Productivity / Performance

Why playing it safe doesn’t always pay off in small business

Flying solo? 'Play it safe', well-meaning friends and family advise when we start our own business. But does playing it safe always pay off?


playing it safe

I started my first business about a year ago after working for over a decade in public relations, communications and media in Australia. But I didn’t start safely.

The leap I took was a bold, out-of-the-box, industry-trend-bucking one. Perhaps a harder one. But I don’t regret it.

We’ve all started our small businesses for a range of big (and small) reasons. For me? I started my company to challenge many of the habits that had developed into accepted norms in the media industry – sometimes without good reason.

I started boldly, with a fire – and sometimes, as many of us in this community can probably attest – that fire can be dulled out by the day-to-day running of a start-up business. Logistics, administration, employee challenges, promotion, advertising, client attrition – you name it. Especially if you’re a one-woman/one-man show or small team.

"The road of a soloist is often a longer, harder one. We all know that."

Let’s reignite the fire

So I’m writing this to inspire all of us to get back to that initial fire – the passion, the boldness, the spark that sets us apart and perhaps ignited us to start our businesses in the first place.

The road of a soloist is often a longer, harder one. We all know that. But I still choose this road – I choose to push the boundaries and challenge the industry because I believe it’s worth it.

I also think we have a responsibility as small business owners – not to play it safe, but to provide a point-of-difference for consumers and clients in our industries. Yes, we have to balance the books and walk wisely – but why not do so while we challenge common practice, if only a little?

Perhaps you had a similar creative, emotive or righteous social spark that fuelled the start of your company. Is it still alive?

What drives your business today?

Does your core belief behind your business still drive what you do day-to-day?

Do the pros outweigh the cons, helping you give back to your industry and community a sense of excellence, skill and determination that you believe your consumers and customers deserve?

Committing to challenging the norm and pushing the boundaries – whatever your industry – allows you to deliver you services with a difference and stand out from your competitors.

Sometimes that means publishing op-eds with a difference, establishing social media campaigns that sell your business confidently, calling out industry practices that need to change or simply working a few extra hours to deliver above your competitors every week.

Do you push the boundaries, or play it safe? Is it time to step up?

Katie Clift

is Director of Katie Clift Consulting Pty Ltd – a public relations expert specialising in local and international campaigns across all industries. Connect with her on Instagram, LinkedIn.


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