Running your own business and risking it all

Running your own business and risking it all.

Many people will tell you that running your own business is a gamble, and they’re absolutely right. So how do you know that your gamble is a clever one and one that will pay out in time?  What pay out will it give if successful and when?  Will you be a winner or a loser?  50% of SME businesses are failing before the four year mark – clearly the gamble isn’t working for many.

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I spent time in the casinos watching gamblers. I may even have placed a few bets myself! Some people spent hours every day putting small change into slot machines. Others played high-stakes games of craps or roulette. Both types of people reminded me of different kinds of business owners and I realised that gambling in Vegas can teach us all some valuable business lessons.

If you think small and change nothing, you’re not likely to win big

The people playing the slots were doing the same thing again and again, taking small individual risks (that added up to one large risk) and hoping for a big pay day. There was no system, no variables, no way for them to influence the outcome. Almost hypnotised by the machines, they kept on feeding them money in the hope that they’d be the lucky one who would win big that day. Some do, but the opulent hotels suggest that many do not.  They’re like the kind of business owner who thinks small, has no strategy, but keeps on doing the same things day in day out in the hope that the outcome will change and they’ll make their fortune.

You have to invest in order to win big

At the craps and black jack tables where people also taking a risk, but these were bigger ones, taken less often but staking more money than the people feeding quarters to a machine.  At least at here the player can influence the outcome by throwing the dice, taking another card – although there’s still a significant element of chance. Higher stakes meant the likelihood of higher winnings, and that’s what it’s like in business – you need to gamble high in order to win big and win quickly.

The more successful gamblers would weigh up the right decision and level of investment having studied the game they were playing and made an assessment of the likelihood of a win. Business decisions will come in the shape of people, finance, sales & marketing or systems, rather than casino chips, and you should have undertaken your research about the right decisions in all of these areas, to make intelligent choices.


Business shouldn’t be a gamble

The most important reflection I had about my time in the casinos was that running your own business shouldn’t actually be like gambling at all, but should be the equivalent of a safe bet. Good strategy means it should be structured and predictable, planning what you want to achieve, how you’re going achieve it and importantly, when. Of course there’s always an element of risk, but the skill is managing that risk. After all, you don’t see any penniless casinos, but there are hundreds of skint gamblers all dreaming big.

In the words of Kenny Rogers in The Gambler,

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” 

Are you gambling wisely with your future?  Are you playing the small stake or high stake game hoping for a bumper pay day? Do you have a strategy that can guarantee results?

Do you have a lengthy business plan and never look at it or maybe you have no plan at all? Many business owners don’t manage their company strategically, know what to focus on or measure daily, to have complete clarity and control.

If you would like to manage your business on a single page, access our tool here to get started: