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Risk Tolerance For Reopening Your Business

May 13, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Business Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

“If I’m not free to fail, I’m not free to take risks, and everything in life that’s worth doing involves a willingness to take a risk and involves the risk of failure…I have to try, but I do not have to succeed.”

This quote by Madeleine L’Engle, an American writer, grabbed my attention as I looked out my kitchen window after running for the first time in nine months after an injury. Jogging at least 3 miles a day was a regular activity for twenty-two years. Initially running to lose weight after my second son was born; the daily habit became an everyday fix whisking away entrepreneurial problems, enlightening my mind, uplifting my spirit, making me a happier and healthier person.


Three years ago when the idea to become a marathoner was presented to me on a silver platter, I literally stopped in my tracks contemplating the feat. I was only 52 years old in fairly good shape with an adventurous soul so it became an easy decision to try it. I began a six-month training program, over cold winter days, and raising money for the ability to run the marathon in Boston. A month prior, I got pretty sick and couldn’t finish my training. Having only run a 13.1 miler prior to the marathon start line, I approached the race like I’ve tackled women entrepreneurship, with an invincible mindset. This is where Madeleine’s quote comes in…

“If I’m not free to fail, I’m not free to take risks, and everything in life that’s worth doing involves a willingness to take a risk and involves the risk of failure…I have to try, but I do not have to succeed.”

Sure enough by the grace of God, pure will, and the roar of the supporting crowds, I finished the risk crossing the finish line standing up under six hours.

L’Engle’s quote is appropriate this week as parts of New York State reopens its doors shut tight by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Every news pundit, politician, and medical expert has varying opinions on the risk vs. reward of reopening too soon. I’m sure every woman entrepreneur I know feels the same way. Many are eager to open again, bringing in necessary revenue essential to exist, while others may be wary about the health of their clients, staff, and selves. There isn’t a right or wrong way to approach the reopening concept except to listen to your risk tolerance level, have a plan, and make the decision.


Last Friday, a member with a massage business told me, although she loves having her company’s reception area and private rooms decorated with nice linens and upholstery, she is outfitting her tables and chairs with washable, plastic coverings to be able to wash them down between visitors ensuring safety for all. Interior design is taking a back seat to sanitation and hygiene. “It’s what I have to do to limit the risks of any germs in my shop while we reopen slowly,” she told me. I applauded her decision to be as safe as she needed to be to open her doors again.


Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you that no matter when you reopen the doors to your business, there will be a level of risk; what you need to decide is how much risk are you willing to take? How can you minimize risk to yourself and your customers? What type of benchmarks do you need to ensure safety? How will you communicate with clients again if you need to close back down?

These are new questions for most of us so there aren’t any right or wrong answers, just your answers so you are most comfortable taking the risk to reopen successfully.

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