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what's one quality you need to succeed as a small business?

what's one quality you need to succeed as a small business? / via oh joy!

Over at the Oh Joy! Academy, everyone who has taken a class, session, or downloaded a product with us has access to a special Facebook group where they can ask me business questions at any time. It's been a fun way to get into specifics with people and also chat with them in our monthly Facebook lives! Today, I wanted to talk here about one very important quality that you need to be able to succeed in running a small business...and that's...the ability to take risks.

It's crazy to think that Oh Joy! will be 15 years old this fall. It feels like just yesterday that I started with no idea what I was doing. I can't say I am a risky person by nature. But for some reason, within business, I have learned to be okay with it...even when it's really, really hard.

Taking risks can involve a lot of different things that come along every stage of business. Those things could include:

— Deciding to start a business...whether it's a side hustle turned into a full-time hustle, leaving a job that doesn't fulfill you, taking your savings to start something you've always dreamt up, or even just talking about a dream of yours out loud, those are all steps in the direction you want to go.

— Getting an office space to allow for growth. Not everyone needs a physical office outside their home. Some work is mostly on a computer, and those working mostly solo can (and should) work from home as long as possible. Getting an office space comes with a lot of financial responsibility that you're committing to. But when you know that it will allow your business to grow, it's often worth the risk.

— Growing your team. Whether you need the help of freelancers, part-timers, or full-timers, adding even one employee to your team is a risk that you are taking on for growth. I have grown my team over the years super slowly and organically. Without any investors, I was never able to grow a team any faster because I had to hire and grow my team as I could afford to.

— Taking investors. This move isn't for everyone, and you should never feel forced to do this. But, for some, the level of growth they want isn't possible without large investment from an outside source. While this can feel exciting, it's also scary not knowing how an investor will be involved and how their presence (or money) will impact your company.

— Making changes along the way. There's often this trajectory that we assume we need to follow in order for a business to grow...more money, a bigger team, a bigger office, more of it all! And, that's often how it works with a modern-day start-up. You start something small with an awesome idea, someone gives you a ton of money to grow it, and then it either: A) Explodes and scales and you eventually sell it for a ton of money or B) The growth doesn't work and you close your business after a few years. When you're not funded, however, those two extreme options aren't usually options at all. So part of taking risks also involves being flexible as your business evolves, grows, and changes to make the modifications you need to be viable and happy. Those changes could be any number of things including: changing your service or product offerings, scaling up or scaling down, saying no to work, saying yes to something you never expected to do, and so many other things....

Being a business owner is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life (next to being a parent)...but also so rewarding. It's not for the faint of heart at all, but knowing that the risks you take are always somehow worth it in the end makes the feeling of taking those risks exciting with the opportunities that can come from it! Have a great weekend, all!

{Photos by Lily Glass. Written by Joy Cho.}

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