Go Big or Go Home: Why It’s Important for Entrepreneurs to ‘Bet the House’
By Lauren Elmore, president of Firmatek.
We’re often told not to “bet the house” on anything. It’s generally good advice. But the best business advice I’ve received is actually the opposite: Bet the house on it.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. I saw my dad and grandfather taking risks and giving it their all to make it work. One day, shortly before we bought our company, my dad told me about the early days of his first business. That company was losing a lot of money quickly. He told me that if you want to make it work, you need to give it everything you have.
It can be a terrifying thing to do, but it is also motivating. When you have everything on the line, cash is tight and things are tough, you grow up in a hurry. There’s no other option than to make it work.
Betting the house is the best piece of advice I’ve received because it’s not a singular thing to do. It’s a way of life and a mentality that promotes taking risks and giving everything you have to make it work.
However, like any bet, you should try to minimize the risk of losing. Passion and hard work are vital, but there are some other strategies that can help you along the way. Here are three things every entrepreneur can do to significantly improve his or her odds:
Surround Yourself With the Right People
I have a wonderful group of people in my life who tell me stories of their early days running a business, help me through decision-making processes and navigating difficult issues and cheer me on. Keep this in mind as you build your startup team.
You spend tons of time with your team, and the compatibility of your skill sets and personalities is critical to your success. In my case, working with my brother at Firmatek is amazing. Working closely with a sibling might sound torturous to some, but my brother and I have complementary strengths and work well together. Plus, we like each other, which makes doing business together much more enjoyable.
Endeavors worth doing are rarely easy, and neither is the decision to take them on. But the hardest ones are often the most worthwhile. I love Theodore Roosevelt’s quote about the man in the arena: You must dare greatly, step into the arena, and give it your all.
The decision to risk it all to run a company with no Plan B is a big risk. It takes a lot of hard work. There are a lot of ups and downs. To stand on the sidelines where it is safe is not who I am. In order to be an entrepreneur, you need to want to be in the arena and find the joy in the struggle.
Remember that Everything Looks Better in the Morning
Difficult, overwhelming days are inevitable. And the more you have riding on your shoulders, the heavier those days will feel. Manage them by first acknowledging the fear and doubt. Take a moment to lay out the issues you’re concerned about, but then let them go. Go to bed and rest. In the morning, get focused and keep building. Everything will feel better in the morning light, and you’ll be ready to fight another day to achieve your vision.
The tension that betting the house creates can be stressful. But that’s also where you learn, where you grow and where you dig deep to make it happen. When you believe in your vision, the best advice you can get is counter to popular sentiments. If you believe in what you’re working toward, bet the house on it.
Also published in Inc. Magazine.