Is it worth the risk to start a business now?

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“I’m excited to finally get working on something I’ve only dreamed about but a little nervous about taking the risk at my age. I’ve always heard you shouldn’t take risks when you’re close to retirement” a client/friend said this morning as we worked on action steps to accomplish her business goals for 2014.  (Note: I never repeat a conversation without permission.)


Aspiring entrepreneurs bring up “risk” often and for many, misunderstanding risk keeps them in a state of paralyzing fear so they never act on their dreams.


It’s high time we examine exactly what “risk” means.


noun: the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen


verb: to act or fail to act in such a way as to bring about the possibility of an unpleasant or unwelcome event



“Risk” is a word that I frequently hear in regard to my solo  travels. Women friends say, “I’d love to go off alone like you do but I’m afraid to risk traveling alone.”  I do not see it as a risk because the probability of something unpleasant occurring is unlikely and I do not act or fail to act in a way as to bring about the possibility of an unpleasant or unwelcome event. I always have my car serviced prior to driving cross country and I never camp in a place that is likely to put me in danger.


When starting a business at any age, there are good risks and bad risks just as there is good debt (a manageable mortgage) and bad debt (careless consumption on credit). Offering a product or service that the world needs and you are driven and able to provide is a good risk and only a risk in that there is never a 100% guarantee of success. A bad risk is investing or borrowing more money than you are confident you can repay. That’s why I suggest resellers only purchase in quantities that they will be able to pay for in 30 days. It’s why I never charge more for courses or coaching than I am confident a client will make back many times over if they do the work. It’s also why I am opposed to SBA loans and am a proponent of businesses that take very little start-up capital and it’s the reason I encourage “start small”.


Do I see starting a business later in life as a risk? If you’re going to borrow or invest an amount that makes you uncomfortable, then, yes, that’s a risk at any age. What I do see as frightening is facing an old age of regret because I was afraid to chase my dreams.


Is unreasonable fear going to have you are looking back at the end of your life regretting that you didn’t take the risk to explore and nurture your ideas? That’s a very scary thought indeed.


If you have an idea that keeps boomeranging and excites you but scares you, ask yourself, “Is this a reasonable fear? Is this a good risk or a bad risk?”  Can you start small and build your dream in a way that doesn’t scare you? I believe nearly any idea is do-able that way. How about yours?

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