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Is Becoming an Entrepreneur Really That Risky?

When talking about leadership, one point I try to stress is that it’s a leader’s job not only to lead people and projects but also to look around corners and spot trends. Leaders need to tackle what’s happening now, anticipate what will happen in the future and make sure those resources are aligned. As a result of this discussion, I have received tremendous feedback, including several questions about leadership, entrepreneurship, trend spotting, and how to look around corners. 

One interesting question was about trend spotting, as it relates to someone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur for the first time–“After a thirty-year career in business, I’m thinking about taking the entrepreneurial leap. I’m very concerned about the risk at this stage in my career and the uncertainty. Are there any economic trends I should be aware of before I take the leap?”—For the record, I don’t know this individual, their background or what business they want to take the leap to, so I can’t get very specific on an answer.  However, that question got me thinking about the uncertainty and risks involved in becoming an entrepreneur and what are some of the trends one should consider before taking the leap.

I want to challenge this thought right out of the gate. In this economy, is becoming an entrepreneur really that risky?  Think about it.  One of the things that prompted me to respond to this individual’s question is that English is a living language and words tend to take on different meanings.  Words that meant one thing 10, 20 or 100 years ago can mean something completely different today.  New words have emerged like “blog”, “tweet” and “app.” There was a time when “tweet” to me was Tweety Bird!  Ten years ago those words didn’t even exist.

The words and communications of the living English language are meant to paint a picture and derive an emotion for certain things.  What I want you to grasp is that 10 years ago entrepreneurship may have meant “risk-taker” or “someone willing to take the leap.”  However, I would challenge that the word had a meaning then that may no longer be true. Is being an entrepreneur today really that risky? I might argue otherwise.  In some cases, leveraging your thirty years of experience as an entrepreneur could be the least risky thing you can do!

According to an interview in USA Today, 23 out of 27 prominent economists believe the unemployment rate will return to 5% by the end of 2015.  However, most of them think it will be at 6% at least until the year 2020.  That is a long time if you are searching for a new position or are currently unemployed and looking for a job. Pick an age, whether you are 50, 52, or 55. Eight years from now is a long time to be sitting on the sidelines. So, is being an entrepreneur really that risky?

Next time, I would like to dive deeper into this topic and discuss what it means to draw upon your years of valuable experience, take the entrepreneurial leap and make something happen.

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