How Being 'Sm-old' Increases Your Chances of Success: Balancing Being Smart and Being Bold

What do you think are the essential qualities that contribute to a person's success in life?

stairs going upward
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What do you think are the essential qualities that contribute to a person's success in life? Most people might answer passion, integrity, optimism, drive and intelligence. As an entrepreneur, I might also add boldness to the mix. Being one of the smartest people in the room doesn't guarantee success. You need a combination of smarts and boldness to maximize your chances of success. Being bold is defined as "showing an ability to take risks; being confident and courageous." Without a well-thought out plan, boldness alone can also be reckless, yet spending too much time thinking leads to "paralysis by analysis."

Paralysis by Analysis

If you think too much, you talk yourself out of being bold. You might end up predicting all of the negative outcomes, while never taking action. But if you are too bold, you may take lots of action, some of which might not be smart. I discussed this dilemma with a friend who suggested the term "Sm-old," being bold when faced with new opportunities, but taking measured action. I am where I am today because of the thousands of hours I spent reverse engineering the Google algorithm and being passionate about SEO. That, plus a few bold moves I made along the way. Starting a business is a risk, as is growing a business. It required me to take my 'smart' idea and empower it with boldness.

My journey began in Las Vegas where I built up an online business. I wanted to drive more business to our website, so I became passionate about figuring out how to get my site ranked nationally on Google. I saw a problem and then created a solution. I ended up selling that business and moved on to a new position. One day, the founder of the new company where I worked asked me to do a talk for a group of lawyers about SEO. He knew my background and area of expertise. I agreed to do the talk and shared the tools and techniques I used to improve my Google ranking. I had never thought about starting my own SEO business, but I came away with twelve business cards of potential clients.

An Appetite for Risk

This is where the boldness kicks in. I joined forces with two other co-workers to start our own SEO consulting firm. We needed office space and had a limited budget. Everything we saw was discouraging. I knew we needed to be in the center of town and selected a site that I felt would work for us. I walked in wearing flip flops and shorts and I am sure the realtor who showed us the space was dubious. There was one office available and it was incredible, but unfortunately, it was triple what we were hoping to pay. As I looked around at the space, I envisioned what it would look like after we moved in. I even visualized where our press clippings would be hung, and this was before we even had any press. I decided to rent the space. I took a calculated risk and said to my partners, "You put a fish in a bowl and it's only going to grow as big as the bowl — and this is a huge bowl."

Out With the Old, in With the Bold

That fish ended up growing into a shark. I could have stopped there, but a new opportunity presented itself. I made another bold decision to sell the business to my partner and moved my family to Los Angeles. I kept only one client. That one client became another client, and another one, which led to the next bold decision: I needed help. Thanks to that decision and hiring a strong leadership team, we've scaled and grown the business.

If you are in the early stages of your entrepreneurial journey, you may be facing similar challenges. If you have a smart idea and you've done your research, it's time to take action. Action creates results. Too many people get caught up in too much analyzing and not enough doing. One thing I've learned is that progress is better than perfection. Just get started and worry about perfecting things as you go.

If you are a little further along in your journey, it may be time to add boldness to the mix. Taking some calculated risks can take you to the next level. But in order to take those risks, you can't be afraid of failure. I learned to accept failure as part of my growth. When you fail, fail forward. Learn from your mistakes and view them as lessons and learning opportunities. If you are afraid to fail, you will not progress. If you never fall when you are learning to ski, you will never improve. We need to get out of our comfort zones to get into a growth zone.

Do you have an idea for a business or see an obvious solution to a problem? If so, what is holding you back from taking that first step? Don't overthink the process. As Wayne Gretzky says, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." So, do the groundwork, then take the shot.

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