Making Small Bets

Small Bets

“When nothing is working, explore and make a lot of small bets.

After something starts working, double down on what works best.

When that stops working, explore and make a lot of small bets again.” —James Clear

“I’d like to launch a course,” my client said.

My stomach tightened.

I don’t have a crystal ball, and I can’t know for sure what’s best for anyone’s business.

But his desire to launch a course scared me.

Because launching a course is not a small bet. 

Actually, that’s not entirely true.

For some people, in some circumstances, it might be.

But here are reasons it didn’t seem like a small bet (and thus a wise move) for him:

  • He just left a full-time job to build his 1:1 coaching practice. It’s not paying the bills yet. It therefore deserves a lot of attention.
  • The course he’s envisioning is targeted at a different audience, and solves a different problem, than his current 1:1 coaching. Very little of the messaging work we’ve already done together would apply.
  • While he has a body of knowledge in the arena the course would be about, he doesn’t have an AUDIENCE related to it. He’s not yet known for solving that problem.
  • He also hasn’t launched a course before. As an FFT, it has the potential to have a steep learning curve and take a lot of time and money.

I told him all this, and recommended that he focus on small bets instead.

Small bets like…

  • If he’s really committed to expanding into this topic, consider running a free webinar or workshop about it as a first step.
  • Consider creating and validating a new 1:1 offering related to solving this problem. (Yes, it won’t scale. But in a service business, I think it’s smarter to forget about scaling at first. Get good at solving the problem for real people. THEN systematize it. More on this in Alex Hormozi’s book $100M Offers)

TBD how it will play out for the client.

But I hope he gets to avoid pouring his heart into something that turns out to be a distraction that doesn’t sell. 

So: How have you taken small bets in your life and business? Got any good stories?

Statistically yours,


PS – Big bets aren’t ALWAYS a bad idea. But when you’re in new territory, I don’t recommend them unless you have a high tolerance for failure. 

PPS – Know any coaches who run podcasts? Hit reply and let me know about them, please! I’m collecting a list of cool ones produced by people I jive with.

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