What Does It Mean To Be A Risk Taker
Jun 26 2011

Entrepreneurs are often labeled as risk takers.  Crazy and insane.  It’s mostly true but people view risk differently.  What might look absolutely insane to one person is actually calculated risk taking.  Most businesses fail or don’t make it to the big acquisitions, so yes all entrepreneurs (especially in technology) are taking big gambles with their finances and personal lives.  In several cases both end up in disarray.  Fred Wilson wrote some great posts recently on company exits.  One is There Aren’t Many Venture Backed IPOs and the other is There Aren’t Many Exits Over $100mm.

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What I have anecdotal-ly observed is that the entrepreneurs who end up most successful have first a) a lot of luck and good timing and also b) the ability to take calculated risks.  They jump but not without a parachute in their backpack or without first having calculated the odds of success and failure on each particular task.

I did something crazy today.  For the first time ever, the kids and I accidentally locked ourselves outside of the house, but fortunately the garage was still open.   Thankfully, it’s still light outside late since it’s summer.  So with the help of my neighbor’s flashlight and him watching the kids, I walked across the attic in this hot, sticky heat and made it to the inside entry.  I could have fallen through the roof or a multiple other things could have happened, but somehow I had consciously and unconsciously run through several scenarios in my mind including I knew others had been in the attic doing work in the past and no one had fallen, although the house is over 30 years old it was good construction, I was in pretty good shape, etc. so I figured it was worth the risk.  In this case everything turned out OK, and I lived to write this post.  I guess all that tree and roof climbing as a kid paid off!

Now if I can only translate that climbing & physical risk taking ability into starting or being a part of a successful multi-million dollar business… :-)

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