Why Safe is Risky

December 20, 2010

"Safe is Risky"

- Seth Godin

First and foremost, if you haven't read one of Seth Godin's books get off your bum and walk down to the nearest bookstore. I recommend reading Tribes or Purple Cow. Seth is one of the most influential writers of the last decade and a powerful business leader. His books are brilliant and accessible paradigm shifters.

Back in 2004, Seth wrote an blog article called "safe is risky". The article was pretty mediocre but the title stuck with me - it was concise, elegant, and complex.

Most people are paralyzed by the fear of failure. In fact, the possibility of failure is so crippling for most people that they'll abandon their dreams, stick to dull routines, and make only safe decisions.

Why Safety Fails

If you stick to "tried and true" business strategies, you'll always end up at the end of the pack. Think about it this way:

Joe Smith uses a safe, guaranteed phone book ad. He's had a slow trickle of clients for 25 years and is skeptical of new technologies. Fewer people use the phone book and his steady stream of clients turns into an occasional drip.

John Doe jumps on the social media bandwagon from the beginning. Business is slow at first because he's using a new technology but he sticks with it. After some hard work, he builds a network of 1000+ people in his community and his business begins to skyrocket. As new technologies emerge, John jumps onboard. Not every strategy is successful and he has many failures - but overall, he's far more successful than Joe Smith.

The reason John is successful: he's willing to take risks and discover new ways of connecting to patients.

The reason Joe is stagnating: he's afraid of failure and only has one or two strategies.

In today's business world you'll need diverse strategies, techniques, and resources. You need to be forward thinking.

Roderick Campbell
Marketing Director