Articles - Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Social Business

Risks and rewards: starting out as an entrepreneur

Taking the leap and starting your own business is a big step. Although over 67% of entrepreneurs are driven by non-financial motivations, like a passion for their business idea or a general desire for more independence, it’s still important to remember the risks you run – and how you plan to reduce them.


Getting started

Finding the right moment to turn your business plan into reality is crucial. According to Thomas Åstebro, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at HEC Paris, there are two major factors to consider

  • Financial: Can you afford to lose the money that you’re investing – and that your family and friends have invested?
  • Personal: Will you be able to rejoin the job market, whether as a full-time employee or a contractor, if your company doesn’t make it? Knowing that can give you something of an additional safety net.


Success and failure

In effect, you need to plan to succeed but at the same time be ready for failure – as Professor Åstebro says, owning a business is a lot “like playing the lottery”, and you won’t always get what you want the first time round. 

In fact, deciding what you want is also key to weighing up the opportunities and risks. Michel Safars, Affiliate Professor of Strategy and Business Policy at HEC Paris, says your “worst enemy will be your words”. Setting investors’ expectations unreachably high means a successful, small, moderately profitable business will still be considered a failure – because of unrealistic objectives.


Mitigating risk

Once you’re financially ready to start your company and you’ve defined a successful end goal, you’ll want a way to launch that reduces risk.

This might be through analyzing data and running scenarios and projections. However, this only helps inform you of the risk – it doesn’t reduce it. More and more, people with an entrepreneurial spirit are turning to a new model: intrapreneurship. Developing your ideas and promoting innovation within an existing company can be an effective way to flex your creative muscles while also giving yourself a cushion.


To find out more about how the new breed of ‘intrapreneurs’ are pitching their ideas and winning support from major companies, read our whitepaper ‘Learning from the Experts: How to start your own business’.