That Risk Ain’t So Risky

What is considered risky by one person may be conservative for another. Whether personal, financial, or business each person has a point they will not pass, a chance they will not take.

What I don’t like is when other people project their fear, their cautiousness onto me. The hard part is when your spouse is the one you can’t seem to agree with. In my case that’s a good thing. Julie keeps me in check, tamps my enthusiasm and brings a dose of reality to an otherwise overly optimistic me.

It turns out, however, that common risks like starting a business aren’t nearly as risky as people may think.

In a blog post on the Harvard Business Review website Bruce Gibney and Ken Howery state, “Entrepreneurship is a deviation, an occupation for heroes, heroic for the reasons it can’t be recommended: it’s just too unsafe. But the conventional position is nonsense; building new companies is far more sensible than the practical will admit.”

Imagine this conversation. “What’s your major?”


“You mean business, right? Entrepreneurship isn’t a job, where do you plan on working?”

“Wherever I want, doing whatever I want.”

The idea of working wherever you want without being limited by a career path may look to others like a lack of focus but it is a life many people aspire to and have had great success with. As I point out in my book, What Next A Proactive Approach to Success, Scott Loughmiller, an entrepreneur, saw two paths out of college, work for someone else or be the boss and start his own company. Scott chose the latter and it worked out very well.

How many people with “safe” jobs lost them in the most recent economic volatility? In contrast, Gibney and Howery point out that “of 5,000 businesses started in 2004, almost 56% were still in business in 2010, despite suffering through a brutal economic downturn.” Of the 44% that aren’t still in business, how many have moved on to another business that is still active?

Entrepreneurship should be encouraged. Starting a business is not risky. Pouring all your savings, even going deep into debt, for an idea that hasn’t been researched, hasn’t been tested, is not risky, it’s foolish. I’m sure it was a risk for Richard Branson to start Virgin Airways but I’m sure he didn’t throw caution to the wind and make hasty decisions without research. If Virgin Airways was not profitable, if it were starting to drag the rest of his businesses down, I’m sure he would eliminate it before any real damage could be done.

I spent money to publish my book and I’m spending money to publicize it. I don’t know if any good will come from it but I’m not going broke in the process. There is a point beyond which I will not proceed but until then I keep moving forward with one goal in mind.  My book was a risk but it was not risky.

What is a risk you’ve wanted to take but didn’t out of fear or pressure from others? Share your answers below in the comments area.

Posted in General, Success and tagged , , , , by with 2 comments.


  • As a personality psychologist, I couldn’t agree more that what seems risky to one person may seem not-so-risky to another. The underlying question, I think, is whether you are more motivated by the possibility of reward or by the possibility of punishment. When we’re tuned in to reward signals, risks are perceived as opportunities. When we’re tuned in to danger signals, risks seem risky. Self-destructive. Maybe dangerous. Loved your post and your thinking on this. Even inaction is risky. It may be riskier than revolutionary action, in fact. We should all embrace our ability to choose which risks are right for ourselves.

    • AJ says:

      Heidi, thank you for the comment it’s nice to see you visiting. Love the insight that even inaction is risky. How many people are paralyzed by fear or confusion or just a lack of confidence. Something I work on all the time.

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