Having one of anything tends to be the easiest and most comfortable way to approach life, but actually leads to the most problems, risk, and stress. It’s tempting to find one good marketing solution, one great job, one key customer or employee, or the one sure investment, but be aware of the risks and problems inherent in the number One. Here are a few common examples:
Income — With only one source of income, you’ll always be at the mercy of that single income source. With multiple sources of income, you and your family will face less stress and be exposed to less risk, but more importantly, you’ll be able to live life more on your terms, rather than on someone else’s.
Customer — If you’re a small business owner and have one big customer that accounts for the majority of your business, you’re exposing yourself to excessive risk. You’re also more likely to be pressured into doing things you’d rather not do or on terms less advantageous to you.
Investments — Being invested in one investment violates the number one rule in investing—don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. As important as this is, people do this all the time by investing heavily in their employer’s stock such as was the case for many employees of Enron. But this is also common among entrepreneurs by investing everything they have in their own company and not later trying to become more diversified.
Employees — Having one key employee is cheaper and easier, especially when you get lucky and find a great one, but it exposes you to a lot of risk. Always cross train two employees for each and every position so you’re never hung out to dry if one is sick, quits, or must be fired. Secondly, in my years of investigating employee theft, it was always the lone key employee that was able to get away with theft without a second employee’s interference. Finally, the more responsibility one key employee has, the easier it is for them to hold you hostage by ridiculous demands in compensation and benefits.
Marketing — Never rely on one form of marketing regardless of how cheap or effective that one is. It’s too easy to become dependent on one media and then have taken away from you and all of your business goes away with it. Businesses have disappeared overnight when the government has outlawed certain methods of advertising such as cold calls, faxes, or email. Always use multiple media sources to drive your business.
These are just a few examples of areas where the Number One can cause you a lot or anxiety and expose you to unnecessary risk. Take the lesson that commercial airlines and elite military and SWAT units have known for years. Redundancy in everything is how you prevent catastrophes. Investing and business are already stressful enough, so do everything you can to minimize your risks and put yourself in a position of power by never relying on One.
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