Entrepreneurs are self-motivated and self-confident individuals, but young entrepreneurs may still lack some of the real-world risk tolerance that gives seasoned entrepreneurs an edge.
At the University of Missouri, the Entrepreneurship Alliance (EA) — an initiative designed to foster a culture of innovation — pushes students to close the gap between young entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial veterans.
The EA has developed a five techniques that can help increase your entrepreneurial risk tolerance, including physical challenges, travel, face-to-face communication practice, financial bootstrapping, and developing mentors and supporters.
1. Physical Challenges
Physical challenges serve to push young entrepreneurs beyond their comfort zones. If you rarely challenge yourself, climbing an alpine tower can yield an amazing transformation. The physical task of climbing a tower pushes you to develop a vital talent set: assessing risk, setting and accomplishing goals, and communicating clearly in person. These are skills that can’t be learned in a textbook and need to be practiced.
Furthermore, physical challenges expose people’s biggest fears: heights, unsteady ground, deep water, relying on a partner for safety. Confronting these most basic of human fears boosts your belief in your ability to face the more mundane fears associated with raising capital, pitching to investors, and encountering difficult clients.
Real-life application of risk management skills can also be accomplished through travel. Travel offers a unique chance to challenge your comfort zone. Going to a place where you don’t speak the language, let alone blend in, shocks your system. You have to communicate in a new way, and you’re forced to transition from being overwhelmed to being curious. You learn that you don’t know nearly as much as you thought you did.
Never be a tourist; immerse yourself in the local culture. Business relies heavily upon your ability to read the market and your audience; the basis of entrepreneurship is the ability to see opportunities and pursue them. Travel provides a chance to discover new opportunities and assess reasonable risks in new environments.