Don’t bite off more than you can chew

By Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar

Published: Thu 8 Sep 2022, 11:26 AM

No risk no reward is on principle that is often quoted in the world of business. While it is true to some degree, but not entirely. Instead, I like the proverb ‘Don’t bite off more than you can chew’. I always prefer to take calculated or limited risks. Except at the beginning of my career, I have never failed in business nor suffered a loss. The credit for that goes to me following the wisdom of taking calculated risks.

I realised the importance of taking limited risks very early in my life. My father, in his retirement age, came up with the idea of setting up a grocery shop in Dubai. He saw a business opportunity and impulsively implemented his idea. He invested his entire savings as seed capital. He didn’t anticipate the future risks associated with the business. Later, when our business suffered a massive loss in the very first year, he realised his mistake. Since my father was left with zero savings, he had to borrow money from friends, sell my mother’s entire jewellery and even the furniture in our house to raise fresh capital. I had joined him as an intern in our shop. To cover the losses, we both had to adopt a frugal lifestyle and work hard for the next four years. When my father realised his mistake, he learned from his mistakes and advised me: “Son, we are both novices in business. I should have taken a limited risk. Learn from my mistakes and in the future, never put your entire savings at stake.”

I have followed his advice faithfully. I applied the principle of limited risk to expand my business. I never made a deal outside my capacity. I never took huge loans from private lenders to expand my chain of super stores. Instead, I waited patiently a couple of years to save adequate capital for every new store. In my business, I adhered to cost control and calculated risk. We ensured every deal to yield a marginal profit. This resulted in keeping our business always above water. Let me quote an example of one of my school friends. He had a wish to start a business based on an idea he conceived. From the beginning, he insisted on having his own office and showroom. He took loans from everyone. Unfortunately, his product didn’t stand in the market very well, and he suffered a huge loss. The bank attached and auctioned his properties, which had been mortgaged for loan. Some private lenders began sending recovery agents to his home regularly. Not only him, but his family too had to lose their dignity in the neighbourhood. Had my friend taken a calculated risk, he would not have had suffered such humiliation. At last, his parents sold their ancestral land and made him debt-free.

Let me give my entrepreneurial friends an advice based on my experience; ‘Do step in business, not blindly, but with a calculated risk’.

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading.

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