My grandmother recently passed away. She was 91 and lived in Hawaii. I decided to take my son with me to attend the services and, to break up the sadness and make it a little fun for him, I planned a day at Hanauma Bay. The draw to this world-famous beach is the easy snorkeling right off the sand. The sea life that can be viewed in the protected reef is stunning in its variety. I hadn’t been there in more than a decade and looked forward to seeing the delight in my son’s eyes as we snorkeled together for the first time.

Well, that rosy vision wound up staying firmly in the realm of fantasy. As soon as we arrived, my 5-year-old refused to go into the water any farther than knee high. No fish here.

“But there are all kinds of friendly fish in the water to see! C’mon, we just need to get a little farther out,” I cajoled.

It was no use — he growled his displeasure and ran back to the sandy beach.

I watched as other families happily went out into the water, with individuals popping up like gophers every so often, exclaiming, “I saw a parrotfish!” or “There’s a whole school of yellow tangs here!”

Like my son, some of the children were scared at first, but they conquered their fear and reaped big rewards.

The risk they took of being out in deeper water paid off in the scores of bright and colorful marine life they were able to enjoy. It reminded me of the risks small companies take in many aspects of their business, ranging from the small (say, offering a new service or product) to the large, such as the option to expand. An element of risk is necessary to reap the rewards in business and in life. And there’s no better time than now.

The recent number of acquisitions in the pool/spa industry indicate a positive mind-set in terms of potential growth. When such consolidations occur, companies can expand their reach by leveraging the two customer bases for new growth. Smaller businesses should use the time now to plan on the risks they’re willing to take for a greater payoff later.

As for my son, he later reassessed the risks and wound up waist-high, where he was able to see a few not-so-splashy looking fishes. But he whooped and hollered as if he had seen the most beautiful lionfish.

And that was enough of a payoff for a 5-year-old boy.