Do you consider yourself a risk-taker?
I hope your answer is yes! Taking risks is a part of life and being able to make major decisions is pivotal for any business owner.
However, if you aren’t afraid to take big risks, you’re one of the few women who actually consider themselves to be risk-takers.
It’s sad but true.
Women take fewer risks than men do in business.
Is that a stereotype? An unfair assessment? Or is it true, due in part to the tendency of women to “play it safe”?
In a survey of small businesses conducted in 2017, it was found that 18% of business owners expected no growth for the next fiscal period…and the majority of them were female.
It seems that women have come to accept the fact that they’re less likely than men to take profitable risks, and therefore have convinced themselves that a stagnant year of business is better than taking a loss.
But who has convinced them that risk equals loss? And that they’re just not good at taking them? Who, in their past, has told them that women aren’t cut out for making calculated, risky decisions that will lead to business growth?
You could make the case that women are inherently averse to risk, however, research suggests that the ability to take big risks is not a trait you’re born with, but a skill that is shaped by your upbringing.
Society teaches men that they can do whatever they put their minds to. That they should have confidence in themselves and their ability to make good choices. Women, on the other hand, are taught that they need to protect themselves and that it is better to be careful and to play it safe rather than to take that chance and possibly lose out.
It’s for this reason that women tend to take “safe” risks.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
However, while women don’t tend to take traditional risks, I have no doubt that women are, and can be, fabulous risk-takers.
We are not averse to the possibility of failure. And we are not poor decision-makers.
To the contrary, women do have the intuition, the decision-making skills, the sense of adventure, and the nerve to take risks. The only difference? The types of risks we’re attracted to differ from those of men.
You are a Risk-taker
Let’s break that down.
Women are risk-takers. However, because they’re not the types of risks that are directly and immediately profitable, women aren’t getting credit for those smart moves.
For instance, a male business owner is more likely to jump out of a plane on Sunday and then make a large company purchase on Monday. A female entrepreneur is more likely to take a chance on a less-than-perfect employee or put her image on the line to do the right and moral thing. She might take the blame for someone else, or maintain her high standards despite a hit to her bottom line.
Or, she might dare to put her family ahead of her career.
These are risks—and they’re profitable risks. But, they don’t get the positive attention that company acquisitions or plans for expansion might get. Women tend to play the long game, patiently waiting for their risks to pay off.Women tend to play the long game, patiently waiting for their risks to pay off. #womeninbusiness #businessbabes Click To Tweet
Are we missing out?
Is taking the types of risks that come naturally to us—and avoiding the rest—damaging our rates of success?
Well, yes, that could be a problem.
I would never want a female entrepreneur to change her natural inclinations, or to ignore her intuition in business. These are the things that make us great leaders and business owners. I would, however, invite you to chip away at the stereotypes that say we can’t have more faith in our chances of success and that we shouldn’t take significant financial, geographical or market risks.
Start Taking Bigger Risks
When my kids were young, I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mum. I loved being a full-time mother, but something was missing. I also needed to be an entrepreneur, so I decided to take a flying leap out of my comfort zone and start a business from home, working out of my closet.
It was a massive risk – but it’s one I don’t regret. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today had I not made that decision. If you want to hear more about my journey from stay-at-home mum to fempreneur, you can read all about it in my book, Out of the Closet: A Business Book for Women.
Now, here are just a few things you can do to start taking more of the risks that will result in profit (remembering that you are a risk taker…you’re just not accustomed to this type of risk).
Get Excited about the Possibilities
Give ten times more thought to what could go right than you do to what could go wrong. Women have a tendency to focus on the possible negative outcomes of risk…and use those things as reasons to stay in their comfort zones. And because we focus on those things, we tend to overestimate the likelihood of them happening. Start getting excited about the possibility of success and focus on that, which will increase its likelihood of happening.
Don’t Think too Far Ahead
Avoid thinking too far ahead, in terms of negative side effects.
What will my peers think of me if I fail? What if my family doesn’t understand? Will my colleagues think I’m stupid?
These are the kinds of things we say to ourselves. We draw conclusions about catastrophe before we even take the risk. This is your ego trying to keep you safe. When in fact, your ego should be told to take a seat.
And something critical that you’re forgetting?
Your innate ability to problem-solve and turn unsavoury consequences into opportunities for growth. Even if something does go wrong, you should have no worries. You have mad fix-it skills!
When Given an Opportunity, Take it
Instead of calculating the cost of risk, start calculating the risk of refusing to act. If you take a risk, you could lose X. If you don’t take the risk, you will lose Y. It’s a simple calculation, really. You will lose 100% of what you don’t pursue.You will lose 100% of what you don’t pursue. #womenwithambition #yesshecan Click To Tweet
Overcome the Fear and Explore the Possibilities
So, I want you to make a list of those things you fear. That fear is an indicator that your ego is in an uproar—because it hates change (even the positive kind). Start to view that fear as an indicator that you need to move forward, explore possibilities, take more risks…all for the growth of your small business.
You Can Do It
Don’t let the fear of failure or of the unknown stop you from taking risks and changing your life. Start by taking small risks and become comfortable with that before moving into the big leagues.
Soon enough you’ll be comfortable making those big bossbabe decisions!
And if you feel like you need – or want – more business or mindset support, consider connecting with one of our awesome female business coaches (click here)!
How do you handle big risks in your business? Do you think of yourself as a risk-taker? Let us know in the comments!
Marnie LeFevre is the Founder of Fempire. She is also a #1 bestselling author and marketing expert who has made it her mission to support women to achieve the success they deserve and to lead with confidence. She believes women can achieve anything with the right support and a sisterhood to back them up.