How To Take Risk In Business Without Losing It All | Dan Martell

How much risk should you take in your business? In this video, I share my framework around risk-taking so you can get rewarded while keeping your sanity.

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Do you have a friend who keeps failing in business?

No matter what they start, it ends up in flames and burns down everything they’ve ever built in the process?

It’s a sad reality for many founders.

But it’s also one they could’ve fully avoided with the right risk assessment strategies.

Cause here’s the problem…

Every time they start a new business, they put everything on the line.

Which wouldn’t be a critical flaw in itself unless…

1) They haven’t FULLY committed to the idea.

Sure they love the idea, but they haven’t made the decision to go ALL IN.

To “go pro”!

Their new venture is something they think they’d enjoy working at and are willing to spend time & money “testing” it out…

… however, as soon as things get hard, they get distracted.

They get scared.

So they start looking for something else.

Has that ever happened to you? Maybe a decision to pivot your business model when you knew you should’ve stayed the course?

It’s worth thinking about.

Are you actually 100,000% committed to your business?

Or do you just like the idea of pretending you are?

Recognizing the difference can be the difference between a quickly scaling startup, and a flaming trainwreck that takes you and all your assets down with you.

That brings us to the second reason…

2) They think that putting their money on the line makes it real.

You know what makes a company real?

Customer ORDERS!

Real people willing to buy what you’ve got to sell.

It’s not the embroidered polo shirts, registered domain name, or 12 month lease on the fancy new co-working space.

These founders are confusing progress with risk.

Real risk is understanding how much time, money and resources you can put on the table WITHOUT being taken out of the game.

It’s understanding your skills, your experience and your ability to deal with adversity and calculating how far you can set your vision.

In this week’s video I share four filters you can use to charge full speed ahead without having the whiplash of falling completely on your face.

Any time I make a decision in my business, I’m always assessing the risk against these filters:

1. Horizon: Never further than % of your abilities
2. Impact: Sacrificing without permission
3. Magic Zone: Outside comfort zone
4. Passion: Is it a wrong I want to right?

One of my favourite questions I love asking my mentors is:

“What criteria do you consider when making big strategic or life decisions?”

Over the years it’s how I’ve refined my ability to make decisions FAST!

So what about you?

Leave a comment with your answer? How do you decide if a new business is a good idea? If you should make a big move? I would love to read your strategy and have you share it with the rest of the community.

Have an incredible day!

With gratitude,

– Dan

Don’t forget to share this entrepreneurial advice with your friends, so they can learn too:


“You can only keep what you give away.” That’s the mantra that’s shaped Dan Martell from a struggling 20-something business owner in the Canadian Maritimes (which is waaay out east) to a successful startup founder who’s raised more than $3 million in venture funding and exited not one… not two… but three tech businesses:, Spheric and Flowtown.

You can only keep what you give away. That philosophy has led Dan to invest in 33+ early stage startups such as Udemy, Intercom, Unbounce and Foodspotting. It’s also helped him shape the future of Hootsuite as an advisor to the social media tour de force.

An activator, a tech geek, an adrenaline junkie and, yes, a romantic (ask his wife Renee), Dan has recently turned his attention to teaching startups a fundamental, little-discussed lesson that directly impacts their growth: how to scale. You’ll find not only incredible insights in every moment of every talk Dan gives – but also highly actionable takeaways that will propel your business forward. Because Dan gives freely of all that he knows. After all, you can only keep what you give away.

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8 thoughts on “How To Take Risk In Business Without Losing It All | Dan Martell

  1. Risk is a funny word. Many founders like to think of themselves as big risk takers, when in reality their “worst case scenario” is a cushy fallback into a $100K+ day job. Real risk requires some filters. In this video I walk you through four filters I use for making BIG financial and personal business decisions.

  2. Dan, I think you hit the nail on the head with this one, as entrepreneurs sometimes we literally go all in without factoring the impact it may have to those closest to us. I learnt the hard way and it lead to a complete 180 to a point whereby I know consider myself a bit too conservative. Great content as always looking forward to Archangel Summit.

  3. Dan great vid as always……Few thoughts and few questions for you…

    There is something powerful about being young, single and broke….That is when I started my first business…No experience, very less money….Beauty of that is at that point is I really cornered myself…Either I had to make it work or go back to 9-5 (and I knew no one would hire me after that)…..However I couldn't be more fearless… So I hustled i.e banged my head against the wall until the wall broke…took 1.5 years before the business took and eventually grew that to close to 100 employees….

    Now that I am in my 30s, onto my next venture…about 100 times smarter, 100 time more threshold for failure, a lot more saved up and available for investment into the business….

    Still the same brute force is not there…..With the comfort that you are not about to go broke, there are too many 'options' around causing lack of unwanted concentration…. and believe me I am quite passionate about building businesses…However with the options available the Entrepreneur ADD kicks in and you want to do everything.

    Would be nice see a video from you on:

    -2nd time Entrepreneurs (Trappings, how they can do things better)
    -Perhaps on how older Entrepreneurs 30s+ can hustle the same way as a aspiring 20 year old Entrepreneur.


    Onto the questions related to Video:

    -You talk about staying in your Magic Zone…What if you really have no magic zone and you started building businesses at a young age..Would you say a good to find your magic zone would be build mini dream teams in few of the shortlisted industries you want to explore and hold enough Founders dinners etc until you really have a fair idea about it? What would be your approach?

    -Based on your this video…What someone has already spent a ton of money into a product where has a very strong product (based on user feedback) compare to others in the market but due to lack of domain knowledge about the particular industry is having issues driving qualified users….Also he is not particularly passionate about the domain (after actually diving in and learning about it in detail post product development)…What would be your advise? Keep putting money and find a way to drive users? Try to sell it? (if so, given a product with few users how?), Bite the bullet and scrap it?

    Many thanks

  4. BTW another topic you might want to make a vid on…

    This HUSTLE Culture…..Would love to hear your thoughts on it..

    I think too much of it is being pushed now a days…Especially by a particular gentleman we all know I keep seeing on my Newsfeed…

    Blind hustle and preaching 20 hour days I think that can be dangerous for new entrepreneurs…

    Granted I was working crazy hours in my startup…Average 14hours 7 days a week..Sleeping in office most days…Looking back most of those of hours were unproductive…

    I wish I instead knew the power of time management, delegation, better planning etc…Could have saved me a lot of depression lol…

  5. Awsome!
    My story is…I'm 32. I have 3 kids and amazing wife. We all live in N.Europe, with loans, mortgage, and other costs…I worked on a couple of projects. Learned a lot, but failed. I still have energy and drive to build something big. So I started a side project with 20% in my horizon. Just moved to the US, leaving my family and everything, to be where the opportunity is. So I can build and make something big with my knowledge, team and the idea.
    Thanks for motivation and advice!

  6. Dan you are the man!! Each time I see your new videos I'm more inclined to start my own business… I wish I could tell you about everything that I have in mind… Just to get your feedback… Please let me know if that is possible!! I would really like to talk to you!! I'm a big fan and a huge follower… I hope some time I get to talk to you!!

  7. My story is right now i have so many things i am doing youtube and a comic book company with a friend that we are trying to start up. Im 23 no kids, have my own car, a job and a girlfriend

  8. Hey Dan, BTW I'm still buzzing from ITE Live! Well, biggest risk I took in life: Moved to Canada 3 years ago quitting my own company, with wife (she left her small biz behind) and two boys (3y/2y old), Please share you personal one. Keep pushing!

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