Bill Gates on Big Risks Take smart leaps, get better results.

Revolutionary behind the home computer. Richest man in the world many times over. Superstar philanthropist.

Bill Gates is used to big titles, but they didn’t come without big risks. Being an entrepreneur in itself is a risky endeavour, but from a young age, Bill Gates has consistently made big moves to get what he wants.

While in high school, Gates wrote a class-scheduling program, which included tweaked code that ensured he would end up in classes with only female students.  In 1975, Gates contacted the creators of the new micro computer, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) and said a group of his was working on an interpreting program for their product.

This was a lie – Gates wanted to gauge the interest of the company and when the president agreed to a demo meeting, Gates and his business partner Paul Allen then developed the system. The meeting was a success.

Gates famously dropped out of college to start Microsoft and in 1993, told AOL,

“I can buy 20 percent of you or I can buy all of you. Or I can go into this business myself and bury you.”

It is this bold, ‘buy it or bury it,’ risk-taking personality that has made Gates the success he is.

From his book, Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System, Gates states:

“To be a market leader, you have to have big goals. You can’t just look at the past or the current state of the market. You also have to look at where it’s likely to go, and where it might go under certain circumstances, and then direct your company according to your best predictions.”

To win big, sometimes you have to take big risks. Big bets mean big failures as well as successes. Today, looking back, it’s easy to believe that Microsoft’s current success was inevitable. But at the time we made our big bets, including starting the company as the first personal computer software firm, most people thought we would fail.”

You always hear how beneficial it is to take risks; it’s been beaten into our heads as part of the “secret to success.” However, while most people want to be the person that encourages the risk-taking and hope they could do it themselves, they often won’t. Even more, they will often deter you with constant remarks on what could go wrong.

Like Bill Gates and many other entrepreneurs, people might tell you that you’ll fail. They might discourage you and it may be coming from a good place. They don’t want to see you in a potentially bad situation, but this is your life. If you have seriously weighed out a situation and believe the risk is necessary, then like Bill Gates, start that company, propose that “never been done” project to your boss. Take that step – whatever it may be.

In the words of another successful risk-taker, Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”


Image Credit: Flickr via Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. Modified for cropping/lighting.