“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair.  We’d never have a friendship.  We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical.  Well that’s all nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

It was the spring of ‘97 and I was working as a recruiter for a small staffing agency.    I was leading the group in placements, and felt like I had found a position that would fit me and where I would be a success.

But change was in the air.  A competitor tried to recruit me away.  At the same time the agency I was already at was being sold and it was likely that the owner (and my teacher and mentor) would likely be retiring.  This produced a fair amount of confusion in me; trying to decide if I should stay or start over with the other agency.

It happened that one of my favorite personal growth writers Alan Cohen was holding a workshop in a nearby state. I went to that workshop and came away with a great revelation; that I had more than two choices.

This is where one of my favorite quotes came in.  I had always been introverted and somewhat quiet.  Most of my work life I had been a software engineer.   I was not one to take big risks.  The quote inspired me.  It made me both excited and nervous.  Keeping the quote in mind I decided to make the jump. I decided to open my own business.

I turned in my resignation.  I started to write a business plan.  To my dismay my employer did not walk me out the door when I resigned (as happens in most staffing agencies).  In my spare time I continued to make plans.  I found an office subletting from a local web host provider.  I bought office furniture and a new computer with Office and contact management software.

In retrospect the scary thing is that I did this without any savings.  I had been careful enough with money and had a great credit rating with lots of credit cards.  I bought everything on credit and even used credit card checks to pay my rent and make car payments.  After half a year in business I had $30,000 of debt.  But I had jumped and I was building my wings as I was falling.  It was exhilarating and frightening at the same time.  I worked hard and managed to get my wings in place before I hit bottom (ran out of money and credit) and I started to soar.  After a year all the debt was paid off and I was flying high.

Unfortunately I cannot say that the flying was all smooth after that.  There have been some difficulties along the way.  Not long after I paid off my debts the DOT-COM crash came, and most of my business went away.  I spent years struggling. It took me those years to realize that I was always falling and that I needed to constantly be building new wings to stay airborne.  I have changed my business model several times and I am frequently adapting my contracts to fit my clients.

Regardless of the varied quantity of business I feel that I have been successful.  I have built a business around my own work style and personality.  I have helped people.  I have built a recruiting business based on ethics and quality and it is something that I am proud of.  My risk taking succeeded because I also had the perseverance to continue, and that I figured out that just continuing to stay in business was a risk, and that I would need to stay continually awake and aware to prevent a crash.

While I would not encourage others to quit a job without savings or a business plan (unless you share my MBTI type…) I encourage taking risks.  Great accomplishments will never happen without risk taking.  Plan as much as you need to but make the leap.

This entry was posted in Business Building, Job seeking. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Risk

  1. Pingback: Career Development Carnival: February 2013

Comments are closed.