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As COO of ERA Real Estate, Simon Chen makes decisions on a daily basis that affect the success of thousands of brokers, agents and employees. Each and every decision involves a degree of risk, and the judgment required to balance risk and reward, tradition and innovation and competitive and economic realities. We asked Simon what every business person should know about risk-taking so you can have the confidence to take the road less travelled—and win big.

If you want to grow your business, risk is necessary. Accept it. If you want to grow faster than competitors and the industry, there is proportionately more risk that you need to be willing to take on.

Risks and innovation can be both backward- and forward-thinking. Risks can involve entirely new innovations, or they can be a better way of doing something that’s always been done. Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, but he found a new way to produce it, at a price that any middle-class family could afford.

Set benchmarks. Identify the KPIs for progress and success of the initiative and track it. If you’re not hitting KPIs, adjust and adapt. Identify what the absolute break point is as a KPI. Any well-disciplined investor knows that there is a floor and a ceiling.

Know what it means to reach the goal. In real estate, there are plenty of agents who say they want to make a lot of money. They realize the potential for financial success is there, but they have no idea how to get there, or what to do on a daily basis in order to achieve it. The highest performers have daily and weekly measurements for how to execute on their goals. Those smaller milestones help them stay motivated and on track.

Prepare to get rewarded—and set back—through risk-taking. Any risk could end in failure. That’s life. But over time, risk-takers almost always outperform those who choose to do things the way they have always been done.

When you fail, fail fast. Big companies tend to lose innovation because of their scale. ERA lets its teams know that it’s okay to fail fast. See the failure, evaluate a second option, and then abort, recover, move on—fast.

Don’t be afraid of beer and pizza. Give people dedicated time, focus and attention, and they can be so much more productive when they’re away from the day-to-day job. Have off-sites, have fun and watch the productivity and innovation happen as a result.

For more information, please visit www.era.com.

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