Take The Risks! (That Are in Your Wheelhouse)

In 1926, Olympic champion Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel. Gertrude didn’t practice the feat by wading out into the waters of France, seeing how close she could get to England, and then turning around. Gertrude’s first trans-body-of-water swim was actually across her kiddie pool (video here, promise. No idea how they got a color video of this). Presumably, she crossed larger and larger bodies of water until she finally decided that she could swim the channel. Gertrude, meet Bravado Spice:

Bravado Spice gives a big Texas “Howdy!” to Gertrude (from left, Ryan Harcourt, James Nelson, Vince Blasco, Jeremiah Tallerine)

Bravado Spice gives a big Texas “Howdy!” to Gertrude (from left, Ryan Harcourt, James Nelson, Vince Blasco, Jeremiah Tallerine)

Bravado Spice came on the show recently to talk about the risks they’ve taken. As a company, the two founders have gone from working at an Apple Store, where they gave away samples of their hot sauce to coworkers, to now being in over 300 retail stores with a thriving e-commerce site and an expanding product line. Throughout those stages, they’ve taken risks.

In the beginning, they made everyone in the company apply to be on Master Chef. Even though none were trained cooks, they felt they needed that exposure. By the time they closed a deal with Whole Foods, they quit their jobs at Apple. Nowadays, they risk larger amounts of money on new products and outreach campaigns. Along the way, the risks have been commensurate with the amount of cushion (read: capital) that the company provided them. As Jeremiah put it, “If you are a $25,000 startup, and you take a $20,000 risk, you’ve only got one shot or you’re toast”.

When I was younger, I attended the Millionaire Mind Intensive Seminar. I learned that I wasn’t a fan of seminars, too much hugging and hoo-rah. But I’ve begrudgingly had to admit that the main message rings true. The basic gist was that you could become wealthy if you thought that you could become wealthy. That made a handy tagline, but I’ve taken it to mean that if you have a small mind, you’ll take small risks. And small risks pay small rewards. If you can push beyond your comfort zone, you’ll take larger risks. And as some of those risks pan out, you can push further and further with bigger risks, which in hindsight looks like growth. What can be said for personal wealth can be applied even more neatly to growing a company. It’s why the folks who graduate summa cum laude aren’t always the ones who end up building great companies. As a company, you’ve got to be more than smart. You’ve got to venture out. Take risks. But the nuance behind that platitude is that you’ve got to have some self-awareness about where you are as a company. If you’re a kiddie company, start with the kiddie pool and grow from there.

You can subscribe to new episodes on iTunes or download them through Libsyn.

Thanks to James Nelson, Jeremiah Tallerine, and our sponsor MailChimp.

Thanks for reading! If you like this sort of thing you can subscribe to our newsletter where we write about each episode.