Taking Risks as a Catalyst for Growth

The genesis of many businesses is an individual or group taking risks on an idea. Where would the world be if the Wright Brothers had stuck to fixing and selling bicycles instead of taking on the risk of flying? The history of business is filled with similar examples from FedEx founder Fred Smith taking $5,000 to Vegas to raise capital to Blake Mycoskie, who founded TOMs on a business model of “buy one, give one pair free to a person in need”. Wonderful, exciting, innovative businesses are founded because somebody took the chance to do something new, something unprecedented; someone took a risk. Valuable and productive risk taking in business happens when you believe in something new and feel that this something can work; AND although you understand the risks, you don’t allow hesitation to stand in the way. Think about all the many great ideas we’ve never heard of all because somebody didn’t believe in themselves enough to take it off the ground!

In my life, taking risks, being open to new ideas, and trying new things have been a theme that has afforded me many successes. In my early 20s, I decided to leave a job that I liked with an accounting firm I enjoyed, to do something on my own: running my own consulting practice. This decision was only possible because I was open to exploring and taking chances, and it eventually landed me with a small company that I helped grow for the next 20 years. Leaving my comfortable position was a hard decision especially since financial security had once been a concern in my life – as I was attending college, I had to support myself by working at a gas station for years. I was willing to take this risk because I knew I had something to offer and that it fit the market at the time: offsite CFO consulting. For the next 20 years, the rest of my career was shaped by a lot of good risks that paid off. By the middle of 2019, I was CEO and we had grown the company to a size that afforded me the opportunity to leave and to have the financial security to design the next chapter of my life. A chapter rewarded by new and exciting risks.

Investing in and leading the board of BOMANI Cold Buzz was the definition of taking a risk! BOMANI is the world’s first alcohol-infused cold-brew coffee, a new product in a new category. When the idea of BOMANI was proposed to me, I knew little about alcohol or coffee production, distribution and sales…but I knew a good idea when I heard one! And this was definitely a great one. So, after some thinking and a bit of research (not too much because to me, there is such thing as paralysis by analysis), I decided to be the founding investor and to support the team as an advisor.  BOMANI was created after a lot of challenges and hurdles that its wonderful founders and management team beautifully navigated. We had lots of contracts and marketing plans as we launched two weeks prior to COVID-19 lockdown! We had focused our efforts on distributing through restaurants and event venues. Once lockdown regulations were enforced, all these potential opportunities for growth were no longer available. Rather than assuming that this was the end or even a pausing point for BOMANI, we decided to look at the problem differently. How could we distribute our product? We realized that we had two options: we had to partner with bigger chains and we had to start selling online. People were no longer going to stores and lingering to explore new products and options. Instead, they were buying online at retailers that they trusted. We needed to leverage these platforms to get consumer attention and engage them during an unprecedented pandemic. Because we were open to new marketing ideas and to new distribution methods, we were able to do well as a new brand securing fantastic partners in distribution and retail. We are well on our way to expanding BOMANI significantly as a result. Many risks and new ideas are reasons for this new success.

Taking on anything new requires some level of risk. Taking on something fantastic that could enrich your life requires even more risk. Without risk, there is no growth. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend jumping off airplanes (unless you’re doing it for the thrill) but I encourage you to take action steps towards what you want. Waiting for just the right time to take the plunge may be just waiting too long. Measure your risks; ponder your plans; understand what you’re trying to do…and then take that leap!

 

Shirin shares lessons learned from a career of success in business.

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