Risk is opportunity

When I was younger, I used to joke that my lack of experience allowed me to be wide open to learning new things and taking risks.

Over the years, I’ve gained a lot of experience and come to understand my strengths as a business leader, but I’ll readily admit that it’s becoming harder to take risks and push myself into uncharted territory.

So as we ring in a new year, I thought it would be fitting to share my personal experience with risk.

Don’t talk yourself out of taking risks

I believe that taking risks is critical to creating new paths of continuous learning in life and in business.

For a business, risk can uncover new markets, new audiences and new capabilities. Risk forces leaders to set aside their fears and take strides toward future success.

Although many people — myself included — are tempted to succumb to excuses like, “this isn’t the right time” or “I don’t think I can do it,” learning to move past such insecurities will lead to new levels of success for you and your business.

I first learned about taking risks from my father, a small business owner with a dream to expand his pizza shop.

Having worked alongside him for years, I experienced firsthand the effects of stepping outside of my comfort zone. In most cases, those calculated risks preceded some of my greatest business accomplishments.

Throwing doubt aside, one more time

This past year, I was challenged to do so again when a mentor of mine, Paul Otte, pushed me to write a book.

I’m a wife, a mother, a businesswoman and a philanthropist, but becoming an author was never on my bucket list. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I owed it to the family legacy to share the Donatos story.

While this book is the history of our business — as a small pizza shop on the southside of Columbus that eventually sold to the biggest restaurant company in the world — my hope is that it can inspire and help other small business leaders.

Thus, I put pen to paper, threw doubt aside and wrote from my heart.

My first book, “The Missing Piece: Doing Business the Donatos Way,” was published in December.

It’s my account of a lifelong education in leadership, authenticity and running a values-based company.

And it’s tangible proof that I’m still up for taking risks.


Jane Grote Abell is the Chairwoman of the Board of Donatos Pizza. A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane is heavily focused on the chain’s mission of promoting goodwill through product, service, principles and people.