In my “previous life” (the term I use for the life I had before I started speaking), I had big eyes. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a business, all I could see was how successful it would be. How great it would be. How big it could be. Yet, my banker wasn’t quite so optimistic.
My banker did his best to talk me out of it, telling me that he didn’t think it was a good idea, that it would be smarter to just turn my back and walk away. I decided to take the risk anyway and I bought the business, a huge smile on my face as I opened its doors.
Sadly, those happen to be the same doors that ultimately closed four months later. For good. As it turns out, my banker was right. This was definitely a risk I couldn’t afford.
I didn’t want to admit it, but I was in way over my head and had no idea how to swim. Looking back, I needed to have done a better analysis of the actual risk I was taking by making the purchase. Ultimately, going in blindly cost me not only financially, but it put me through a lot of aggravation and worry that I didn’t need.
Now, whenever I’m faced with a potential opportunity, one of the first questions I ask myself is, “If it all goes bad, can I afford it?” I look over my checking and savings accounts to see if there’s enough there to cover my family’s need should it all go downhill. I also assess non-financial costs of taking the risk, such as the added stress it would create, the additional time it would take away from being with my wife and kids, and all of the other obligations this new venture could possibly bring.
If I determine that I can afford to take the risk—both financially and otherwise—then I move forward and start to make my plans. If not, if making the move could potentially cause my family and I too much harm if it didn’t work out, then it’s simply not worth it. It isn’t the right deal for me because I cannot afford the investment.
Maybe there’s some potential opportunity that you’re faced with at the moment and you’re not sure what to do. Perhaps you’re considering a huge career move or you’re working on buying a new home. You’re thinking about going back to school full or part-time or you want to start your own business.
Before you make any of these types of huge, life-changing decisions final, take a moment and analyze the risks. Ask yourself, “If it doesn’t work as planned, will I still be able to survive? Will I still be able to tend to my financial, familial, emotional, physical, and spiritual obligations?”
Of course, any failed venture stings a little bit and often makes us take a step or two back. That’s okay; it’s natural. But what you want to be leery of is taking any action that pushes you back so far that you can’t recover, or that you can’t recover without causing yourself and your family undue harm.
It’s basically the same process you use when deciding whether you’re going to go out in the middle of a blizzard. You know it’s risky. You might get stuck in the snow or be involved in an accident due to the slick roads, so you have to decide whether or not it’s worth it.
If your wife is in labor, then it’s probably worth the trek to get her to the hospital. However, if all you wanted was a bottle of soda from the corner store, then you may decide that the risks outweigh the reward, making staying home the better option.
No one can make the decision but you. However, as long as you make it with both eyes open, analyzing your risks before making the move, then you’ll know that you made the best decision possible given what you know at the time. And that’s all any of us can do.