Taking the Calculated Risk

Entrepreneurs are by their nature a pretty risk-tolerant group. They have to be – setting off on their own to do something no one else has done, or at least that no one else has done in quite the same way, in the same place, that they are doing.

However, taking risks doesn’t have to be the same as being reckless. For most businesses, there is a logical set of steps in researching the market, the customer, the competition, in order to assess the level of risk, and manage it.

I often work with entrepreneurs, and one of the most common things I find is that serial entrepreneurs can be victims of their own success. What does that mean? Well, many entrepreneurs did well by doing one or two things right, and then getting extraordinarily lucky. They hit a market at the right time, with the right product or service, and in spite of doing little or no “traditional” business management, and bucking the models, they were successful. What do you learn from this? Well, many of them believe in the power of their own success, and that the models are useless and that they can succeed at anything based on the sheer power of their personality and acumen.

Surely you can see the flaw in this logic, but also why it is so seductive. It is not unusual for these successful people to go on to start one or more additional businesses – and fail. They take the lesson of success and continue to disdain traditional management, planning, strategy and organization. Occasionally they will again get lucky, but far more often I see them fail and wonder why the magic didn’t work again.

Those who overcome this learn that hard work and smart management of a company is a surer path to success than the force of personality or luck. They begin to do more research, and look at more data. They begin to track their failures and identify root causes. They begin to learn more about motivating people, creating great organizations, channel marketing, sales strategies, partnering, product development, and many other management topics. In other words, they evolve into great leaders and business people.

When you look at your business or group, are you using the best tools available to maximize your chances of success? Have you discarded management tools and theories because they aren’t perfect and others have succeeded without them? Do you have a coach or consultant helping you find the best out there and applying it to your business problems? Are you tapping into the creativity of your team to build on best practices and create new innovations in running a business, or are you repeating mistakes made by many others before you?

I invite you to look at how you are working and running your business and how you could build a sturdier foundation for the growth you can achieve.