Career Advice: Why It Pays to Take Risks Early On
When it comes to your career, getting outside of your comfort zone can be the best way to get noticed, and possibly lead to a climb up the corporate ladder. It may mean saying yes to new opportunities, speaking up even when your opinion is unpopular or asking for support when you need it. Making the decision to take risks, especially early-on in your career, can eventually pay off in the long-term.
“If you’re not taking risks in your career,” says Valerie Oswalt, vice president of sales at Mondelēz International, “you might actually be creating more risk for yourself.”
Case in point, a recent study by KPMG suggests women looking to move into business leadership positions may benefit by taking more risks over the course of their careers. Yet, less than 43% of the women surveyed were willing to take big risks like moving to a new city for a job, switching careers, taking on a high-profile project or asking for a pay raise.
Career expert David Bakke, believes in following your dreams. “This might involve becoming an entrepreneur or starting your own small business,” he says. “If you plan it out right, it can be a life-changing event that could potentially benefit you financially and personally for years to come.”
For Toronto executive John Fielding, the road to entrepreneurial success began with a small leap of faith. In 1981, he took a risk, deciding to trade in his professional hockey career for the opportunity to pursue a path in business, a move which would eventually pay off.
Today, John Fielding is the founder of Array Marketing, a global retail merchandising service with clients that include Ulta, Chanel, Estee Lauder, Sephora, and more.
“With just $4,500 in our pockets, my brother and I took a risk and successfully grew a business from the ground up,” Fielding explains.
Another example of a risk-taking success story is Tom Ashbrooks and Rolly Rouse’s company, Home Portfolio, an online directory of home design products. The company was founded in the 1990s but not before first taking huge financial risks. According to Ashbrooks the two relied on relatives for their first $20,000; running up over a quarter of a million dollars in credit card debt.
They were eventually able to raise $72 million and today, the company’s online library features almost one million high-end products. Ashbrook said he is still extremely proud and he does not regret making sacrifices to bring their vision to life.
Writer Daniel Kline was working as the editor of two small local newspapers. Without ever receiving a meaningful raise, Kline decided to take a leap of faith and joined a friend to start a business. At the time, they had to pool their income to cover rent on a small office, and eventually went from struggling to successful.
Kline reflects: “I might have failed, and if I had, I would have found a job. Perhaps that position would not have been as good as the one I had left, but ultimately I would have reset myself and gotten back in position to take the next risk.”
These success stories and others that are sure to follow only prove: Not taking career risks may be the riskiest career move of all.