The benefits of being an entrepreneur are obvious--you set your own schedule, control your own fate, and reap all the rewards of your hard work--but just as obvious to most people are the downsides: The income is variable (or possibly nonexistent), the responsibility to employees is great, and the hours are usually long. Plus, most new businesses fail.

In short: Entrepreneurship is really hard and really risky, right? The first half of that sentence is undeniable. Getting a company off the ground does take lots of time and sweat. But not everyone agrees that starting a business is as risky as most reluctant would-be entrepreneurs believe.

In a post everyone sitting in their cubicle dreaming of being his or her own boss should read, Scot Herrick argued on blog Cube Rules recently that the lure of "job security" is a trap. What looks like the central draw of life as an employee is really a career "deadly sin," he writes.

Risky? Compared with what?

Herrick devotes the post to tearing down the notion that being a 9-to-5 desk jockey really offers anything that could be called security. First, he reminds readers of a truth that they're probably already aware of but prefer to forget: In today's employment landscape, stasis and loyalty are dead, and therefore so is job security.

"You can think your job is secure. But then, circumstances change--all of which are out of your control. You wake up one morning and your company has been bought out by another (this has happened to me three times). Your secure job just got thrown out the window," he says. "Or the business you're in decides to move in a different direction. You're doing some type of work and now you're not."

But Herrick also makes a deeper point about the problem with the term "job security," which make the concept not just misguided but actually a "career deadly sin" in his opinion. "Job security talk is really talk about fear," he writes, and fear is far from the ideal motivator when it comes to making savvy career choices.

Both points apply to anyone deluded enough to still be chasing old-fashioned job security in this day and age, but Herrick's points have special resonance for aspiring entrepreneurs. If fear of losing job security is a main stumbling block to striking out on your own, then facing the fact that job security is an illusion must necessarily make the path of entrepreneurship relatively less risky and more appealing. In short: You're probably overestimating the security of your current setup and therefore underestimating the relative risk of following your dreams. (And if you're worried you simply don't have the personality to start a business, be reassured that studies show that entrepreneurs are not as risk tolerant as the popular imagination would have you believe.)

Less risk, more regret.

Still reluctant to pursue your passion? If you don't find Herrick's takedown of job security compelling enough, there are other arguments. Both research and end-of-life testimonials attest that we regret actions not taken far more than failed attempts. So even if entrepreneurship is comparatively risky, you'll still probably kick yourself for not giving it a go down the road.

What's holding you back from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams?

Published on: Feb 17, 2015
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