In 1907, a young man, whose first name was Joyce, and his two older brothers decided to go into business for themselves and open a postcard company in tiny Norfolk, Nebraska.
Well, things didn’t go as planned. Business was slow to nothing. Understanding that a change was needed, in 1910, Joyce dropped out of high school and with two shoe boxes full of postcards, he boarded a train for Kansas City, MO. Once Joyce arrived in Kansas City, he began selling his postcards, as well as additional products manufactured by others to drugstores and gift shops.
Joyce was a good salesperson, and soon the business had grown large enough that his two other brothers joined him. However, luck would soon run out, because in 1915 – just 5 years after Joyce had arrived in Kansas City – a fire completely wiped out his young company’s entire inventory.
With their inventory of other company’s products gone, the boys made a risky decision to manufacture their own products. And since they knew the postcard business, they purchased an engraving company which set the stage for them to create their own cards.
That risky decision was not the only one that Joyce would make. Attempting to grow the business, Joyce took out ads in magazines and papers – even though everyone told him that advertising was no way to run a business. But, he did it anyway. He even sponsored a live television show, which most experts said would be a huge waste of money and an even larger mistake. But, he did it anyway.
Joyce was a risk taker, even to the point of going against everyone at the company – including his brothers – as to how to mark the back of the card,s so that people would know that they were getting a “top notch” product. Everyone else wanted to mark the back of the cards with the words, “A Hall Brother’s Company.” But Joyce preferred a simpler phrase, so he chose the words, “A Hallmark Company” … and the rest is history. The Hallmark Company grew from a small three man operation to one of the largest and most respected companies in the world with yearly revenues reported in the billions.
Joyce had always chosen to listen to his own instincts and ignore the opinion of others. He knew his business; he knew his customers, and he had faith in himself. He was willing to work hard, be persistent, and take calculated risks.
Hard work, persistence and calculated risk are the “hallmark” (if you pardon the wording) of all entrepreneurs and those who dare to try and do what others say can’t be done. And while most understand hard work and persistence, the calculated risk part is a bit trickier.
You see, calculated risk is different from reckless action. Reckless action is just that – reckless. Action with little to no thought or planning. However, calculated risk involves the utilization of past experience, current information, and just plain guts.
And that’s not to say that by taking a calculated risk that everything will work out well or even as you had planned, because it oftentimes doesn’t. Like the Hall brothers after the fire, you have to be willing to make adjustments – and then keep going.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or just having to make an important decision, try not to make rash decisions. Instead, take a step back, think, research, consider your options and THEN act. And even if your ultimate decision appears stupid or risky to others, use one last ingredient of taking a calculated risk – and that is faith in yourself that despite whatever happens, you can always, if you choose, try again.
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