“I am not an entrepreneur because I do not like taking risks.” Words people often use to explain why they have not taken the entrepreneurial route and started a business. I think this is a result of misunderstanding entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs do not live for risk. There is something else. That something else, IS within all of us, and it makes ALL of us entrepreneurs.
The hype of the risk-taking entrepreneur
Many people have explained entrepreneurship to me from a risk perspective. That made me think that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, I have to do the following: Light my hair on fire, smoke a cigar while sitting naked on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, racing down the street on my way to find the next great business idea or deal. Neither do I wake up in the morning saying, “I am going to have a bowl of risk for breakfast.” Well, can you blame me for thinking this way? Look at how entrepreneurs are portrayed in movies and even in magazines. As a family man with a bond and some other responsibilities, this image of entrepreneurship does not fit me, neither does it excite me. I will be put off entrepreneurship if I was someone considering this option in life.
Risk is not a choice. It never has been.
Risk is not a choice, it never has been and it never will be. It is not something you can switch on and off in a business deal or even life. Do our individual risk tolerances differ? Yes, it does, wildly. But the fact that you have a low risk tolerance does not mean you are not entrepreneurial. It means you will be taking shorter steps instead of giant leaps compared to someone who has a very high risk tolerance. Not being risky is cool, relaxing and still entrepreneurial.
Talk about taking a risk
I did a quick search and found that the average household income in the United States is $56,516 in 2015. Then I did a search for the average cost of raising a child in the United States. It turns out that it ranges between $12,350 and $14,000 per annum. That means nearly 25% of my annual income will go to one child. Heaven forbid - I have two kids. This is not exact science, I know, but I want to highlight a point here. The point I want to make, taking the numbers into account, is that having a kid is WAY more risky than most businesses and business deals I get involved in. Yet, people are still making kids. A business I can close when it does not work. I can’t “unmake” my kids when the financial pressure mounts. Although, you do start looking for such a solution once they become teenagers. 😀
The curiosity we all have (had)
Everyone was a kid, I am sure I can bank on that fact. Kids all have one thing in common, curiosity. They explore, learn and are curious 24/7. That is their job. Then we stick them into a school and other social environments and somehow curiosity disappears. I am not going to debate the school system now. There are other people with better knowledge and experience than me that can better argue the point. But when last were you curious? Or have you sunk into the rhythm of sinking into a the couch and choosing your favorite reality cooking show and then tuning out?
The curiosity is still in you. I know it is there, it never left, you just stopped paying attention to it. Entrepreneurs are curious about mixing, matching and adding things. Hear a complaint, let’s get curious about solving it using our adult knowledge of business and commerce. We are curious about finding new ways of solving a problem. We are curious about what will happen if we do old tasks in a new way. We are curious about making our own lives better and then luckily, sometimes, it spills over into other people’s lives and now we have customers. You will find the curiosity you have to make things better within you once you look for the evidence. Look at the way you pack your kids’ lunch and how you try to improve and fit their super fast changing needs. Isn’t that what businesses do with their customers? I can go on and create a bullet list of ways that normal people try to better and do things differently in their lives and how it plays into entrepreneurship, but I am sure you get my point.
To argue or rethink
You can choose to argue against this point. It's hard to believe that I actually had such a conversation, but somebody did argue with me about this point, insisting they love risk and it is all about the risk and that I am the god of wrong. Fine, they love risk, you do that young man, but please share the fact that you are risking your family's financial stability with them.
I believe we should spend some time on this point and rethink my perspective of entrepreneurship from a point perspective instead of risk. Risk scares people, curiosity gets people’s attention. Risk switches people off, curiosity reveals hidden human talent. Risk limits our thinking, curiosity widens our thinking. Risk stops many people in their tracks and they never become entrepreneurs, curiosity opens the door of entrepreneurship to anyone who ever was a kid (7 billion people). What would our financial situations, our local and global economies and the world as a whole look like if we just increased entrepreneurial uptake by 5% or even 10%? We can do this if we start showing people that they are entrepreneurial by virtue of curiosity and not their risk tolerance.