PR Briefing: Taking risks is essential in growing a business

Some people think it’s thrilling to jump out of airplanes, test their survivor skills in the wilderness or run with the bulls in Pamplona. While I prefer to participate in activities that won’t result in me getting gored by a bull, I firmly believe that people have to take some risks to be successful in life – and in business.

While it’s important to shake things up sometimes and try something new, risk-taking can be scary.

Most of us have taken risks – both good and bad – and lived to tell the stories. At the end of the day, risk-taking has made us stronger, wiser people.

When I moved to New Hampshire 23 years ago, I didn’t know anyone here, and I had to develop a whole new network of professional and social contacts. The risk proved successful – I met and married my husband here, found careers in journalism and the corporate sector, cultivated friendships and established a wonderful life for myself and my family.

Years later, I left the world of newspaper and magazine journalism to navigate a new career in marketing. Again, the risk proved wise, as my career expanded to include a whole new realm of responsibility, areas to explore and knowledge to gain.

But the biggest risk I ever took was leaving a leadership role in corporate America to open my own integrated marketing agency. I remember having an early discussion about the idea with my husband – the risk-averse person in our marriage – and deciding together this was a risk worth taking. The worst thing that could happen was that we would go find new jobs if things didn’t work out.

Nonetheless, opening StoreyManseau LLC was terrifying. It was risky to leave a well-established position, take a significant pay cut, recruit new clients and, eventually, hire staff and move out of my home office to a larger office space.

Yes, there have been sacrifices along the way, but I have no doubt we made the right decision. I’ve had the opportunity to grow again. This time, I’m learning what it takes to manage my own business, provide excellent service for customers while managing cost, and juggle the responsibilities of employing staff.

Marketing your business can be risky, too, but it’s an essential risk.

Yes, it’s an investment of money, time and energy. Yes, it will take time to see the fruits of your labor. It will require patience and determination, as an investment in marketing often doesn’t show immediate results. And, sometimes, yes, the initial path you plot for your marketing effort may not work, and you’ll have to find an alternate route to successfully promote your company.

Overcoming obstacles

Despite all the risks, it’s still vital to market your business, and that’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years. Marketing your business is the most effective way to attract customers, because you’re demonstrating what your company has to offer and why your business is better than the competition down the street.

And since customers are the reason you will have a business in the future, it’s important to reach them successfully.

You cannot sit back and wait for customers to come knocking on your door. You must proactively pursue business to see your company grow. Marketing is the way you will reach current, old and new customers. It’s the way you’ll communicate that you have something they need – and that you’re the best, most experienced and trustworthy game in town.

If the initial marketing plan you’ve developed isn’t working – and you’ll know because you’ve created a means to measure its success before you’ve launched the plan – then go back to the drawing board and refine the plan until it’s successful.

A failed marketing plan doesn’t mean it was a bad risk and that you should never try it again. Some risks become easier as you learn more and bring better experience to the table. Just ask anyone who has been married more than once!

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle a risk. Do they dive in with gusto, training for their first marathon, pursuing a passion, shaking up their familiar routines? Are they a bit more cautious, dipping a toe into the ocean rather than plunging into the waves? Are they practical, offering valet parking so potential customers won’t avoid their restaurant at night because they’re afraid to walk through a dark parking lot? And are they prepared, renting a tent for an outdoor event in case it rains or continuously networking in case they want to change jobs?

Your risk-taking style really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to bravely face risks, whether they’re expected or unexpected. By overcoming an obstacle, we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate our strength. Ultimately, these experiences help us gain self-confidence that will allow us to take additional risks in the future.

Just don’t expect me to bungee-jump.

Laurie J. Storey-Manseau, who owns StoreyManseau LLC, a Concord-based, full-service marketing firm, can be reached at 603-229-0278 or