On Monday, I took my wife on a date. We had ramen and then went to a Japanese style arcade at the mall.

Among the many games we played, was a football throwing game. You’ve probably played the game where you shoot baskets for time to see who can score the most points. This game was similar, but with little footballs that you would throw at three holes in the wall. The bottom hole was big and worth 20 points, the middle smaller for 30, and the top hole was smallest for 50 points. My wife beat me by forty points.

What does this have to do with business growth?

My wife doesn’t have a cannon for an arm. Instead, her strategy was just to throw the ball at the big bottom hole for 20 points a toss. Her consistency in making those throws trumped my strategy, which was a few at the small 50 hole and most tosses at the middle-sized 30 hole.

Yesterday, I wrote about our essential, but doomed, efforts as entrepreneurs and the need for risk mitigation, risk offsetting, and the capability to learn from failures and adapt them into what will work (aka the pivot.)

Another layer in choosing goals for your business is that not all goals are equally challenging or rewarding. Some goals will be easy and give you 20 points, some hard for 50. Unlike a game though, some goals will be easy for 50 points and some hard for 20 points. But it’s still common that real life higher return goals carry more risk (but not always.)

Frameworks like the Eisenhower Matrix (https://knighterrant.co/impact-ease-grid/) can help identify work that matters by charting impact against ease.

Relating to risk, another ratio to plot is expectation against impact. In other words, how risky is something against what kind of difference it will make?

Depending on where you’re at in your business journey, what strategy is most effective will vary. If you’re cash strapped, you probably should be chasing low risk objectives. Systematizing, optimizing, cutting costs. Things that will almost certainly lead to more profit. At the later end of the journey, when you’re sitting like Scrooge McDuck on piles of cash, you might find that the harder middle risk / higher return shots are worth your time.

Can you discern how risky your possible choices are?

Featured image is Carnival in Rome, c. 1650 by Johannes Lingelbach. Used under public domain.