Minimizing the Risks of Entrepreneurship

It’s long been thought that pursuing the dream of owning your own business is a risky proposition. And while some element of uncertainty is an inherent part of any entrepreneurial endeavor, the risks associated with being your own boss in this day and age may not be as great as they once were. Why? First and foremost, it’s because the old ways of doing things just don’t apply. And second, everything is relative, perhaps more so than ever before.

Let’s start with today’s changed economic climate. Time was not too long ago that someone would work for the same company for the duration of his or her career, all the while enjoying great health and other benefits that made loyalty worthwhile. Perhaps more importantly that loyalty was returned. Those days are long gone. Job security, no matter what the workplace setting and in virtually every industry, just isn’t a reality anymore. There are no guarantees.

While that reality may seem like a downer, other changes have come along that well make up for it. For example, technology has had a huge positive impact, creating an unprecedented number of alternative self-employment options today. Not only that, but it’s made everything it takes to run a business―from marketing to simple administrative tasks and everything in between―that much more affordable and efficient.

Put the big picture together on all of this, and the prospect of owning your own business opportunity, distributorship or franchise―or even starting your own business from scratch―becomes less about going after some romantic pipedream and more about achieving a very concrete and realistic goal.

So if you think owning your own business is something you’d like to do, but extreme risk makes you uneasy, there are a number of things you can do to minimize it while maximizing your chances of success.

Here are some of them:

• Consider buying an existing business, one with name recognition, trained staff and a proven track record. Or, explore the incredible array of business opportunities, distributorships, licensee opportunities and franchises that are available, most of which provide an already established business model, as well as training and ongoing support.

• Choose a business that requires very little in the way of up-front capital investment or start-up costs. For example, the number of viable Internet-based business opportunities is increasing each and every day, and many of them do not require much money up front to get started.

• If you’re determined to start a business from scratch, know this: Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. ‘Nuf said!

• Select a business that you can work on part-time at first, one that does not require you to give up your day job until the time is right.

• Start by dabbling. Try marketing your product or service on a very small scale at first in order to test your proposed market. Take some time to conduct a feasibility study before you jump into anything. Is there sufficient demand for what it is your offering in your area? Define your competition and make sure you are very clear on how you will be different and/or superior.

• Don’t have your head in the sand going in. Recognize that the vast majority of new businesses do not make a profit during the first year or so. Be prepared. Make sure you have enough financial resources to get you through until your business achieves some semblance of stability.

• Be clear from the outset how you will define success―short-term, long-term and over the course of your working life. Set your goals accordingly, and take steps to achieve them in manageable and realistic allotments of time. And remember, success is always and forever will be about more than just making money.

• Finally, it’s a fact that people who love what they do will tend to succeed more often than those who don’t. So choose what it is you want to do very carefully. As a business owner, you’re undoubtedly going to have to work longer and harder than you ever imagined. But, if you love it, it’s all worth it. Moreover, even though you may have to incur some element of risk, you and you alone will reap all the rewards and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from living without regret. And that’s not such a bad payoff.