In this episode, I debunk the myth that everyone should own a business. Entrepreneurship requires a high tolerance for risk and can deeply affect personal relationships. Success in business isn’t just about skills, but about being comfortable with constant uncertainty. I encourage you to consider your own risk tolerance and personal responsibilities before pursuing entrepreneurship. Now let’s dive in.

 

Transcript:

Hi everybody. Welcome back to the Good Business Podcast. Today’s topic is all about the myth that everyone can and should own a business. It sounds really simple, right? You’re good at something, and everybody you know says that you should start a business doing it. So you do! Yay! You’re a business owner now.

It’s all so exciting until it starts getting really complicated and hard. The clients don’t come as easily as you thought, and the money isn’t flowing like you expected. All of your friends told you you’d be successful at this thing they thought you were really good at, but it’s not working out that way.

The prevailing notion that everyone is cut out for business ownership is fundamentally flawed. There are people in the world who just aren’t, and it’s not their fault. It’s not anyone’s fault, but it is a truth. And it isn’t just a benign fantasy peddled by eager marketers and educators in business studies and business coaching. It is, in fact, a really harmful idea. It’s laden with the potential for personal dissatisfaction and serious financial collapse.

Beyond the risk and underneath all the excitement, very few people actually stop and consider whether owning a business will bring them joy and happiness, or if it’s just a way harder job than they had before with way more bosses. That whole idea that you become a business owner and you don’t have a boss anymore is completely wrong. You don’t have one boss. You have like 14 bosses. Every single client becomes your boss. Your website becomes your boss. Your social media becomes your boss. All these things become obligations that are pushing in on you. They just don’t have the potential to fire you all at once the way a traditional boss does, but you definitely don’t ease up in the obligation and pressure department when you’re a business owner.

The unfortunate truth is that the essential ingredient for sustaining entrepreneurship is not something that’s taught in most classrooms or online business courses. They don’t talk about this. It’s not financial acumen or marketing skills or sales experience or being good at what you do, though you obviously need all of those things too. It’s something that isn’t teachable or learnable, which is why people like me don’t try to teach it because you can’t learn it. So they just ignore how critical it is. And that thing is how comfortable you are with risk.

Why risk? Why is that so critical? Because business ownership is synonymous with risk-taking. But hardly anyone thinks about that before they get started. Those who love it versus those who hate it, that’s the divide between success and failure. It’s the space where that becomes most apparent. Humans react to risk in fundamentally opposite ways, and while there’s some people that are kind of on a spectrum, for the most part it’s pretty polarizing. They either thrive or they falter under pressure. There’s almost no middle ground, just a polarizing spectrum between risk aversion and risk affinity.

If you find yourself even slightly leaning towards the aversion end, the entrepreneurial journey is going to be a really rocky one for you, with a lot of stress, hand-wringing, and anxiety that doesn’t get any easier the more successful you become. Success as an entrepreneur involves navigating countless uncertain moments. If the prospect of constant uncertainty, the kind that feels like working without a net, is uncomfortable for you, your journey will be fraught with more anxiety than most people can reasonably metabolize.

For those who don’t find that massive creative energy spark from risk, like I do – I’m one of those people, like more risk, more amazing things fall in my brain – the regularity of traditional employment might be a lot more appealing. After all, the entrepreneurial path is not just about handling external business risks. It’s also about handling your internal responses to those challenges.

The idea becomes even more complex when we consider personal relationships and life circumstances. Beyond not talking about risk, we really don’t talk about this. We don’t talk about how our businesses affect our families, how they affect the people around us. Often, the narrative of pursuing business ownership overlooks the significant others in people’s lives. We are so quick to idolize the pursuit of dreams, but we are absolutely sloth-like slow to recognize the sacrifices and adjustments required to maintain equitable harmony and happiness in our personal relationships. We just don’t talk about it. We don’t consider it.

The dream of business ownership has to be weighed against the reality of your responsibilities and emotional commitments to your partners, your children, your aging parents, your friends, your loved ones – the people in your life that make your life worth living. When we fail to look hard enough at how our choices affect the people in the community around us, we set ourselves up for mistakes that we can’t come back from. And that’s the thing that nobody talks about on a sales page. Because when you actually stop and think about how this is going to affect your family, you start questioning your buying decisions. You start questioning the paths that you take. And you should.

In essence, the mantra that anyone can own a business doesn’t account for individual tolerances around risk. It doesn’t account for personal responsibilities, life goals, financial circumstances. It simplifies the intricate balance that’s required to sustain personal happiness alongside professional success.

To boil it all down, the idea that everyone should own a business underestimates the profound impact of intrinsic personal traits and external life conditions. If you are not comfortable with risking not just your financial stability, but the financial stability of your family, your relationships, the people that matter most to you, then you are not considering the full picture.

Especially in Western culture, especially in American culture, being a business owner is glorified. You’re allowed to sacrifice your time, your energy, your money, everything in pursuit of your dreams. The American dream – it’s all baked into a cultural ethos around hard work. But it’s broken. We all know it’s broken, right? This ideology has not only proven to be incredibly detrimental by pushing individuals towards absolutely unsuitable paths but also by obscuring the importance of achieving a balance between professional ambitions and personal happiness.

Ultimately, like so many other areas of business, recognizing and respecting that balance is an absolutely crucial piece of the puzzle in achieving your fulfillment, the fulfillment of the people around you, societal progress around the culture of commerce, and a fundamental understanding of what truly drives innovation and entrepreneurship.

There are absolutely people who have an extremely high risk tolerance, who are driven by high-pressure situations and they drive innovation. They are the innovators in our culture. They always have been, and they always will be. And we have this idea that if we are not that way, we are somehow subpar. The worker bees are not exactly glorified in our culture, but they should be. Because everybody’s wired differently. Everybody’s wired for different things.

You could have an extremely high risk tolerance and be married to somebody who has an extremely low risk tolerance. Maybe that whole opposites attract thing worked really well for a long time until one of you decided to start a high-risk business and invest all of your savings into it. And then all of a sudden there’s a fracture there that wasn’t there before. You’ve got to respect the fact that you might not be wired the same way as the people you care about. And you have to decide whether or not that’s something that’s going to change how you pursue your dreams.

That’s something where risk aversion and our care and empathy for the people around us have to be tied together. It sounds funny. They don’t seem like ideas that should be tied together that way, but they absolutely should. Because it’s one of those things that is most indicative of how much you’re willing to risk. And when you really love risk, you will forget to think about this because it’s just baked right in. You won’t even realize what you’re signing up to sacrifice when you’re taking some big swing. But you should be aware.

So I’m speaking to all of the entrepreneurs out there who are willing to take big swings and don’t even think about how that might affect the happiness and joy of the people they care about. It happens all the time and it doesn’t make them narcissists and it doesn’t make them thoughtless. It just makes them highly risk-tolerant. And they don’t realize that that’s not how everyone is.

And then I’m also speaking to the business owners out there who are like, “Why is everything so hard? And why does it all feel so wrong? Why is everything just such a steep climb and I’m not willing to do that? And how come this is so easy for some people and it’s not easy for me?” This is why if you don’t feel like you can love risk, risking everything for what you want, then you’re going to have a continuously tough time.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t be a business owner. It doesn’t mean you can’t be an entrepreneur. It means that you have to recognize that there are times where you’re going to have to push out of your comfort zone to take risks you might be uncomfortable with. And that discomfort is something you’ll probably have moments where you’re gonna have to push through. And if you can’t even do that, if the idea of pushing through any level of risk-based discomfort is abhorrent, then you probably won’t make it. And that’s the uncomfortable truth because you can’t make it in business without taking some big swings along the way.

There will be moments where it’s do or die, where you just have to try, where you have to go all in, where you have to invest in something that you didn’t know you were going to have to invest in, where you have to put stuff on the line. I don’t know a single business that hasn’t had to do that at least once.

So when you think about starting a business, when you are contemplating what’s going wrong, why isn’t this working, take a look at your personal wiring. Sometimes being incredibly risk-tolerant can be just as detrimental because you can be that person who’s willing to take big swings when you shouldn’t, when you should be a little bit more conservative, when you should be a little bit more patient. The idea is to just understand which end of that spectrum you’re on so that you can inch your way towards the middle, where it’s a little safer, where you can have a more level head, where you can recognize the moments that need the big swings and the moments when you need to step back from the cliff a little bit.

So how do you guys think about risk tolerance? I would love to hear from everyone here who thinks about that, like at least give it some contemplation. I hope you all have a really fabulous and risk-free day and thank you for tuning in. Have a great week. Bye.

 

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