This kind of fear, however, can backfire when taken too far. Business is never a sure thing. The perfect opportunity — one with all upside and no downside — is rare. In fact, the essence of being an entrepreneur is the willingness to bear extra risks and uncertainties in exchange for the prospect of an outsized return. If you're not OK with that, then maybe you're better suited for another career path.
Sometimes, this means making the wrong bet and swallowing a significant loss. In my early days, when I was running a small digital agency, I landed a big contract to design and implement software for a food franchise with hundreds of locations. To meet the demand, I hired 15 people, nearly doubling the size of the company. This was early 2008. Then the recession hit and that huge franchise went down the tubes … and I had to clean house at my company.
But that experience didn't stop me from taking a gamble just a few months later on another untested idea: a nifty tool my agency developed to manage multiple social networks at once. It wasn't bringing in any revenue, but social media was just taking off and I thought the potential was huge. So I assigned seven full-time team members to the project, paying their salaries with my personal credit card. Long story short, that tool became Hootsuite, which now has more than 10 million users, including more than 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies. With any entrepreneurial venture, there will always be trade-offs and risks. The biggest mistake is to let this fear of the unknown become paralyzing.
As for the watermelon saga, the drama actually didn't end there. Soon after, the local community pooled their resources and started its own co-op, with cheaper produce. So it turns out the rotting melon fiasco was in fact the beginning of the end for the small town grocery store — and a tale of caution for entrepreneurs everywhere.
Ryan Holmes is the founder and CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool for businesses.
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This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.