Risk vs. Calculated Risk

By August 15, 2010E-Rep

This is a story about risk, but a bit of background is necessary, so please bear with me through the first paragraph.

Eleven years ago, when The YPS Group was launched, “we” made a strategic decision to focus on serving small to mid size customers, from $5 to $500 million in revenue.  “We” also decided to stay small ourselves; to be a boutique consulting business; to not hire any employees and to use contractors sparingly.  “We” are still here.  (OK, OK, “I” am still here…), proving, at a minimum that the strategy is at least valid.

Landing some business with a $30 million integrator late last year was therefore exactly according to plan.  That’s when Risk reared its ugly head.  At the time, I was about 60 days into my new and big time commitment to using social media as the primary YPS sales and marketing tool.  For whatever reason, the customer CEO was quite intrigued with what “we” were doing.  (See E-Rep, and if you’re interested, search for E-Rep on this blog for more info.)

Of course I was happy to talk about it for as long as he wanted.  Problem is, he kept asking questions I couldn’t answer.  Risk #1:  Have a meeting with the CEO and the two guys who were mentoring me on social media for B2B selling.

Risk or Calculated Risk?  These two guys (Stone Payton & Todd Schnick) were and are having success.  In two months, “we” had landed three deals (one of which is for “us” a big deal) as a direct result of integrating their recommendations.  On a personal level I like this pair.  The C-word fits the scenario.  Sure some risk, but a calculated one.

Fast forward a bit.  CEO likes what he hears and concludes he needs YPS help to implement his E-Rep.  So YPS needs not one, but two contractors to pull it off.  Off the YPS strategy?   Yep.  Risk?  Yep.  But this stuff worked for me, the trust is all there, it’s a small project.  C-word fits.

CEO very pleased with what we do.  (Notice now it’s we vs. “we.”)  Invites us to a meeting with his new $3 billion (that’s billion with “b”) alliance partner.  They all like what they see.  The small, short term project is now a medium size, long term project.  Risk?  Not much of one, and the C-word absolutely fits here.

Fast forward again.  CEO demos what we built for the partner’s VP of Marketing who loves it.  The scheduled one hour meeting spills into the third hour.  As my customer CEO tells me about this, I instinctively ask him to broker a meeting for YPS with the partner.  He replies, “I’m way ahead of you on that.”

Yikes!  A successful decade plus of avoiding projects with large corporations, no employees and only occasional dabbling with contractors for miscellaneous help and YPS is gonna’ try to sell what?  To whom?  Regardless, we (without the quotes) are going for it.  Risk?  YES!  C-word appropriate?

Well, the new E-Rep stuff as we’ll recommend using it works for me and my two cohorts.  It’s working for the first customer in this story.  It’s working for the folks managing the alliance for the big partner.  The VP marketing is very intrigued with the underlying concepts & with what’s been accomplished so far and knows we’re just three random guys.  The three of us trust one another.  Ergo, Dreamland Interactive.

Calculated risk?  Or just risk?  What do you think?

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