What can business learn from the world of gambling?

Of course the first, and most obvious, answer to the question is how it can become a global success with an annual revenue predicted to hit $565 billion by 2022. But, on a more realistic level, there are a number of lessons in the way gamblers behave and succeed that are readily transferable for business.

This is because the parallels between business and the world of gambling are many and varied but they all start with having an entrepreneurial outlook. So here, in no particular order, are eight lessons that can be taken on board to make your business that little bit better.

gambling business worldStart small

While there’s always a temptation to launch into any enterprise fired by ambition and with all guns blazing, it’s always going to pay to build things up gradually. In gambling this is a question of starting with smaller stakes and gradually increasing them as success starts to build. This makes for a firmer foundation which is going to be essential for long-term success, something every business needs to aim for.

Know when to hold, and when to fold

Business and decision-making go hand in hand and, in a gambling game like poker, players are making important decisions constantly. Depending on how wisely the conclusions are arrived at has a major bearing on the outcome. But any moves should always be made based on the available evidence and it’s equally important to be prepared to walk away when it looks like the outcome’s not going to be in your favour. Conversely, opportunities are there to be seized.

Stick to what you’re best at

The most successful gamblers are the ones that that take the time to learn their chosen games inside out and who then focus on playing them to the best of their abilities. So when someone has spent many hours painstakingly learning how to play roulette and becoming familiar with all the betting variations, they generally find it pays to concentrate on this rather than the trying to become expert blackjack players too. This unerring focus is just as important in business. Yes, you can diversify, but your core specialism should remain the same.

Take calculated risks

Nothing is ever certain in gambling, or in business. But by gathering all the available information it’s possible to start calculating the likelihood of particular outcomes occurring. While it would be good never to have to make a leap of faith, sometimes it’s inevitable. In these situations, having at least some justification for the actions can reduce the dangers that it might be the wrong choice. It’s also a valuable learning experience for the next time a similar situation occurs.

Sometimes in business you need to take risks to see some of the biggest rewards just like in the gambling world.

Cashflow is king

In gambling it’s known as your bankroll, in business it’s your cashflow. In both instances, keeping a tight control of it is essential. In gambling there is always the temptation to mix winnings with stake money and continue to play with it. But the shrewder player keeps these completely separate, ensuring that there are reserves of cash for when times are lean, but that there’s also money available when it’s needed. Keeping this kind of tight grip on finances is also an essential in business.

Know your competition

While many gambling games are played against the house, in some you are directly pitted against others with poker being a prime example. Therefore, it’s vital to learn as much as you can about your opponents, or competitors if we put it in a business context. Their style of behaviour, usual habits, even little tells or clues that can give an indication of what is really going on are all there to be discovered. The flipside, of course, is giving away as little as possible about your own motivations and intentions.

Never lose sight of your original objective

Many businesses start with a singular aim. But, as time goes on, the principals running it can lose sight of what this was. In gambling players are often advised to set a goal of a particular amount they aim to win in a given session and to quit once it’s been attained. It’s this kind of laser-like focus that businesses need to maintain if their efforts aren’t to become too diluted and with uncertain goals.

Sometimes it’s best to just walk away

It can be tough, in business and in gambling, to admit defeat. But there are always going to be times when a deal has started to go wrong, or you find yourself on a losing streak and it’s simply best to drop everything and graciously withdraw. Yes, it’s a tough call to make. But it’s generally going to be for the best in the long run.

Of course, there are many more parallels between the business and gambling world that apply but one that is more important than most is having a positive attitude. Because, being in the right frame of mind means you’re already more than one step ahead.