In the last 23 years – yes Diamond is 23 in March – I ticked along for 20 years then super accelerated my growth in the last 3. So I have done a lot of thinking about what the first 20 were – namely a very typical journey of a small business to a seven figure turnover and then sticking there – and then the transformation into a company that is now doubling its turnover year on year heading towards our £40m goal.
I’ll be looking at this a lot over the next few months as I write this year’s books, but for me it is summed up by one monster shift in my thinking. I was prepared to gamble big time – in an act of reasonable recklessness.
You see I had had an income for 20 years – exactly what I needed over that time to keep myself and my children and various husbands in the manner to which they had become accustomed. A steady growing income as our holiday, home and lifestyle requirements grew. As I grew the business sensibly and incrementally, I fulfilled this. But I never grew the business into the giant that would provide me with my big goals – to be able to retire by 50 a multi millionaire.
It was an act of reasonable recklessness that propelled the business from small time to big time. An all chips on red, a gamble, an exposure to risk that I wasn’t prepared to take for the 20 years previous that I was prepared to do in 2012.
As many of you know my last divorce was not an easy one and I faced losing half of everything for a seven year marriage – and it was the prospect of losing it all that allowed me to gamble. All of a sudden the risk was massively reduced – particularly as I was potentially going to lose it anyway. I don’t know if I would have taken that gamble if I was potentially risking my secure property portfolio, my home and undermining the kids lifestyle – but they were going off to Uni, I was going to lose the property anyway – so what I was going to lose potentially was massively reduced so I could risk it, in order to GO FOR MY BIG GOALS.
It strikes me this is why we should be encouraging entrepreneurialism at an early age – after all kids with fewer assets, fewer responsibilities and fewer demands on their income can afford to risk more, can’t they? But when we get stuck into preservation mode and move away risk – become risk adverse in fact – then sometimes we stymie the growth of our businesses.
Now I don’t want you to throw all your chips into a poor business plan. I had a good plan that I had crunched the numbers on, sought good advice, and had an ability to finance not just the initial bit, but also the working capital moving forward. But it was a risk – I risked my six-figure income for a possible but not guaranteed seven figure income in in the future. And there are not a lot of people that will go from six figures to nothing for 3 years – on what was effectively a gamble. Which was what I had to do to capitalize the business enough in the short term.
When you gamble you have to be prepared to lose. The value of your investment can go up as well as down. But to do something extraordinary in your business you may have to stop being so risk adverse and take the plunge in something that is a little bit riskier than your norm.
It’s working so far for me. Finally we are back into profit, and our turnover has increased fivefold in 3 years – with an increasingly trajectory so my gamble is paying off. But without that act of reasonable recklessness I don’t think it would have been possible to achieve it.
Ask yourself today what act of reasonable recklessness could you gamble on to shift your business or life on – phone a major client for an account that’s a bit too big, secured a big loan for your business expansion, shift your business from small time to big time, ask someone out on a date even!
There’s no guarantee it will work – it is a gamble after all. But as long as you are prepared to take reasonable risk your returns could be exponential.