Friday, September 28, 2007

The Scariness of Taking Chances

(or, Better the Devil You Know than the One You Don't)

So many "wanna be" entrepreneurs I talk to have a real drive and longingness to leave the cubicle confines and strike out on their own. But, within 2 minutes of sitting down with them, I can pinpoint with 99% accuracy whether they'll put a stake in the ground and be a raging success or never get off square one.

WHY don't they leave? Here's the top three reasons:

1. STATUS-- I don't care if you detest every day you enter the office. If your business card says "Jane Doe, Vice President of Business Development, IBM" you carry a lot of weight in our society. Try explaining to your mother why you would give up a six-figure salary with a well-known company to try your hand at starting a faux-finish painting business. It may feed your soul, but will it impress your neighbors?

2. ROUTINE-- You may have a comfortable routine that includes a stop at your favorite cafe to get a latte in the morning, or a workout in the gym next to your office at lunchtime. Even if you work long hours, your body is accustomed to a familiar routine and will resist any change, regardless if it is good for you or not. If you are married with kids, you may have a carefully choreographed dance between you and your spouse for who gets the kids ready, drops them at school, drives them to various activities or gets them ready for bed. When you start your business, you will not have a predictable schedule and this can wreak havoc on your family life.

3. RECOGNITION FOR YOUR EXPERTISE-- If you have been working for a good number of years in a corporate setting, most likely you have developed some great skills and have a breadth of experience in your field. Peers recognize your expertise, and even partners and vendors acknowledge that you know what you are talking about. If you were to chuck all this for a new, untried venture, you would put yourself back to a beginner stage where you feel incompetent in what you are doing. A few people enjoy this feeling. Most people hate it.

Like the lyrics in Celine Dion's new song, "Taking Chances"

But what do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there’s solid ground below
A hand to hold,
Or hell to pay,
What do you say?

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