Leaders Manage Risks

Navigating Around PotHoles

A few years ago, I was invited to speak to a group of entrepreneurs about my business war stories. My background includes decades of leadership in technology and real estate. Most of the questions from the audience focused on those areas.

At one point an audience member asked, “What do you say to people who consider entrepreneurship to be risky?”

“It is risky,” I responded. And then I shared a story about potholes and steering wheels.

Potholes and Steering Wheels

Being an entrepreneur is a lot like driving a car down a street covered with potholes. Most people who see the street covered with potholes simply throw up their hands and exclaim “Oh no! potholes!” And they avoid the street altogether.

But something in the entrepreneurial DNA causes us to dig further. “Yes, the street has potholes,” observes the entrepreneur. “But I happen to know that there’s gold at the end of that street. If I can figure out a way to navigate the street in spite of the potholes, I can get the gold.”

The entrepreneur recalls that the car is equipped with a steering wheel. Sitting in the driver’s seat, the entrepreneur turns the wheel to avoid the potholes, navigates the street, and grabs the gold.

Yes, It’s Risky

The above story will never compete against the fables of Aesop! But it makes the point. As business leaders, our job is to manage risk. When everyone around us throws up their hands in fear, our job is to gather data, create a plan, and execute the plan to completion. Yes, it’s risky. And our job is to manage risks so that the team can achieve the goal.

Since successful entrepreneurs rarely work alone, everyone on the team wins when entrepreneurs achieve goals.

Congrats and well done to all the entrepreneurs who manage risks!