by Yann Girard — Get free updates of new posts hereTweet
Well, if you say they all want your money in some way or the other, this might be true but I was going for something else here.
What this group has in common is the fact that they all hate taking risks and even more importantly situations where they can’t really quantify the involved risk.
Although it’s kind of obvious, we usually never tend to really paint the entire picture so that we can see it with our own eyes, believe it and understand the consequences for most of our actions.
To me it seems that almost everything in life, every interaction, every transaction is almost always about reducing the risk of the person you are interacting or willing to interact with. It doesn't really matter whether or not it's in private or business life.
Pretty much everyone that is considering starting some sort of relationship with us is evaluating the involved risks of this new relationship or interaction. It all comes down to the basic question whether or not the person will be wasting our invested resources, such as time, money or feelings. To put it short: is the person worth my investment?
And this includes almost everyone you interact with, except maybe family. Be it a potential friend, girlfriend, fiancé, soon-to-be wife, co-founder, business partner, employer, employee, supplier, investor, customer and what not.
I am not saying that this is necessarily a conscious mechanism. In most cases it is just a basic human instinct to evaluate the risk of something we consider doing. The amygdale, the part of our brains where our instinct is located is evaluating every new situation and its involved risk with a simple decision mechanism, one that tells us to either run away or to stay.
But what can we do if we don't want to bother with risk and uncertainty aversion of most people we want to interact with any longer? Well, we simply have to take it out of the equation and start reducing everyone's involved risk.
That sounds simple, but how can we actually do that? What usually worked quite well for me in these kinds of situations was to signal my good intentions and that I am worth interacting with.These good intentions need to be signaled in different ways according to the person or group of people we are interacting with.
Now let's have a quick look at how we can reduce risks in our relationships, be it private or business life:
Do we want to convince a potential girlfriend/boyfriend that a relationship with us is worth a shot we might need to signal good qualities, such as faithfulness, honesty, humor, empathy and sometimes even good looks. This might ultimately reduce the risk of wasting time, getting hurt or being cheated on.
If we want to convince our existing girlfriends/boyfriends to transition to fiancé or getting married we need to put some more things on the table than just the above mentioned criteria. Additionally, we need to display some sort of "bearer/provider" qualities that signal that we are either able to give birth to a child or able to feed a family.
Reducing the risks and gaining a potential customer’s trust and then converting them into a paying customer is already a bit more complicated and something most companies, especially startups don’t really pay a lot of attention to. The key to gaining a potential customer’s trust can be found here: “Business is dead – Humans are back”.
To convince potential partners that interacting with us is not risky needs some more effort. This can usually be achieved through personal introductions, showing considerable traction (revenue, customers, audience) or having some popular reference customers lined up already. Trying to acquire big names in the beginning is usually not such a good idea and a waste of time. Spreading our own risk among multiple partners is usually the best way to go if we just started.
Convincing potential co-founders is not as easy as it might sound. In a best case scenario we would already have some kind of traction on the market or an investment lined up. As this is quite hard to achieve in such an early stage there are some other ways. If we display brilliant pitching and sales skills while convincing potential co-founders that might already be a first indicator to them that you are also able to convince others.
Reducing an investor’s risk is something almost no startup ever thinks about. That’s why I will talk about it in a slightly more detailed way. What we think about when we are talking to investors is the potential of our idea. We usually never think about the riskiness of our idea or product for a potential investor.
Everyone just thinks about opportunities and we seem to simply forget that investors are also humans, following similar decision patterns like everyone else does. They are also risk averse and tend to be more or less reluctant to accepting uncertainty.
But they can be convinced a lot easier than most of us when it comes to adapting and accepting new things that they believed to be impossible just a while ago. All it needs are some real numbers collected on the market, instead of some imaginary numbers from some analyst report about market size, growth and market share.
A couple of months ago I published a story about how you can better understand investors and convince them about your idea’s potential. You can read it here: "Understanding Investors"
So I guess, once we realize that it's almost always about reducing risks it’s actually not that complicated anymore to convince people and get what we want. So let’s go out, start reducing risks and become better at convincing people...