There is a long held belief that successful entrepreneurs are high risk takers. In fact, the common lore says, “not only do they take more risks, they are successful because of it.”

Over the last 15 years I have worked with over a hundred entrepreneurs, first as a business advisor and then as a Vistage Chair. My experience tells me otherwise.

Here’s what I observe:

  • Successful entrepreneurs follow the same practices the Great by Choice CEOs follow in Jim Collins’ book.
  • They have a clear vision of where they are headed.
  • They hire top talent and their employees understand their vision.
  • They invest in opportunities that support their vision.
  • They only invest in opportunities they understand, and where they have experience or vision, that gives them reason to expect the return they are seeking.

Finally, successful entrepreneurs have an instinctive sense of timing. It is this instinct, coupled with the discipline outlined above, that sets successful entrepreneurs apart.

Perhaps to the outsider who doesn’t see what the entrepreneur sees, it is this instinct that appears as taking high risk.


Elisa K. Spain


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