Starting a Business is Not for the Weak of Heart

Risk, as uncomfortable as it can be, becomes an ever present companion to the new business owner. The instance in which the risk involved in running a startup is slight and not stressful for the entrepreneur would have to be very rare. Without risk there are few rewards, as they say, so day after day people step onto the battle field unaware if they are truly ready to take on the demands and if they will live to fight another day.

There is truly no way to avoid risk I’ve decided. Trends can change overnight making loyal customers turn their backs to the overflowing inventory that is being developed that will end up sitting on back shelves. One customer can claim fault in a product or service and a journalist can find the story intriguing, give it a catchy title, and the story goes viral damaging the reputation of the business owner was not the one at fault. An employee can take action that will put the business in a public relations nightmare or cause a financial downfall that will take years to recover from putting the entire operation’s future in question.

Then there is the risk involved in another competitor getting to market quicker, snatching up a better location, or hiring away your employees. There are risks every day within every industry that are created by competitors, consumers, and emerging trends and technology. It’s hard to see the hits coming, let alone react quick enough, or know which response is the best tactic to choose to achieve a successful outcome.

Then there are the obvious risks involved such as financial ones, health, relationships, and possible loss of personal assets. If the entrepreneur must break off professional relationships to branch off on their own, there is the risk of never being able to repair the connection. There are risks that are unseen such as simply overlooking the “term of use” or “privacy statement” sections missing from the company website, or choosing to copy a competitors use of service contract or waiver only to find out that the one you adopted was never sound enough to protect you in court.

Then there is the biggest risk of all — failure. It is the one that business owners face every day and no matter how well we might be doing, it lurks in the corner of our minds reminding us it is always a possibility.

Someone starting a new business may go in head first totally oblivious to the risks they will encounter and do well because their passion overrides their fear of risk. Others step lightly and are ever aware of the risks and choose to move slow and calculated in an effort to lessen their exposure to risk. You don’t have to be the kind of person that would find it exhilarating to jump out of an airplane with a piece of fabric tied to your back to save you from crashing to the ground to be a small business owner. Risk shouldn’t keep you from entering the game; you simply must accept risk is a part of being a business owner.

There will be risks, most likely more than you ever expected. The risks don’t go away; they actually exponentially grow with the business. It’s just a part of the territory.

This article was triggered by someone saying, “It’s just such a big risk” in reference to their considering a new business venture.

I thought to myself, “Yes, it is.” I didn’t want to discourage them, because risk really doesn’t have to be some scary monster hiding in the corner waiting to pounce. I didn’t want to falsely mislead them either, because risk is not something to take lightly, especially when it comes to a startup.

Before I could respond, the person remarked, “It’s just not worth it to me to take such a big risk.”

Maybe they will change their mind, maybe it is more of a risk for them than they are willing to stare down every day. It’s up to them to decide.

I did offer this piece of advice for them to ponder, “Risk can be bad, it can also be exhilarating to face head on and come out on the other side in a better and more exciting place. You can do a few things to lessen the impact of facing down risk on a daily basis: set goals, stay focused, make smart decisions, seek out experts, it’s better to invest in the best than make mistakes by going cheap, take leadership roles versus dictator roles with employees, remember it’s always about the customer and never about you, and to enjoy the journey. It’s true you’ll face obstacles with major risk involved, you just have to turn your fear into energy that moves you forward.”

It’s worked for me.