Game of Risk

Practice Your Peril

There is no right way to take a risk, contends Bette Price, co-author of True Leaders: How Exceptional CEOs and Presidents Make a Difference by Building People and Profits (Dearborn Trade Press). "Entrepreneurs are risk-prone in a variety of styles. Some will plunge forward into risk, and some will tip-toe into it cautiously. Neither approach is right or wrong." But if you tip-toe at a glacier's speed, you could be missing out on a great opportunity, acknowledges Price.

If you're still nervous about jumping off that proverbial cliff, you could always practice first in a way that won't necessarily affect your business. Kamfar did, when he was a 21-year-old spending a year in England between college and graduate school. He went fire-walking.

Feel like keeping your socks and shoes on? Then forego the fire-walking and instead sign up for flight training to better your business skills.

"One of the first things you had to do was sign a waiver acknowledging that you understood you might catch on fire and burn off a limb or die," says Kamfar, who describes walking on hot coals as "very liberating."

But you should never fire-walk-or take a giant risk when your company is at stake-if you're truly frightened. "If you're afraid to take a risk, that fear is trying to tell you something," says Kamfar.

That's because risk-taking is indeed something of an art form, and it requires practice. And the more successful you become, the more complicated it gets to take a risk. "Here's what I've lost, and it bugs me," says McFarlane. "When we were small and confined, I could self-indulge more. Now I have to put on the 'Todd, the CEO' hat and ask if what 'Todd, the artist,' likes is prudent for the well-being of the company? Sometimes, the answer is no."

GUT CHECK
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That may be something that gives you pause. Take an unnecessary chance, and your company could end up the size of a continent. Next, you'll be trying to decide how to market a comic book called Creech 2: Out for Blood, and you may lie awake at night, wondering what sort of lighting you should put on your $2.7 million baseball.

But isn't it worth the risk?


Every day, as a freelance journalist in Loveland, Ohio, Geoff Williams is risking his life in a world of danger and intrigue. Why, just last week, he dropped a stapler on his foot. "This office is a deathtrap," he says.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the April 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Game of Risk.

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