I ran a poll on Twitter over three days and got 57 votes. The question was what trait is most important to be an entrepreneur and the choices I gave were:
- Sense of Adventure
- Willingness to Take Risk
- Self Awareness
I call the first three the entrepreneur’s trifecta because I believe that the combination of those three traits are the key to success as an entrepreneur. The fourth option, self awareness, while important, isn’t necessary and as I pointed out in this post, could even hold someone back.
The results of the poll, while not surprising, show a common misconception people have about business.
It’s common to think that entrepreneurs take huge risks that pay off because they were willing to do what most others weren’t willing to do, but only half that sentence is true. They are willing to do what most others aren’t but they work hard to minimize risk, to manage risk so that it’s not risky.
In my book What Next, I interviewed a young serial entrepreneur, Scott Loughmiller, and when risk came up as a topic, he said, “I guess I see myself as a risk manager.” Managing risk, working, thinking, planning to reduce the amount of risk is what separates entrepreneurs from gamblers. Richard Branson in his latest autobiography, Finding My Virginity, says, “I am always willing to take risks, but they have to be calculated, not reckless.” (emphasis mine)
Again the willingness to take risk is just a part of the equation, as Scott Loughmiller, said in What Next, “I think most people are poor at estimating the risk side. They see massive risk where there is only moderate, and no risk where there is a significant amount.”
So while 60% of the respondents chose a willingness to take risk, it is really the outsider who sees risk, the entrepreneur sees opportunity, and knows how to manage the situation so that risk is minimized.
In my next post, find out why the only choice not chosen by anybody deserves more respect, and why adventure plays such a big role in entrepreneur’s lives.