Many of the top women biotechnology entrepreneurs recommend being willing to take risks if you want to make it in this field. People vary with respect to their comfort level with risk-taking, which ranges from thrill-seeking (liking high intensity, unpredictability, novelty, and risk) at one extreme, to thrill-avoiding (predictable, low-key, and familiar) at the other extreme.1
Where do you stand with respect to your comfort with risk-taking? Answering questions on a validated risk-taking assessment can help you self-evaluate your comfort and see where you stand on this personality dimension in comparison to entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs.
Leslie’s answers to questions taken from the DOSPERT risk-taking assessment are described below. The questions cover social, recreational, and financial risk, which are the domains that correlate relatively strongly with entrepreneurship.
Risk-Taking Self Assessment
Case: Leslie Bowen, PhD, Part 2
Description: 41-year-old Leslie Bowen is an associate professor and neuroscientist with an idea for a product made using a novel approach to laboratory-grown neurons with potential clinical applications. She thinks it will be marketable.
Scenario, Part 2: In this scenario, Leslie self-evaluates her risk-taking tendencies by answering questions from the Domain Specific Entrepreneurial Risk-Taking scale (DOSPERT) (Blais & Weber, 2006).
For each statement, indicate the likelihood that you would engage in the described activity or behavior if you were to find yourself in that situation.
Leslie’s responses are marked with checkmarks.
|Admitting that your tastes are different from those of a friend. (S)|||
|Going camping in the wilderness. (R)|
|Betting a day’s income at the horse races. (F)|
|Investing 10% of your annual income in a moderate growth mutual fund. (F)|
|Disagreeing with an authority figure on a major issue. (S)|
|Betting a day’s income at a high-stakes poker game. (F)|
|Investing 5% of your annual income in a very speculative stock. (F)|
|Going whitewater rafting at high water in the spring. (R)|
|Betting a day’s income on the outcome of a sporting event (F)|
|Investing 10% of your annual income in a new business venture. (F)|
|Taking a skydiving class. (R)|
|Choosing a career that you truly enjoy over a more secure one. (S)|
|Speaking your mind about an unpopular issue in a meeting at work. (S)|
|Bungee jumping off a tall bridge. (R)|
|Piloting a small plane. (R)|
|Moving to a city far away from your extended family. (S)|
|Starting a new career in your mid-thirties. (S)|
Leslie’s Mean Scores for Each Domain of Risk-Taking and Interpretation:
Leslie’s mean scores are comparable to that of entrepreneurs for Social risk and Recreational risk. However, she scored lower than entrepreneurs on financial risk-taking:
- (S) Social risk: 5.5 – Somewhat to Moderately Likely
(Mean for entrepreneurs: 5.4)
- (R) Recreational risk: 3.8 – Slightly less likely than Not Sure
(Mean for entrepreneurs 3.8)
- (F) Financial risk: 2.5 – Moderately to Somewhat Unlikely
(Mean for entrepreneurs 3.5)
Key: Risk-Taking Likelihood Scale: 1 Extremely Unlikely 2 Moderately Unlikely 3 Somewhat Unlikely 4 Not Sure 5 Somewhat Likely 6 Moderately Likely 7 Extremely Likely
(Blais & Weber, 2006; Curry, 2014)
Discussion of Leslie’s DOSPERT (Risk-Taking Assessment) Results
Scenario: Laila Robinson, from the Technology Transfer Office, and Leslie have a follow-up video call after Laila reviews Leslie’s results:
Hello. Laila. I’m here to discuss my risk-taking profile and whether entrepreneurship is a good fit.
Hello. We can review your risk-taking profile and use it to look at some ways you can use your results to your benefit.
Your risk-taking survey results show that your likelihood of engaging in risk depends upon the type of risk. That’s true for most people. Your score for Social risk-taking is your strongest
Yes, I’m willing to speak up for things I feel are important, even if they are risky.
Great, because social risk-taking has the strongest correlation with entrepreneurial success! That is a strength you can use in promoting a business. You are similar in recreational risk-taking to entrepreneurs on average. However, your financial risk-taking was much lower than entrepreneurs on average. So, the financial aspects of entrepreneurship may feel risky for you.
I think that is true. If something goes wrong socially, I can recover. And I do all right in risky recreational pursuits. But if I lose my money, I won’t be able to meet my family’s basic needs. You hear about small businesses failing fairly often so the risk seems real. Often finances seem out of my control.
It’s good to get clear about where you stand with respect to each type of risk.
Does this mean I’m not cut out for entrepreneurship?
Not necessarily. As I said, there are ways to legally protect your personal finances. You might prefer options that involve less personal financial risk, such as selling your idea.
I don’t like the idea of letting someone else develop my idea either.
Based on your survey responses, you most want to avoid complete uncertainty of finances and need some feeling of control over them.
Yes, I feel uncomfortable when I can’t learn more about the potential outcome by researching it more. It feels too unsure, like a poker game or betting at the races.
We often see more risk when we don’t understand something or lack the skills needed. Your willingness to take financial risks may change as you learn more financial skills.
That is true. I guess what I need to consider is whether I am willing to spend time developing more financial skills or want to put that time and effort into my science work. And are the potential rewards worth it if I branch off into business?
One more thing to consider is that you don’t have to be good at everything to be an entrepreneur. You can form partnerships to complement your strengths, in your case, someone with financial skills.
That makes sense and makes the idea of entrepreneurship sound more like a possibility for me.