Right now, entrepreneurs are standing in front of some of the biggest money—and the biggest money opportunities—in human history. It’s staggering.
As I talk to up-and-comers and seasoned pros alike, two crucial conversations come up: How do I quickly decide whether an opportunity is worth it? How do I get other people to leap with me?
No one wants to tell you this, but most of the time, leaders who make it big take a SWAG: a scientific wild a– guess.
As an entrepreneur, your ability to evaluate an opportunity is invaluable. It’s part experience and part gut instinct.
I remember the 1990s. We were in a golden era and racing to innovate. Business models rose and fell, it seemed like, every year. It was all table stakes all the time. As the real-world application of the internet became more clear, seemingly can’t-miss opportunities were crushed to irrelevance.
What was happening then is happening now.
We’ve got Web3, decentralized finance, globalization—you name it. There is a whole reset occurring in the market. People who get smart about it fast will capitalize on the opportunities. You have to go deep with research, memorize historical patterns and build the brightest possible team. Then, you need the guts to act on your SWAG.
You may be internally motivated and risk-tolerant. But the analysts, specialists and talent you need to advance into a new market may have trouble tracking with you. Trust is the currency you need to get your team to leap.
In 2008-09, my company, Buyer Tours Realty, was grappling with how to endure the economic downturn. To reduce overhead, we decided to shift to virtual work and launch eXp Realty. This was obviously way before remote work was standard practice. We essentially sent people home with computers. It was a burn-the-boats kind of moment.
One key to success here was that we, as leaders, didn’t frame it as a necessary evil. Rather, we aligned under the banner of “This is a new way of doing things.” Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. If you’ve led your team well, you’ll have banked enough trust to take these game-changing risks, for whatever reason you have to or want to take them.
Today, eXp Realty has more than 2,000 people on staff and 85,000 agents operating in 23 countries. We built to this point on the momentum of early choices like that, casting a vision for doing something brand new. And we burned the boats: There was no turning back.
This is a dynamic that has been leveraged by visionaries for generations. It’s the reality distortion field that Bud Tribble used with regard to Steve Jobs. You’ve got to make these brave educated guesses and get people to believe them. You’re bringing something new into a space that didn’t have space for it before.
When you work this way, you have to double down on conversations, dialogue, leadership development and more. In fact, it’s why I became a certified SUCCESS coach—to dedicate myself even more to personal and professional development opportunities. And it’s worth it, because when you’re a dedicated leader pursuing purpose-driven work, people are excited to get out of bed in the morning. They aren’t going to “quiet quit” on you. They’ll follow you to the edge and be willing to take risks.
The balance is that you create safety within. There is some chaos out there in the wild west of emerging markets. Great, entrepreneurially minded leaders carve out a safe place. Then, no one cares that there’s no going back.
It’s time to take your SWAG.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine.