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When Is Playing It Safe the Riskiest Option?

 Often it’s the risk takers who see the greatest success


Playing it safe in the telecom space, and in the technology sector in general, is actually quite risky.  The speed of advancements and innovations is continuously reshaping the industry.  To stay relevant and competitive, telecom companies can’t remain in their safe and static place of delivering only basic phone services.  Not adapting swiftly to market changes runs the considerable risk of alienating existing clients, as well as new prospects.  Investment into emerging technologies like 5G, IoT (Internet of things) and AI (artificial intelligence) are essential for success in this fast-paced sector.

—Rebecca Schwimmer, Vice President, CompuVoIp

There will always be elements of risk in business. It’s not a day job that gets you a salary and that’s it. When you sell products, you can develop a product that doesn’t sell; in the service industry, you can get a customer who doesn’t pay.

If you are going to play it too safe, you won’t have a product to sell and you won’t have customers. However, with good financial control, you should be able to stay on top of these things.  You will be able to keep tabs on things as they happen and deal with them early on, rather than find out a year later that a certain product is causing a loss, or the customer hasn’t been paying.

—Mendy Jacobs, Managing Director, Jacobs & Co.

Should we really be playing it safe? Often it’s the risk takers who see the greatest success.

Welcome to one of the biggest dilemmas facing business owners on a regular basis. You may be conservative by nature, but there is an opportunity that you just wish you had the guts to pull the trigger on.

Here’s what I suggest to all my clients.

Firstly, get comfortable with elements of risk. The fact that you went into business was a major risk. Can you further the risk? It depends on your personality and level of tolerance. If the risk is going to mess with your mind and not let you focus, that can cause damage and stress.

Don’t panic at the first bump in the road. Get used to this environment. It would be helpful, though, to create a solid plan before taking your first risk. I am willing to risk X amount of money and/or X amount of time. If you hit that budgeted number, real consideration should be given whether to get out.

But please don’t be fearful of trying to dip your toe in the water again. Risk is often the ladder that we need to climb, one challenge at a time, to get out of our comfort zone and explore.

—David Wanounou, CEO of the Trepper Plan

I just started a new business, and I know that I need to network. How do I get started?

Networking is crucial and is part of a bigger strategy. But you may be pleasantly surprised to see that you’re already engaging in quite a bit of networking.

There’s a principle in marketing called the “seven touch” strategy. It will take someone an average of seven interactions — or touches — to internalize your service enough to then go ahead and make a purchase or hire you. Think of it as the lights going from red to green, but with a whole lot of other colors in between.

You may start off at an official networking event where you present yourself as a service provider in your space. That can set the strategy into motion. The official networking event may be a physical in-person get-together or it may be just an introduction on LinkedIn.

We are fortunate that in our communities we have many natural, organic networking opportunities — simply seeing someone in shul may be one of those touches. Of course, we can’t speak about business on Shabbos, but just walking past someone on Shabbos morning and wishing them “good Shabbos” may be one of those opportunities to reach someone.

These seven touches can be a mixture of various encounters, ranging from a couple of posts on LinkedIn, mingling at a networking event, an ad, a conversation, meeting at a bar mitzvah and then a kiddush, and finally, someone else mentioning they have used your services.

Always have your business cards on you because you never know where someone is going to experience their seventh touch and ask you for your details!

—Shaya Klyne, Director of Wills Ways, Legal and Halachic Estate Planning


The things you should not say at a job interview:

Do not share anything too personal. There is no need to mention if you are married or have kids. If you have kids, there is no need to discuss their ages. Keep it job related.

When answering questions, answer completely and succinctly. Employers are not looking for employees that ramble. Show them that you have a lot to offer, but don’t try to share everything in one breath.

Do not talk in a derogatory manner about almost anything, especially about a prior employer. Negativity is a big red flag, so make sure to stay away from it. Even if you had a very bad experience with a prior employer, try not to focus on it. You can merely say that there were reasons that it was time to move on, without going into detail and saying anything that may show you in a negative light.

Do not ask about vacation time early on in the process. Your questions should be job and company related. When you get to the negotiation phase, you can clarify the vacations and other benefits offered.

—Barry Ackerman, CEO, Supportive HR


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1019)

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