“Sylvanus Bendall was a different breed. He welcomed risk. He opened the door and invited risk in, taking its coat and brushing its boots and serving it tea in his living room.”
I read this quote last week and loved it straight away!
Whilst many of us do not have the flair of fictional character Sylvanus Bendall, we will all face up to risk from time to time. This can be by choice - deciding to change careers, move to a new location, start a new way of working - or it can be forced upon us by circumstances.
As a freelancer, with your future and your work life in your own hands, the real key to planning is not just the “in a perfect world” scenario, but the one in which you have also considered all the things which could go wrong.
For example, what do you do when:
• you have a big pitch to a potential gallery and your child is sick and has to be off school
• you are due to deliver a workshop and you start to lose your voice
• you are hosting a webinar with 70 people signed up and your broadband fails
• your key client, who provides the bulk of your income, doesn’t renew your contract
• your comfortable timeframe get truncated because you have to wait for other people to get their parts of the project back to you
• you have two bad payers who owe you a lot of money and it is impacting on your cashflow
These are just a few of the many problems which could knock you off track. For every aspect of your career planning, a risk analysis is vital. At each stage, ask yourself the following questions:
• What problem could occur?
• What is the absolute worse case scenario?
• How can I avoid this problem?
• If I can’t avoid it, how could I minimise or manage this problem?
It may sound depressing to think of all the things which might not work, but I can’t stress enough how important this process is. By thinking of as many problems with as many viable solutions as possible, you can build a detailed contingency plan. (I always try to come up with 12 solutions to each problem; the first ones are sensible, the middle ones are slightly desperate and the last couple are usually outrageously silly. However, this breaks open your thinking and throws up all kinds of unexpected possibilities from which you can decide your two or three key solutions.) Hopefully, you won’t need your contingency plan, but when any problems hit, you are fully prepared.
A good risk analysis will help you to see most problems as an inconvenience rather than a disaster. As you practise the habit, it will become easier, so that when the one thing you had not anticipated happens, you can face the risk with confidence, and serve it tea!
If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you facing risks, book for a Light the Blue Touchpaper session.