Of Risk and the Entrepreneur

What is risk? That question was posed by a professor to sixty MBA students who were executives of public corporations.

Is it risky to be an entrepreneur?

I was reviewing my notes from the book, The Millionaire Next Door this week, and transferring them to digital format. My copy of the book is so old, I think Gutenberg himself printed it. E-readers were a fantasy when this gem came out. And yet, the book is still relevant today.

In the book, when the professor asked that question,

One student replied: Being an entrepreneur?

His fellow students agreed. Then the professor answered his own question with a quote from an entrepreneur:

What is risk? Having one source of income. Employees are at risk…They have a single source of income. What about the entrepreneur who sells janitorial services to your employers? He has hundreds and hundreds of customers…hundreds and hundreds of sources of income.

I was asked a similar question recently at dinner with some new friends. When I mentioned that I went out on my own almost two years ago, one man replied, “Wow. That must have been scary and risky.”

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Scary and risky? Far from it. I told him that becoming an entrepreneur was the least risky thing I have ever done in my life.

I went from having one income to multiple incomes. I went from the constant threat of a company selling and my family getting left in the cold to no such fear at all.

As an entrepreneur, the loss of a single client is an inconvenience, not a catastrophe (assuming you’ve built your business right). The loss of your sole employer, however, is often catastrophic.

This is not to say that you must drop everything and become an entrepreneur tomorrow. But, if risk and fear are holding you back, consider the idea that entrepreneurship is the employment equivalent of investment diversification. Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, you spread the love…and the risk.

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own business?

Have you dreamed of changing the world with your product?

Has fear or perceived risk held you back?

What else has held you back?

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