th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

Know How to Take the Right Risks

Be bold. Be daring. Be out there. But first, be sure it's the right bet to take
By Jason Feifer |

How to Take the Right Risks

Nigel Parry

This story appears in the November 2017 issue of Entrepreneur.Subscribe »

 

 

I have this job because I took a risk in 2007.

 

I was a small-town newspaper reporter in Massachusetts then, writing about minor crimes and mayoral races, and the road ahead depressed me. That gig would only lead to a similar one at a slightly larger paper, in another random town. And then another. And another. What I really wanted was to be a magazine editor in a big city, a role nobody in the industry would consider me qualified for. So I startedpitching freelance stories to magazines, hoping to prove myself. Whenever one was accepted, I’d stay up late after my day job to meet the deadline. Eventually I got some steady work in Boston magazine, met some of the staff and saw that an editor was leaving and they’d be hiring a replacement. I wanted it to be me.

 

So I quit my newspaper job. I moved to Boston, renting an apartment far out of my budget. And I told the editor at Boston that I was ready to be hired. A few months later, that’s what happened. It was the risk that changed my career -- and, frankly, I don’t know where I’d be now if it hadn’t worked out.

 

Every entrepreneur has a story like this, if not many of them. When we take a risk, we separate ourselves from the safe and steady path. We shift more burden onto our shoulders -- willing to bet that some combination of skill and instinct will lead to greater rewards. In taking a risk to achieve a vision, we can change the rules and create lives of our own making. Risks don’t always work out, but they do always remind us of the vast possibilities awaiting us. And that’s why we at Entrepreneur created this month's issue, our first annual list celebrating 50 daring entrepreneurs who took inspiring risks within the past year. You’ll know some of their names; others will be new. All are motivating. We want to celebrate the many ways that people can go their own way. 

From the outset, this could seem reckless: Nobody should celebrate risk only for the sake of risk. In fact, just as we were closing the issue in September, The New York Times captured exactly that problem. Pharma-bro Martin Shkreli had just been sent to prison for violating the terms of his bail, and, to contextualize it, the paper explored research from two economists: They’d found that entrepreneurs are more likely than others to have broken the law in their teens and 20s. “The problem,” says the story, “is that the psychological forces that drive teenagers to break rules may not be so easily channeled later on.” As adults, the impulse can turn into careless business decisions.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

 

It’s an interesting theory, and a reminder of the difference between daring and dangerous. It’s healthy to think of ourselves as risk-takers, but what we should do is make bold, calculated decisions that look like risks. The truly smart risk isn’t made like a roulette bet; it’s in seeing an opportunity that others don’t, and summoning the courage to seize it. Consider this: Richard Branson, whom I spoke to for this issue, is famous for his line “Screw it, let’s do it” -- but he doesn’t bust that out every time someone pitches him. He considers the odds of success. He thinks big picture. He’s really saying, “This is a properly assessed risk; let’s do it.” It’s not as catchy, but it’s good logic.

 

So with this in mind, let me admit something about that personal story I told you above. When I tell it in public, I do so like a swashbuckler -- I just called up that magazine editor and told him to hire me! In reality, the editor and I had a series of conversations over many weeks while I still had my newspaper job. He hadn’t promised to hire me, but I could tell it was a possibility. So when I quit my job and moved to Boston, it wasn’t done recklessly. It was calculated. I wanted to show him I was serious. And it worked, just like the best risks do.

 

 

*****

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors

Latest Articles

What Opportunities are Investors from Other ASEAN Countries Seeing in the Philippines?

A look at the biggest projects registered by Southeast Asian firms with the gov't in the last 6...

byPauline Macaraeg | November 19, 2017 09:00:00

10 Commandments of Successfully Managing a Business Crisis

Commandment number one is beginning preparing before anything has gone wrong

byTor Constantino | November 19, 2017 08:00:00

Help Is on the Way! (for 5 Common Obstacles Every Entrepreneur Faces)

A little creative thinking can solve big problems

byThomas Smale | November 19, 2017 06:00:00

10 Ways You're Being Tracked Without You Knowing It

Everything we do online and with technology leaves a footprint

byNina Zipkin | November 19, 2017 02:00:00

How to Teach Your Daughter Girl Power, According to This Self-Made Billionaire

Teach these lessons to your girls so they can grow up to be strong, confident and happy

byKitty Elicay for SmartParenting.com.ph | November 19, 2017 00:00:00

How Much Does it Cost to Review for the Bar Exams in the Philippines?

The fees vary but are roughly equivalent to new college graduates’ average starting monthly salary

byElyssa Christine Lopez | November 18, 2017 09:00:00

The 3 Types of People at Work Who Waste Your Time and How to Deal With Them

Do any of these time suckers work at your company? Here's how you can avoid them

byDan S. Kennedy | November 18, 2017 08:00:00

by |

5 Big Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Just Keep Making

The reality of running a high-growth startup is that the company is your boss

byDeep Patel | November 18, 2017 06:00:00

Entrepreneurs Aren't Risk-Seekers -- They Just Handle Risk Better

Managing risk is in entrepreneurs' DNA

byJohn Suh | November 18, 2017 02:00:00

Billionaires Are Teaching Their Kids Mandarin and You Probably Should, Too

There's a reason Mark Zuckerberg learned Mandarin

byYsa Singson for Cosmo.ph | November 18, 2017 00:00:00

Hershey Hilado, Homeless Ilongga Turned Aussie Millionaire, Topbills Speakers at Nov. 18 Entrepreneurship Conference

Event in Miriam College Quezon City is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration in the...

byPauline Macaraeg | November 17, 2017 10:00:00