By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!






This theme, this concern, this worry about risk has permeated almost every conversation I’ve had with designers over the last several weeks. 

It occurred to me that this is likely one of the top problems designers face in their careers: an aversion to risk. 

I get it. I, too, do not seek out risk unnecessarily. But I also know that risk is a part of, honestly, everyday life. 

We also take professional risks all the time. You take a professional risk every time you do a presentation for a client. You probably don’t think about it that way. We don’t frame it as a risk because it’s something we know we have to do. If you don’t give a presentation, then you can’t move the project along. 

There’s also the fear of uncertainty. 

We are wired to prefer certainty. Of course. Why? because then we understand and appreciate the outcomes. And who wouldn’t want that? We all want certainty in our lives. 

The problem begins when it eeks into your business decisions. And risks inside businesses are all about financial security. 

Will I lose my shirt if I take on a new business venture?

Will my reputation be damaged if I screw up a project?

Will there be legal risks?

I am hearing from designers like you about all of those risks—financial security, reputation damage, and legal risks—and they are normal and to be expected. But when they get in the way, you miss out on potential opportunities. They can slow down your career advancement and reduce your competitive edge. 

But your brain tells you that the risk aversion keeps you safe. So now you weigh all your risks against missing out on opportunities, slowing down your career, and reducing your competitive edge. All to stay ‘safe’. 

I am not going to judge anyone at anytime for making decisions for themselves. None of us can know what’s truly going on in your lives at this moment. Only you know what’s going on and have to make those decisions yourself. But that is part of the decision making process. 

So you have all these fears. What do you do with them?

What I learned a number of years ago, and what I have shared about in the past, is that my teenage daughter suffers from anxiety, and this is something we uncovered years ago. And we went to see someone for her, and the woman said to my daughter, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” That really stuck with me, and I have applied that to so many aspects of not only my personal life but also my business life. 

So, what is the worst thing that could happen? 

Once you establish your absolute worst-case scenario, I have found it takes the edge off of the fear. You’ve already established what the very worst thing that can happen is. Now, we want to take a step back. And then start doing the research. 

I tell a story in today’s episode about a designer who was anxious about taking on a whole house project. She had years of experience doing kitchens and baths, but in her mind, she thought she would work up to doing a full house project. 

And I, too, have these lengthy conversations with myself, and that’s why I want to share this with all of you. 

You all are not alone freaking out about potentially good things. But it’s the freaking out that is skewing your decision-making process. 

Once we start breaking the project down into steps and stages, how would you handle this? Where are your skills here? Where are your skills missing? 

What I want each of you to determine is whether this is a stretch or is this a leap? Because there is a difference in stretching your skills and taking massive leaps. In my opinion, if this project was a leap for this designer, then the gaps in her experience would be very challenging for her to make up on the fly. But if it’s a stretch, which is what it was beginning to feel like, that’s different. And that’s also a different fear than a leap.

All of my decisions are information and data-driven. It removes all of the anxiety. It removes my aversion to the risk involved. It’s like driving. I am taking a calculated risk. Assuming that that driver is going to stay on their side of the lane because they’re going to follow the rules. I get my data points together. I look at them, and then I make the decision on my projected risk. 

Knowing where your fear is coming from is powerful and empowering! You can decide what to do with it at that point. Once you put a name to your fears, everything is more manageable. So I want to encourage each of you to take away the spiraling. 

Work out your worst case scenario and work backwards from there. Collect information. Do research. Collect data. And then and only then will I start making some decisions. And you should do it without judgement. Because there are times when fear will win out. And that is ok. It is winning out for a reason at this moment. It does not mean it’s going to win out every time. 

But if you do all your research, you do your homework, and build that worst-case scenario, and you still say, it’s a bridge too far. That is a good business decision. Saying no to something you don’t think you will succeed at is actually the best business decision you can make at the moment. And trust me, it does not mean that that opportunity will not happen again unless you’re not open to it. We cannot predict the future, so you must make your decisions today for you, today. And then, you learn from those decisions. 

I hope that if you recognize yourself in any of the examples given in today’s podcast episode, you will walk away with some actionable steps to mitigate this risk, start calming the spiraling down, and make professional and advisable decisions on exciting new opportunities. 

The projects that scare the crap out of you the most are probably the most exciting projects you’ve been offered to date! 

Make sure that is part of your decision-making process. Acknowledge the fact that someone is seeing a skill set in you that you may not be noticing or admitting to yourself. 

As always, please feel free to reach out to me! Email me at or send me a DM on social media.

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