Recently I was talking with an entrepreneurially twentysomething. He really wants to be an entrepreneur but a) doesn’t have enough money saved and b) doesn’t have a co-founder. At this point, it’s important to tease out if he wants to be an entrepreneur because startups are cool right now or if he really wants to be an entrepreneur because it’s who he is regardless of the timing.
Per the two things holding him back, he could easily be an entrepreneur by day and vallet by night to solve the money issue. As for the lack of a co-founder, it’s 100x easier to recruit a co-founder once the business is actually started and a prototype is in place (many people have a hard time visualizing things and are more easily convinced once they can see something). So, why isn’t he an entrepreneur now? I believe it has to do with being risk averse.
My favorite definition of risk comes from a recent Tim Ferriss post titled How to Say “No” When It Matters Most:
Risk – The likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome.
When people tell me I must love risk because I’m an entrepreneur I always respond that it feels less risky to me to be an entrepreneur. Why? I have a strong locus of control and want to own my destiny. As an entrepreneur, I’m ultimately responsible if we win or lose. That’s how I like it.
The next time someone says “that’s so risky”, ask them if there’s an irreversible component to the potential negative outcome. If the outcome is reversible, and has a reasonable chance of success, it’s likely less risky than perceived. If fact, most decisions and the resulting outcomes are reversible.
What else? What are some more thoughts on entrepreneurs and risk?