(originally published in Screen Magazine 3/28/12)
I’m always disappointed when I only have one team left in the Final Four of my March Madness pool. I don’t follow college basketball, I spent all of five minutes filling out my bracket, and I didn’t have any money riding on the outcome. So why am I disappointed? Can it be because I’m an entrepreneur? In my opinion, the desire to make good decisions is what fuels an entrepreneur. There are plenty of opportunities to make good decisions when you gamble, and even more when you own a business. So is being a gambler in an entrepreneur’s DNA?
I consider myself a casual gambler at best. I play poker with my buddies every once and a while, I’ll stop by the casino if I have time, and Las Vegas seems to be in my cards every 5 years or so. I also consider myself a casual entrepreneur. I’ve started a few businesses, invested in real estate, and don’t shy away from new venture conversations. If you think the risk associated with either scenario is not the same, think again. I’ll invest $150,000 of annual salary to a staff position if I feel it’s a safe bet that this person will be responsible for $750,000 in additional revenue. I’ll also double down my bet if dealt an eleven when playing blackjack.
What are the risks and what are the rewards? These are questions that business owners ask themselves daily. They’re also the same questions that gamblers (professional or novice) ask themselves constantly. So yes, I think there is a little gambler in every entrepreneur. So if you’re thinking about starting your own business and want to know if you have what it takes to be successful, stop by a casino and play a few hands of blackjack. The amount of money you risk is not important. Believe it or not, winning is not important. Being confident in your decision-making skills is important. Confidence is what can make or break an entrepreneur.