Risk and Reward

There are many expressions around describing the fact that you have to work to get rewarded – there’s no such thing as a free lunch – and that the amount of the reward will be proportionate to the work done – you get what you pay for. There are expressions relating risk and reward – the man who says it cannot be done counts the risk, not the reward.

What does all this mean to you? It is intended to serve as both a warning and as a motivator.

Like many people, I spent a significant amount of time reading about various get-rich-quick schemes, thinking that I would be able to plug into some formula and soon be spending all my time scuba diving in Aruba. I read through the posts about MLM schemes, about marketing other people’s products at significant commissions. But at the end, I learned a very simple truth – there is no way to get rich quick without putting in the work.

Granted, there are programs available that can change the nature of the work to something that you will enjoy more. You can change the number of hours that you will work. You can change the rate of return on your time investments. But the work itself cannot be eliminated.

The second reality I discovered is that the greater the payout, the greater the risk. Quite simply put, the opportunities I saw that had enormous potential to put large amounts of money in my pocket had a proportional chance of not only not profiting me, but also setting me back.

Is it all doom and gloom?

Not at all. The last reality I found was that every person has a tolerance for risk, though the level of risk varies wildly from person to person. But every person also has the ability to shape their own path to get it paved, to some degree, down the road.

As an example, my own risk tolerance is quite low when it comes to personal finances. I have responsibilities to my family, and so cannot (in my opinion) risk that responsibility even against a large payout. That being said, when an opportunity knocks, I can still recognize the opportunity and attempt to take advantage of it while at the same time mitigating whatever risk might be inherent in that opportunity.

In particular, I had an idea for several websites and applications. If I was more risk prone, I might have moved toward working on these applications full-time, and hope for the eventual payout. I might have borrowed money from the bank, or family and friends, to finance my dream of turning these ideas into a steady source of income.

I decided to take a different path. I continued at my day job. I did the occasional work for clients, sometimes more, sometimes less. But I also worked on my idea in the stolen minutes and hours in between my other responsibilities.

  • I did my own legal research as needed.
  • I did my own marketing plans.
  • I did the software development.
  • I used freely available templates for their graphics.
  • I looked into different payment structures.

What I did, in essence, was reduce the risk by doing as much as I could, when I could. As a result, the projects have been moving slower than they might have otherwise progressed. It will take me significantly longer to launch, increasing the risk that someone will beat me to it. But this is a risk I can accept, and I’m enjoying the journey.

Rewards will come, of that I am sure. When? Perhaps this month, perhaps this year, perhaps this decade (that was a depressing thought). The reward will in some way be proportional to the risk it took to get it. The delay in reaching my goals can perhaps reduce the ultimate reward. But at least I have enjoyed the journey will striving for the big reward, and that too is a reward.