Taking Risks

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As an entrepreneur you take risks. And when you read about successful entrepreneurs, most of the times you are reading their history of taking risks.

I have thought long and hard, and read about the stories of successful companies and a couple of things always stand out:
  1. The founder took many risks. Big risks.
  2. They positioned themselves for the future. They kept aiming for where the ball will be next and not where it currently is.
  3. They poured themselves into their work. Their high risk work.
My most inspiring example is Microsoft. Partly because they gave me an MVP award and I also live off Microsoft Excel. But I also have a lot of sound reasons for finding them a great inspiration.

Microsoft started in 1975 simply as two very young guys' obsession with programming and taking up challenging projects. It didn't start in a way you would expect a company its current size to start. Bill and Allen loved programming; kept getting more programming gigs than they could combine with schooling. If you did a market survey then, you would find nothing amazing about their company. It was just like every other built-out-of-a-hobby business. The kind of business people do because they enjoy it and just want to make a simple living doing it; not because they saw a billion dollar future in it.

Then in 1980, they landed a big contract with IBM to build programs for some of their devices. The entire PC and software industry was small. MBA powered guys and investors were not flocking to it; they saw no exciting future in it. But Microsoft kept growing as the industry grew. They stayed when nothing exciting was happening and reaped huge benefits when the whole world wanted a PC.

They were risk takers. They chose a field of work that wasn't exciting and built a company no one really considered competing with because they never saw a big future in that line of business. Yet they not only stuck to it but quit school for it.

They made sure they were at the forefront of the OS programming field. They saw a future (even if not as great as they finally encountered) and they kept pushing themselves towards where the ball would be. They were so good and dedicated at what they do that getting the few OS programming projects that existed then wasn't hard. They were perfectly positioned to harvest the growth in that field. 

Finally, they poured themselves into their work. They didn't do it part-time or mix some more promising business with it. They didn't also turn it into a conglomerate or Microsoft Group. 

So now when you see Microsoft and think Bill Gates is a super rich genius. Also don't miss the part of his taking risks. It wasn't his ingenuity that birth Microsoft or grew it into one of the world's largest companies. It was his sticking to it and building all throughout those years only geeks knew what a computer is and only the super rich geek could afford one. 

Behind all the world's most successful companies are a lot of risk taking entrepreneurs. And if you want to get ahead well in life, you must be comfortable with taking lots of risks.


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