Today I want to talk to you about risk.
Specifically, the risks associated with being an entrepreneur and the risks associated with being an employee.
I find myself surrounded by people in certain areas of my life who think that being an entrepreneur and foregoing the steady paycheck that comes with being an employee is too risky.
They’ll sit there and tell you statistics about how 9 out of 10 businesses fail and ask you what you’re going to do for health insurance. And don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly some validity to those points.
But here’s what I don’t get…these people act like being an employee is devoid of risk.
Every single day there’s people who have loyally worked at their employer for years, if not decades, only to be laid off for reasons that are totally out of their control. Think about the different things that can lead to your termination:
These are just a few examples, and all of these things are totally out of your control. How is leaving your fate up to something like that not equally, if not more risky?
If you own your own business, at least when shit goes wrong in the economy or if your industry is declining, you’re firmly in control of your own destiny.
My first investment property is the perfect example of this. Everything that could have gone wrong with it did go wrong. It was a terrible situation.
But, there was one great thing about the project – I was in control.
I could get in there and pull different levers.
I could fire my terrible contractor (which I did), I could decide that certain projects needed to be put off and others needed to be tackled right away (which I did), and I could literally get in there and do some of the work myself (which I did).
To me, it all comes down to control. I'll take a riskier situation every day of the week and twice on Sunday if I get more control than I would with a less risky situation.
This isn't the case for everyone, so if you're struggling with the decision of whether to be an entrepreneur or stay in Corporate America, you need to ask yourself what level of risk you're willing to tolerate.
The decision can't be, “well, I'll just stay at my job because it's risk-free.” That's simply not the case. Analyze the risks associated with each and then make the call.
There's one more risk that I haven't mentioned yet.
Knowing this, you have to take into account the risk of not pursuing your dreams. Staying at a Corporate America job means you're going to spend your life building somebody else's dream.
Every day that passes is another day that you haven't created something for yourself.
The idea of getting old and looking back on a life where I didn't take the leap scares the living shit out of me. It makes me cringe.
Jim Carrey gave a graduation speech where he talked about this exact concept.
He talked about how his dad worked as an accountant for years instead of pursuing his passion to be a comedian. He pursued this “safe” career, only to be fired down the road. This sent their family into a dark period where they struggled to get by. The lesson Carrey took out of this is incredibly poignant. He said,
“You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
For me, the thing that finally cemented my decision to leave the “safety” of my job was the realization that I could always go get another job.
Assuming you have a decently marketable resume within your industry, ask yourself how difficult it would really be to go get another job at a different firm if you decided to pursue entrepreneurship and it didn't end up working out.
When I thought this through I realized that the fears that had prevented me from leaving my employer for so long were truly unfounded.
It's about having the confidence in yourself that you'll be able to make it work no matter what. Either the business succeeds or worst case scenario it fails and you re-enter Corporate America with a great experience under your belt.
So I'd encourage you to think long and hard about these risks and question the validity of the underlying beliefs you may have had about your job's safety.
Remember, you can always go get another job.
Until next time, enjoy.
Alex is a serial entrepreneur, coach, and active investor who drives growth and scale for his portfolio companies.