Risk little, win little

I was talking to an adviser about risk and the role risk-takers play in helping any business to succeed, and we came up with these conclusions.

* While risk-takers get excited about taking chances, and experienced entrepreneurs learn to take good risks, the risk-averse often get defensive when asked to take even a small chance.

* Risk-takers are envied by those who yearn to take risks and serve as role models for those who have enough confidence to try.

* The risk-averse often resent successful risk-takers. Each time a risk-taker is successful, it causes the risk-avoider to question his or her approach.

* The risk-averse are the first to rush to comfort risk-takers who fail. While charity is a virtue, many risk-averse people gain validation by comforting risk-takers.

* In organizations where taking risks is discouraged, mediocrity, groupthink and the “not invented here” mentality is likely to result.

* Risk aversion has nothing to do with being conservative, older or powerful. Many who are liberal, younger or powerless also remain locked in their comfort zones, no matter how miserable they are.

* While respect for the Almighty, one’s employer or any legitimate institution or tradition is sensible, anyone who transfers their complete fate and destiny out of their own hands is fully risk-averse. They are denying personal risk or responsibility by pushing it away. When we absolve ourselves of personal responsibility, we open the door to anarchy, fanaticism and fatalism. Perhaps large corporations can manage people like sheep, but no entrepreneur can or should.

Why is such an understanding of risk and how people react to risk-taking important to your business?

As an owner who needs to grow his or her business, you must surround yourself with risk-takers and nurture those who try. The concept of risk is at the core of entrepreneurship, competition and even excellence. If employees will not assume intelligent risk, how can they succeed or serve you and your business?

Risk little, win little. Andrew J. Birol is president of Birol Growth Consulting and co-founder of Independent Entrepreneur. He helps owners grow their businesses by understanding and targeting their best and highest use. Reach him at (440) 349-1970, at [email protected]