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How to Take Risks Like a Pro

If you're considering taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, ask yourself the right questions first.
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There are22.9 Million small businesses in the United States, each with an entrepreneur behind it. These innovative minds are whatour country was founded on and part of what makes America great. Passionate entrepreneurs can make it big, regardless of theirbackground, education, oradownturned economy--aslong as they are willingto take a risk.

According to Business Insider, only halfof new employer businesses last for more than five years. Defying those odds, Michelle MacDonald founded Sweet Note Bagelsin 2012 to give bagel enthusiastsagluten-free option. She has been passionate about baking her whole life, but has family members with gluten restrictions. Because this isaproblem foralot of individuals, she knewthere was a richmarket. She invested all of her savings ($15,000) and maxed out every credit card she had to launch the business. Almost two years later, Sweet Note isa$250,000 business and rapidly growing.

Zeeshan Kaba,asuccessful real estate business owner, was outside one morning when his allergies flared up. It popped into his mind that there were only lozenges for colds and coughs, not for allergies. So he gathered the necessary professionals and created AllergEase,a tasty, all-natural lozenge that speedily relieves the symptoms of allergies. Taking the plunge, he hired people to run his real estate business and went into this new industry full time. Ayear later, they hadaproduct.Ayear after that, they had national distribution with major retailers.

David Daneshgar, Farbod Shoraka, and Gregg Weisstein wanted to open an online flower marketplace, but didn't have enough money for initial funding. Interestingly enough, Daneshgar was alsoaprofessional poker player. The three co-founders decided to takeavery literalrisk, entering David ina bigpoker tournament staked with their personal funds. Luckily, they won $25,000 and were able to start their company,BloomNation.com.

Riskslikethese could give ulcers to the best of us. The loss could be great, but the payoff could be life-changing. How do you know? What should you take into account?

Changing the World for the Better

Michelle suggests asking yourself, "Am I solvingaproblem with my product or service?" The strong need for what you're proposing to offer is the best place to start for any business. In her case, there weren'talot of gluten-free options for her family. It wasaproblem that she accommodated and succeeded. What problems would your new business solve?

Raising the Stakes

"What is the growth potential for the new venture compared to what you're doing now?" Zeeshan asks. "Does the new project have the ability to grow faster and higher than the project you are currently involved in?" The example here would be exchangingareal estate business inalocal market foranatural supplement business inanational market. Obviously, the latter hasamuch broader audience.

Staying Logical

"Make calculated bets that you are willing to accept theriskfor and always try to keep emotion out of it," says Farbod. "Stripping away the bells and whistles, does the core of your idea solveareal pain point for people or businesses?" Heand his co-founders did their research. They found that people hated sending flowers through brokers and that florists hated working with those same brokers because it stifled their creativity. Because of their research and logic, "The Bloom Boyz" knew that technology was not solving the problem and that their revolutionized marketplace would.

As enticing as it is to build your own company and be more in control of your future, you have to factor thisrisk. To do this, ask yourselfalot of questions. If the answers are 90% positive, then you just might be onto something great.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2014

MOLLY REYNOLDS

Molly Reynolds has a strong passion for helping creative innovators see their start-ups fully realized. She gives regular marketing lectures and seminars for universities, professional associations, and business summits--helping entrepreneurs fine-tune their skills for creatively selling their product and themselves.




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