Learning About Risks in Entrepreneurship at Talk the Walks


Entrepreneurship. A word often tossed around. But in essence, what does it really mean? Well, we were at the 9th session of Talk the Walks hosted by Anura De Alwis. Intrigued after the previous session of Talk the Walks, we were curious on as to how this session would proceed. The speakers for this session of Talk the Walks was Dilith Jayaweera and Sivakrishnarajah Renganathan.

How to build a successful brand

Talk the walks risks
You need passion and a plan to build a successful brand (Image Credits: Champ Internet)

This was the first question asked by a member of the audience at the 9th session of Talk the Walks. Dilith explained that you first need to have a passion to build a brand. The next thing is to have a clear vision of where you want to place yourself. This was what Renganathan explained. So, in essence, you both a passion and a plan.

Building a brand also involves some risks

With anything that you do, there are risks involved. In the case of Renganathan, he took a risk by joining Commercial Bank while waiting for his O/L results. 37 years later, he is now the Managing Director/CEO of Commercial Bank. So why stay in the organization for that long despite bigger and possibly better opportunities waiting for him? “It was the happiness and the culture that the bank had”, Renganathan explained. It was also about handling the challenges and new opportunities that he faced, he added.

Talk the Walks Risks
You can’t build a brand without taking a little risk. (Image Credits: inwebo)

In the case of Dilith, he was a lawyer by profession. From a number of small jobs, Dilith set up Triad Advertising. All of these were a part of his risk-taking habit, he explained. In case you didn’t know, Triad Advertising is currently one of the largest advertising agencies in Sri Lanka.

The agency was responsible for a number of high-profile advertisement campaigns. From there, Dilith also set up a printing press which is among approximately 40 subsidiaries of Triad Advertising. “I did it for the happiness of risk-taking”, Dilith explained.

Planning vs going with your gut feeling

As an example of planning, Renganathan shared a story of a three-wheel driver who came to pull out the cash from his child’s savings account. The driver was using a three-wheeler that his father had purchased which needed to be returned.

As such, the driver needed the cash to buy his own three-wheeler. Renganathan took a risk and lent the driver Rs. 120,000/- which in 1994 was the value of a new three-wheeler. He emphasized that the driver should purchase a new three-wheeler and not a second-hand one as the cost to maintain it would be higher.

Talk the Walks Risks
Renganathan was approached by a person who wanted to clear out his child’s savings account in order to buy a three-wheeler (Image shown is not that person) (Image Credits: Sri Lanka Mirror)

Within 18 months, the driver paid back the full amount that Renganathan had lent him. But that wasn’t all. The driver approached Renganathan with an interest in purchasing a bus. This has a number of risks that running a three-wheeler doesn’t. For example, you need to plan what route the bus would take and then obtain the necessary licenses.

While everything seemed to be well and good, unfortunately, the driver was stabbed 8 months later and had to call it quits for running a bus. This, Renganathan explained is why when we take risks, we should also plan ourselves to see if we can manage what we start.

Trusting your Gut

While Renganathan was all about planning each step and creating a strategy for it, Dilith feels the opposite. For him, it’s all about taking risks and doing things at the spur of the moment. “It’s all about enjoying what you do and preparing to face the consequences of your actions”, he explained.

From setting up small print jobs to carrying out hugely popular and successful political campaigns, Dilith experimented with a number of tasks. He emphasized that money is not their primary business. They are in the field of creativity. When you think of money, you can’t think out of the box. When you think of money, nothing comes to your mind. However, when you don’t think of money, everything comes to your mind.

As an organization Triad Advertising has carried out a number of political campaigns. Dilith emphasized that these were done strictly by the book with no form of bribery involved at any point.

Challenges can come in different ways

Some may be expected, and some may be unexpected. The key is to always be prepared to face whatever comes your way, explained Renganathan. He spoke about a fire that his friend was a victim of. At the time, he didn’t have an exact plan if something like this happened. However, he improvised and acted. In short, unknown challenges will come in life. These will require you to be ready for them. You will also encounter unknown or unexpected encounters in your plans. You need to be ready for those as well.

That wrapped up Talk the Walks #9

Risk is the primary thing for an entrepreneur. You can either plan for risk or go with your gut feeling and take an opportunity risk. In the case of both Dilith and Renganathan, they both reacted to risk in one of these two methods. In short, every entrepreneur will have to take risks. But they can choose whether to plan for the risk or take it as it comes.

Learning About Risks in Entrepreneurship at Talk the Walks 3
Sivakrishnarajah Renganathan, Anura De Alwis and Dilith Jayaweera at the 9th session of Talk the Walks

In addition, you must also have passion in whatever you do. Added to that, you also need teammates who can help you out. There will be times when you fail. But the key thing is to get over it and learn from both your mistakes and others mistakes as well.


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