Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Dictionary.com states that an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” There are more than 25 million of them in the U.S. alone.
You may notice that the word “risk” comes up in both. Entrepreneurs have long been associated with being big risk-takers — throwing caution to the wind in pursuit of wealth, or rolling the dice against the odds. The truth is that most entrepreneurs are more comfortable with risk than most people, but that doesn’t make them risk-seekers. They’re optimists and realists who are willing to face risk and mitigate it. It’s what they do.
Small business owners and startup founders often find themselves running on fumes, living on the brink of insolvency as they try to provide for their families. The SBA says only roughly 20 percent of new businesses survive past their first year of operation. But, if they make it past that, the chances for survival start rising. And they get there by mitigating risk. So get comfortable with it. Here are four tips that can help give you perspective:
Know that it’s always there.
Risk is an inherent part of entrepreneurship — from the personal capital you invest, to the daily business decisions you have to make. The more you accept that, the easier it is to live with.
Don’t start after you stop.
Many entrepreneurs will finally pull the trigger on starting their business — the biggest risk they’ve ever taken — and then want to play it safe. That’s how many businesses stagnate. To grow your business you have to go chase opportunities, and every opportunity comes with a level of risk.
Not every chance you take is going to work out.
Occasionally, even your most calculated risks will fail. But, then again, some of those ambiguous or completely unknown risks may pay off wildly. Just because the opportunity you took that seemed like a sure thing tanked, that shouldn’t deter you from taking similar risks in the future.
The risks you take are what define you.
Risks are the biggest differentiator in business. Large or small, highly calculated or potential business breakers, the risks you take are what move you in uncharted directions to find the space to build something truly great and unique.
There are lots of real risks out in the world that carry permanent consequences. The risks we take every day as entrepreneurs are not as dangerous in comparison. I spent a lot of time in different countries and cultures at a young age and it gave me a perspective I hold on to today. If you have your health and the people you love around you, and you’re smart and talented, then nothing else really matters. There’s not a lot of real risk sitting out there for you. If you create a business and it fails, you can always start another one. You’re likely not facing harm to the degree of jail or death. You will still have the most important things in life to pick you up and help you rebuild.