We read and hear about successful entrepreneurs all the time in the prints, on the web and Television. The thing is, we hear about them because they are successful. What about does who
are not? How many times do we see unsuccessful entrepreneurs making the headlines? Few and far between I guess, if there ever was any to begin with. So, does this means that to be
considered an entrepreneur, one must first enjoy some form of success? Or is entrepreneurship more a matter of philosophy?
So, what exactly is entrepreneurship? As a concept, entrepreneurship has a wide range of meanings. Run the word through the internet and we will find tens, if not hundreds of related
results, each with its own version of what the word means. However, we can also find similar themes that the different views share. One of them is the need for entrepreneurs to take risk. So what is risk-taking? Oxford Dictionaries.com defines risk as:
‘a situation involving exposure to danger; act in such a way as to bring about the possibility of (an unpleasant or unwelcome event); the possibility of financial loss;’
To consider oneself as ‘taking a risk’, the potential lost must be of some significance to the risktaker. The higher the potential lost, or opportunity for losing, the greater the risk.
The term ‘Risk-taking’ has been used too loosely at times, as a general descriptive to describe situations where it is more about trying one’s luck rather than putting oneself in a genuinely risky position. The reality is, how many of us actually have enough to put on the line for it to be considered a ‘real’ risk to begin with? If ‘real’ risk-taking means the potential lost is significant enough to alter the rest of our lives, how many are game for it?
Risk-taking’ sounds massive and like it’s attached with heavy responsibilities and consequences. It probably is, especially so in the context of entrepreneurship. The successful entrepreneurs we know often speak of their past failures and how important those painful lessons are in helping them find success. At the same time, there are also many who took risks, failed and never recovered. If risk-taking and entrepreneurship are so easy, then there would be plenty of them filling the streets right now. So can risk-taking be easy? Well, it would be a great irony if it is. If the endeavor ever was a stroll in the park, the idea of entrepreneurship would be greatly undermined.
Instead of making it easy, we can, and some would argue should, make ‘risk-taking’ more manageable, by breaking the concept down into ‘bite-sizes’ and overtime, cultivate and embed it
as a personal ways of life. If we were to strip the idea of ‘risk-taking’ to its barest, we are essentially talking about trying new things. Asking someone to try something new sounds a lot
more do-able compared to telling them to take a risk. Each time we try a fresh idea, we are taking a gamble, but by starting small, the consequences of our actions is potentially less costly. If things do not work out, the damage is small, even negligible. If the idea works, then there is a small success to celebrate and more importantly, to build on. Success breeds success (be mindful because success breeds complacency too) and with success comes confidence, confidence for trying bigger and fresher ideas.
Every time we embark on a new exploration, opportunities for learning are created. Whether it is a success or disappointment, there’s always a lesson to be learned. One thing is for certain, the more we expose ourselves to trying new ideas, the better we become. Overtime, the lessons and experiences accumulates and form a springboard that will allow us to bounce new ideas off easily. By starting modestly and at a gradual pace, we can build small wins upon small wins. As we grow, what develop within ourselves is not just the knowledge of working with novel ideas (able), but just as importantly, an attitude and liking for venturing into the unknown (willing). Consciously or subconsciously, these qualities are embedded into our ways of life and when the time comes for us to take ‘real’ risk, we will be better equipped and risk-taking might just seem easier.