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The Risks and Rewards of Going into Business for Yourself

The Risks and Rewards of Going into Business for Yourself

No one would deny that starting a new business is fraught with risks, but given the uncertainty involved why is it that the US sees over 500,000 new business starts every year? After launching and running several successful businesses, along with my fair share of duds, I’m confident in my explanation. Despite the potential pitfalls, entrepreneurs launch new ventures because the benefits can be equally if not more significant than the chances that something might go wrong.

Nonetheless, it’s up to everyone to decide whether the rewards outweigh the risks of going into business for yourself.

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Risks Associated with Starting a New Venture

Again, there numerous risks associated with starting a business. Here are five of the most common ones to consider before jumping in feet first.

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  1. Long and Erratic Hours. Whether you’re adequately funded and staffed or not, as a new business owner you can expect to put in many more hours than you would at a 9 to 5. In fact, you’ll probably work more hours than anyone else in your company and with good reason–entrepreneurs wear many hats. Plus, at the end of the day when all is said and done, as the business owner, the buck stops with you. So, the moment you start your new venture you’re signing up for long and often erratic hours.
  2. Many Ruffled Feathers. Again, long and unpredictable hours are often commonplace when starting a business. So, as you might imagine the hectic schedules that often come with entering a new venture often leaves little opportunity to cultivate what matters most–relationships. Hence, family and friends can often find themselves on the short end of the stick when you begin your new venture; therefore, it’s important to build breaks into your schedule because if you don’t force yourself to stop and smell the roses, it won’t happen.
  3. Unforeseen Changes in the Market Environment. Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we start businesses oblivious to massive shifts that are occurring all around us. Many of which could easily have the potential to negatively impact your new business concern. For example, I’ve seen so many sink tens of thousands into new storefronts only to be told by local authorities – after the fact – that upcoming zoning laws will require them to make expensive renovations to ‘stay within code’ or close their doors. Of course, you can sometimes offset these types of scenarios by performing your due diligence. Nonetheless, there are some changes that you just won’t see coming no matter how much planning and preparation you do, which is why you must factor a certain degree of the unknown into all that you do as a business owner.
  4. Lack of Management Experience. There is a notion that I’ve seen among many new entrepreneurs that if they hire good managers, the owner’s lack of management experience won’t matter. Unfortunately, as many find out this is often not the case because without the requisite experience, how will you be able to identify whether your managers are making mistakes. This inability to distinguish between wise or poor business decisions is why many business experts recommend that entrepreneurs take on management positions for someone else before striking out on their own.
  5. Potential for Financial Loss. Running a business requires careful budgeting and financial management. However, the problem with many entrepreneurs is that we tend to start businesses without understanding key management functions, like how to forecast profits and losses or create financial reports.

Our lack of financial know-how is often compounded by the fact that many new businesses start before they’ve had an opportunity to secure adequate funding. Hence, it’s not uncommon to see new business owners scrambling to find odd jobs to make ends meet. One way to avoid severe cash shortages is to set aside six to twelve months of personal expenses before starting your business.

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Rewards of Starting a New Business

While there are vast challenges that come with starting your own business, the rewards can often make up for it.

  1. The Opportunity to Grow through New Challenges. One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that you get to break away from the monotony of punching a clock and doing the same job duties, day in and out. As a business owner, you’ll face new challenges and tasks on a regular basis. In fact, it is rare that you’ll do the same thing two days in a row! And the best part of performing new activities on a regular basis is that it gives you the opportunity to grow and learn, which will ultimately help you become a better business person.
  2. You Get to Surround Yourself with Great Folks. Let’s face it, as nice as it is to earn a steady paycheck, a 9 to 5 certainly has its drawbacks. Perhaps chief among them is having to work in an environment, not of your choosing. Doing so means that you have zero say in who you will work alongside. Hence, a common complaint among those who choose to work for someone else is that they can’t get along with their supervisor or other co-workers. However, when you’re the boss you get to choose the folks that you work with, and if it turns out that you hired someone that’s hard to get along with, you have the option of letting them go.
  3. Chart Your Own Course. The ability to determine the success or failure of your business is a big draw for many entrepreneurs. In fact, many business owners cite this as their sole reason for going into business. Given that entrepreneurship tends to attract those with a take charge mentality, the business arena is a great place to go if you enjoy making weighty decisions.
  4. A Flexible Schedule. Although we often associate entrepreneurship with long and unpredictable hours, there is another side to it. Running a new business sometimes gives you more flexibility than you’d have as a full-time employee. For example, many business owners have more time to travel and participate in volunteer than full-timers.
  5. Financial Potential. There are many different motivations for doing one thing or another. For instance, some are motivated by helping others, while others find motivation in facing new challenges. But whatever helps you wake up in the morning, it’s difficult to overlook the hefty financial rewards that could await those who can successfully manage business risks. As a business owner, you’re usually only one deal away from reaping huge financial dividends.

There you have it, the most common risks and rewards of starting a business. Learn how to mitigate them, and you’ll be well on your way to big things in the business arena. Here’s to entrepreneurial success!

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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