I was recently listening to a podcast interview with Colin Follenweider, one of the top stunt professionals in Hollywood who has been in many blockbuster movies (Spiderman, Transformers, Iron Man, X Men). As I listened to Colin talk about his experience, it occurred to me that start-ups and entrepreneurs have a lot in common with stunt people.
Think about it – if you are a big budget movie producer and you have a superstar actor in your film (think Daniel Craig in the James Bond 007 Movies) and you want to show him performing a death-defying escape in the movie, do you have him do the stunt himself and risk serious injury, delays or liability that would compromise whole movie enterprise? No way! You hire a professional stunt double, who is willing to stand in for the actor and perform the riskier moves that the movie star is not willing or able to do.
That’s exactly what entrepreneurs do – we stand in for the bigger companies to take calculated risks! Imagine a big company CEO who knows she needs to make some bold moves to get ahead of her competition, but she also knows that the bigger the company, the more risk adverse it tends to be. So what’s a CEO to do? She goes out and acquires a risk-taking start-up or budding entrepreneurial company and bolts that company on to her own to drive growth. This model has proven successful in many a high-growth industry, ranging from IT to biotechnology, creating significant value for shareholders in larger companies and venture investors in smaller entrepreneurial ones.
It should be noted that qualified stunt people, because they perform a valuable service for their industry, are well paid for their skills and able to carve out a nice niche for themselves. But if the compensation is not commensurate with the risks they take, those professionals would quickly take their talents and abilities elsewhere. Similarly, if start-ups and entrepreneurs are not duly compensated for the disproportionate risks they take, these entrepreneurs will take their skills and interests to industries that value their contributions.
The management guru Peter Drucker wrote, “innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service.” Are you an industry insider or company leader seeking to drive innovation or growth? If so, I encourage you to go out and find some risk-taking entrepreneurs and invest in them!