Do you need to be a gambler to be an entrepreneur?

office workers

Setting up any business carries with it an element of risk. Any good business guide will offer you advice on the risk/reward calculation for the business you want to found.

But you shouldn’t run too far with the idea that small businesspeople are gamblers?

It’s not an unattractive proposition. Culturally gamblers are often presented in a positive light: the hero of a film is always the poker player, never the guy who set up the casino and who runs it responsibly, to budget, and with the welfare of his employees at heart. 

On the spin of a wheel

Gambling has complex psychological roots, and in fact the reality of gambling is very often a million miles from the glamorous picture of our movie poker player, driven by dark compulsions and ending in a very bad place. 

Gambling can also be a healthy pastime. 

And it’s closer to the latter that the good entrepreneur should aim to be. 

That’s because a good gambler is very much like a good businessperson: they do their research before diving into the online video slots say. They also know their way around the game they choose. They know the rules, the bonuses, the pitfalls, and the shortcuts.

And they’re accepting of the risk that they’re about to take, and jump in with full knowledge of the possible consequences of losing, knowing that what they get out of the experience – be it a win, or an enjoyable game – is worth it. 

What type of gambler are you? 

This is exactly how the successful small businessperson should approach the undoubted risk of setting up a new business. 

Know the possibilities of failure and do everything in your power to avoid them or to mitigate their impact. 

So if you’re the sort of gambler who’ll chuck everything she has in her purse on a single number bet on the roulette wheel, then perhaps you need to rein in your risk taking personality traits as you think about setting up a business. 

If instead you are likely to work out the odds of all the possible bets, set a budget for your evening’s gambling, make a plan to make the most of your cash by setting low stakes bets that are likely to offer the best value, and plan to take regular breaks so you never chase losses, then you’re probably just the right sort of gambler to set up in business. 

Enjoyment is key 

The good gambler – and the good businessperson – is aware of risk and willing to embrace it. They are realistic about their chances of success and unwilling to take risks that offer no possible reward. While a host of popular cultural tropes – from Hollywood to Dragons Den – portrays entrepreneurship as a series of high-stakes gambles, the reality is far less exciting in the short term, but far more rewarding in the long term. 

The successful gambler knows that the truth of gambling is that it is best approached as an entertainment than as a way of making a living. The most successful businessperson is aware that almost the opposite is true and prioritises returns over pleasure.