Is Small Business Risky?

How much of a risk is it to start a small business? What are the things that you feel you have to overcome in order to dive into this arena? It’s the digital age– you can start a business while sitting at the dining room table in one evening before your favorite nighttime reality show comes on. So is small business today truly risky?

business risk

In a recent “20/20” episode, Robert Frank, Wealth Reporter for The Wall Street Journal, said:

“Part of the risk-taking personality is the ability to overcome failure….One of the things that makes billionaires successful is their reaction to failure.”

This makes me think of my own, sometimes risk-aversive behavior.  Who wouldn’t love an automatic win, a sure thing, a guaranteed success? But the truth is business carries opportunity and costs.

The Opportunity

When you start a business, you get to, as Captain James T. Kirk (yes, “Star Trek”) says, “boldly go where no man [or woman] has gone before.” The adventure itself is a reward, apart from what you discover and create (and sell).

The Cost

You have to boldly go where no man has gone before. That means no lighted path, no safety markers, no examples. Just you, your team and your dream (and a plan).

The Real Risk

This economy has taught me that the real risk is in staying the same. Observing the status quo and available resources, and then using that knowledge to solve problems that everyone else ignores, is smart business. The true risk is in doing what everybody else is doing, and hoping it will take care of you for the life of your business.

And I’ve discovered that just because it’s easy to start a business sitting at the dining room table in one evening before your favorite nighttime reality show comes on doesn’t mean that it’s as easy to maintain it or to grow it.

What risks are you taking?


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

7 Reactions
  1. Jamillah

    After 30 years working in the corporate world and then leaving to run my own on-line business…that was a big risk (for me!).

    I’ve loved every day since!


  2. I understand that feeling!

    How long have you been doing your online business?

  3. I’ve found that the bigger risk is inaction.

  4. I personally believe that the real danger is having a 9-5 job. Back in the day you could go to University, get a good job, buy a house, raise a family and sit there until you retire. Now days with layoffs and companies going overseas there really isnt any job security any more.
    Overnight 100% of your income could stop if your work decides to lay you off. In small business, this is not the case. You can lose a client but you still have many more.

    Many small businesses also have multiple streams of income too so when one dries up, the other streams can take the slack.

  5. Jamillah

    I had survived so many lay offs I knew that I couldn’t keep escaping it.

    So I started my ‘plan b’ 6 years ago while still working full-time. I worked evenings/weekends on my own business.

    It took me 3 years of part-time work before I could go full-time…so to answer your question…6 years, 3 p/t, 3 f/t.


  6. I like this:

    “the bigger risk is inaction” – Kelly Scanlon

    “the real danger is having a 9-5 job” – Bryce Whitty

    “I started my ‘plan b’ 6 years ago…” Andrew Rondeau

  7. I wish there was a “thumbs up” button like on Facebook. I’d give all these comments a thumbs-up. Plus make a small inspiration book for new business owners with quotes like Jamillah has highlighted above.