A new survey of business people from different industry sectors and pay grades suggests a strong link between risk taking and business success. The research, commissioned by telephone answering service, Moneypenny, showed that 50% of Senior Executives and those in Upper Management and 48% of self-employed have participated in extreme sports, compared with just 20% of manual labourers and 31% of office and admin staff who have done so.

While an average of 33% of those surveyed admitted participating in extreme sports, surprisingly their perception of themselves as risk takers was different, as when asked to rate themselves on a risk scale of 1-10 with 10 being most likely to take risks, 58% rated their risk taking as 6 or above.

The survey showed that men are much more likely to indulge in extreme sports than women: among small business owners and self-employed, 78% of men have participated in extreme sports, compared with just 25% of women. Similarly, among middle management and executives, 68% of men have experienced extreme sports, compared with 18% of women who have participated.

Commenting on the survey results, Ed Reeves, director and co-founder of Moneypenny, said: "As a keen windsurfer, I was really pleased to see that so many business people have participated in extreme sports, but I was particularly interested to see a possible link between physical risk taking and business success ."I think that if you are the type of person who enjoys the thrill of a risky physical activity, despite the dangers, then you are more likely to thrive in the high pressure atmosphere that you get in the higher levels of business, especially if you are running your own business."

The survey also revealed varying propensity to take physical risks across the regions, with the Welsh being least likely to have participated in extreme sports (15%) compared with 46% of those in the West Midlands, 43% of those in Greater London and 43% of those in the South West.

The five most popular extreme sports experienced by those surveyed are Sky diving (28%), Surfing (14%), Gliding (11%), Bungee jumping (8%) and Abseiling (7%). The most popular reasons given for participating are for a thrill or adventure (cited by 26%) and for fun and excitement (cited by 25%). Interestingly, when asked for the reasons for not participating in extreme sports, 50% of those surveyed said they were worried about the risks of physical injury and were afraid. Sadly 15% feared they are just too old for extreme sports.

Ed added: "In my early days windsurfing I used to catch every wave possible. It was frenetic, extremely tiring and frustrating. I learnt that success was about choosing only the best waves for me and giving them absolutely everything. That's how we handle projects at Moneypenny and I think anyone in business can apply the same principles: choose your moment to start a project, select each one carefully and then give it everything you've got."