Do you need to be a Risk-Taker to be Successful in Business?

Last updated on July 5th, 2023 at 06:57 am

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The concept of risk is a fascinating one. The word itself is synonymous with danger, loss and even failure, and it is something that we are conditioned to be cautious of. Everything you learn as a child is designed to keep you away from it. But as you get older, and specifically as you look at getting into the business world, the idea of being “risk averse” is considered to be something of a failing in itself. This dichotomy is interesting; at some stage, risk goes from being something that you should avoid, to something that you should face with confidence.

The received wisdom is that if you want to be successful, you’re going to have to accept risk. That’s visible in so many areas; people picking out casinos at know that to have any hope of winning, they must risk losing. A sports team that wants to go from the middle of the pack to the top of the tree will be acutely aware that they’ll need to extend themselves and take the risks that come with that. And in business, the people who always get the big bucks are the ones who take the biggest risks. So is it necessary to be a risk-taker to be successful – and if so, why?

You can’t assess risk unless you expose yourself to it

One of the reasons that business owners who take risks tend to be more successful is that they understand risk better than anyone else. They’ve been to the point where to fail means to lose everything. They’ve faced risk, and they know when it’s too much – and also when it’s just enough. If you always take the safe choice, you’ll never know what you’re capable of because the moment you open yourself up to the possibility of failure, you’re also creating an avenue towards success. Smart risk-takers won’t take extreme risks, any more than the most cautious of people will. They’re able to judge how much risk is too much.

If you take risks, you’ll spend less time wondering

Most of us can look back at some moment in our life and think how things could have turned out differently had we “gone for it”. It might be something in our personal lives, it might be a professional opportunity, or anything else. But we’ll wonder if we might have been happier, richer or more fulfilled right now if we’d opened ourselves up to the possibility of failure or rejection. Both of those things sting, and it’s human to protect yourself. But you can’t protect yourself from the regret and recrimination that comes with passing up a chance at something great. Risk-taking entrepreneurs are more satisfied because they don’t have those questions.

No risk means no development

Imagine yourself as a professional sportsperson. You know you can run this fast, throw this far, pass the ball or shoot with accuracy over a certain distance. You don’t know whether you can manage to go a step further and make the riskier play. The only way you’re going to know is to try, and maybe that attempt will fail miserably and make you look stupid. But you’re not going to know unless you try. More importantly, if you fail you have a blueprint for what you need to do to succeed next time. Not every risk will come off, but every failure brings the possibility to learn and to eventually succeed – and that’s why risk is essential in business.

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