Risks are educational

Sami Inkinen, 35, is not averse to risk or afraid to try new things. After receiving a Master’s degree in engineering physics, he has found time to establish and sell one company, complete an MBA at Stanford University and then launch another business with a classmate.

Article on risk-taking. Photo: David Butow.

The firm the pair set up is Trulia, a real estate portal that now employs more than 320 people in the USA. “I consciously seek out risk. Unlike proponents of portfolio theory, I believe that placing all of your eggs in one basket enables considerable success,” Sami Inkinen says. “Entrepreneurship and success cannot exist without risk. In business, resources and many external factors are not always stable, making creativity and an appetite for risk-taking essential to success.”

But how much of success in business is down to diligent groundwork and what portion emerges from the boldness to leap into the unknown? “I believe that a company, which wants to succeed and outgrow its rivals, absolutely has to plunge into the unknown on almost a daily basis. Many think that great success is the result of meticulous planning or individual revolutionary ideas, but, in reality, many success stories are shaped from modest ideas through dozens or even hundreds of alterations.”

He does not, however, urge anyone to risk their entire career, profession or fortune on one roll of the die, even though he thinks that calling the familiar into question can provide fresh insights and generate new ideas.

Take a chance today! Four theses on risk-taking by Sami Inkinen

1. Successful products, ideas and firms are often preceded by 10–100 failed efforts and ideas. Don’t give up after experiment one, change something and try again.

2. Perfectionism is the opposite of risk-taking – allow yourself to fail often.

3. Take a small chance every day – try something new at work, in your relationship or hobby.

4. If risk-taking scares you, ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen if a risk is realised? Write it down and weigh whether it is in fact a risk or just an opportunity in disguise.

The original text is published in Finnish in Aalto University Magazine 01. Text by Tiina Jakobsson. Edited in English by Ned Coogan.