Risk Aversion in Entrepreneurship: Finding Your Comfort Level

Risk Aversion in Entrepreneurship: Finding Your Comfort Level | Explore strategies to navigate risk aversion in entrepreneurship effectively and master the entrepreneurial mind. Learn how to evaluate your risk tolerance, find low risk business ideas, and leverage a Portfolio Career, and start small to confidently build your business alongside a full-time job. | Entrepreneurship | Startups | Future of Work | Portfolio Career | low risk business ideas | the entrepreneurial mind | Online Business Coach | Small Business Coach | Business Coaching Services | Executive & Business Coaching | Business Coach for Entrepreneurs | Business Entrepreneurship | Entrepreneur classes | Entrepreneurship and Innovation | Small Business and Entrepreneurship | Becoming an entrepreneur | Digital Entrepreneur | Online entrepreneur | Entrepreneur coach | Entrepreneurship coach | Resources for entrepreneurs | Small business entrepreneur | small business entrepreneurship | Start your own business and become an entrepreneur | Business Coaching & Entrepreneurship Training by Ksenia Votinova-Arnaud
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Mastering the Entrepreneurial Mind: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Did you know that only about 50% of small businesses survive past the five-year mark, yet those that do often find unique paths to growth and success?

This statistic shines a light on the stark realities of entrepreneurship, underscoring both the risks and the resilience required to thrive. It’s a journey fraught with challenges, but also one rich with opportunities for those who navigate it wisely.

Let’s explore how you can embark on your entrepreneurial journey, not by diving headfirst into uncertainty but by strategically balancing the thrill of starting your own business with the stability of your current employment. This balanced approach is increasingly viable in today’s evolving job landscape, where Portfolio Careers are emerging as a powerful trend in the Future of Work.

Here, we will uncover how to start small, evaluate your personal risk tolerance accurately, find low risk business ideas, and incrementally expand your comfort zone. The aim is to provide a roadmap for integrating entrepreneurship into your professional life without the need to abandon the security of your day job immediately.

As we unpack the concept of Portfolio Careers and their role in mitigating entrepreneurial risk, you’ll discover how diversifying your career can not only safeguard against the volatility of business but also open doors to unexpected growth and fulfillment.

Join me in navigating the intricacies of risk aversion in entrepreneurship, and learn how to craft a career that blends the best of both worlds—stability and adventure.

1: Understanding and Evaluating Personal Risk Tolerance

Before diving into the entrepreneurial pool, it’s crucial to measure how deep you’re willing to go. Evaluating your risk tolerance involves more than introspection; it requires a structured approach to dissect and understand the layers of risks you’re open to taking. Here’s a step-by-step exercise to guide you through this process, illustrated by my own journey when co-founding Le VPN.

Step 1: Financial Readiness Assessment

  • Question 1: How long can you sustain yourself without income from your new venture? Analyze your savings and monthly expenses to calculate your financial runway.
  • Question 2: What are your financial safety nets, and how willing are you to use them (e.g., dipping into savings or selling assets)?

When I left my job in Bali, I crunched the numbers and realized I had around 6 months’ worth of living expenses saved if I moved back to Paris, or close to a year if I stayed in Asia. Opting for a middle path, I decided on a combination of both, adjusting my lifestyle to extend my financial runway as much as possible. I’ve already shared this and my other financial strategies in another article, and you can explore it here.

Step 2: Time Commitment Clarity

  • Question 1: What is your maximum commitment timeline for seeing results from your venture before considering a pivot or return to full-time employment?
  • Question 2: Discuss with any partners or co-founders about their expected time commitments for this new business. Are you aligned?

For Le VPN, setting clear timelines was crucial. I committed to giving the business my full attention and efforts, while my co-founder agreed to a part-time role in the beginning while he was still employed. We agreed on a timeframe within which we expected the business to take off, setting a clear benchmark for evaluating our progress.

Step 3: Risk Boundaries Definition

  • Question 1: What level of financial investment are you comfortable making in the business? This includes initial funding, ongoing expenses, and potential losses.
  • Question 2: What are the operational, legal, and market risks you are willing to take? Establish clear boundaries for each.

Together, my co-founder and I delineated what financial risks we were prepared to accept (so how much money we were ready to lose if it came to that), the operational challenges we were willing to face, and the legal uncertainties we could navigate. This discussion helped solidify our strategy and shared vision, serving as a guideline for our actions and decisions in the formative years of Le VPN.

By systematically assessing these areas, you not only gauge your readiness but also set a foundational strategy for your entrepreneurial journey. My own experience with Le VPN underscored the importance of this exercise. It wasn’t just about knowing my limits; it was about crafting a path that respected those limits while ambitiously pursuing our goals. This initial risk tolerance assessment and the decisions it led to became the cornerstone of our approach, guiding us through the challenges and successes of the early years.Bottom of Form

2: The Portfolio Career as a Strategy for Mitigating Risk

In an era where the traditional career path is giving way to more dynamic and flexible work arrangements, the concept of a Portfolio Career presents an attractive proposition for aspiring entrepreneurs wary of the risks associated with full-time entrepreneurship. This approach allows individuals to blend various income streams, leveraging diverse skills and interests to create a more resilient professional life.

Understanding the Portfolio Career

A Portfolio Career is essentially a career made up of multiple part-time jobs, freelance projects, and temporary positions, possibly combined with personal business ventures. This model offers not just variety and flexibility but also a way to mitigate risk by not relying on a single source of income.

Step 1: Identifying Complementary Skills and Interests

  • Exercise: List your skills, experiences, and passions. Next to each, note potential ways these could be monetized or developed into a business or freelance opportunity. This exercise helps in visualizing how various components of your portfolio might come together.

During the initial stages of founding Le VPN, I continued leveraging my expertise in digital marketing and strategy. This not only provided a financial buffer (when I occasionally consulted other businesses to generate a side income) but also enriched my understanding of diverse markets and business strategies, contributing to the growth and resilience of my startup.

Step 2: Balancing Commitments

  • Action Plan: Develop a time management plan that allocates specific hours to your employment, entrepreneurial venture, and any other roles in your portfolio. Consider the energy and focus each activity requires, and be realistic about what you can commit to each day or week.

The balance I found between my full-time commitment to Le VPN and my other professional engagements was crucial. It ensured that while I was fully invested in my startup, I also maintained other professional interests that could support my financial and career growth.

Step 3: Risk Mitigation through Diversification

  • Strategy Development: Analyze the potential risks associated with your startup and how your other professional activities can serve as a safety net. This could involve financial planning, skill development, or network expansion. The key is to ensure that each element of your portfolio supports and reinforces the others, creating a cohesive and robust professional identity.

My involvement in diverse projects alongside Le VPN acted as a risk buffer, ensuring that I had multiple avenues for professional growth and income. This diversified approach not only minimized financial risk but also provided valuable insights and networks that benefitted my entrepreneurial venture.

Adopting a Portfolio Career approach allows you to pursue your entrepreneurial ambitions within a structured, risk-managed framework. It enables you to explore business opportunities with the security of knowing you have other professional endeavors to fall back on. For aspiring entrepreneurs, this means you can invest in your business dream without sacrificing financial stability or professional development.

By carefully crafting a portfolio of complementary roles and ventures, you create a dynamic career path that is both resilient in the face of economic fluctuations and aligned with your personal and professional aspirations. This strategic diversification is not just about playing it safe; it’s about smartly navigating the entrepreneurial landscape with confidence and creativity.

3: Starting Small, Testing Ideas, and Gradually Expanding Comfort Zones of the Entrepreneurial Mind

In addressing risk aversion in entrepreneurship, one effective strategy stands out: starting small. This approach allows aspiring entrepreneurs to test their business ideas with minimal risk, providing valuable insights that can inform larger, more confident steps in the future. By focusing on incremental growth, you can gradually extend your entrepreneurial comfort zone, turning apprehension into actionable insight.

Step 1: Defining a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) for Low Risk Business Ideas

  • Exercise: Identify the core value proposition of your business idea. What is the smallest, simplest version of your product or service that you can offer to gauge customer interest and feedback? Sketch out this MVP, considering the resources you need to bring it to life.

This step was pivotal when launching Le VPN. We started with a basic yet functional version of our service to understand market demand without overextending our resources. This MVP approach allowed us to iteratively improve our offering based on real user feedback, minimizing financial and operational risks.

Step 2: Market Testing and Feedback Loop

  • Action Plan: Launch your MVP and closely monitor user engagement and feedback. Use social media platforms, surveys, and direct customer interactions to collect insights. Be prepared to iterate based on what you learn.

For us, every piece of customer feedback was a goldmine of information. It helped us refine our offerings and better understand our market’s needs, without making significant upfront investments. This feedback loop is crucial for mitigating risk by ensuring that your business evolves in direct response to customer demand.

Step 3: Gradual Expansion Based on Learned Insights

  • Strategy Development: With each iteration of your product or service, increase the scale of your operations incrementally. Consider expanding your marketing efforts, introducing new features, or exploring additional markets based on the validated learning from your MVP tests.

As Le VPN grew, so did our confidence in making bolder decisions. Each successful iteration of our service emboldened us to invest more in our operations, marketing, and expansion efforts. This gradual approach allowed us to expand our comfort zones methodically, ensuring that each risk we took was calculated and based on concrete data.

The journey of overcoming risk aversion in entrepreneurship doesn’t end with launching an MVP or even after the first successful market test. It’s an ongoing process of learning, iterating, and expanding. By starting small and focusing on incremental growth, you can build a strong foundation for your business, informed by real-world insights and bolstered by a deep understanding of your market.

This approach not only minimizes the risks associated with entrepreneurship but also turns the journey itself into a series of manageable steps rather than a daunting leap. As you continue to test, learn, and grow, you’ll find that your capacity for risk—and your entrepreneurial ambitions—expands alongside your business.

Remember, risk aversion in entrepreneurship isn’t about avoiding risks altogether but about managing them in a way that aligns with your goals, resources, and comfort level. By adopting a measured approach to business development, you can navigate the entrepreneurial landscape with confidence, turning your visions of success into reality.

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey with Confidence

Navigating the path of entrepreneurship, especially within the constraints of risk aversion, requires a blend of strategic planning, insight, and the courage to take calculated steps.

The journey we’ve embarked upon—evaluating personal risk tolerance, exploring the diversification of a Portfolio Career, and starting small to expand your comfort zones—highlights a pragmatic approach to realizing your entrepreneurial dreams while maintaining the security of your current role.

The concept of a Portfolio Career, in particular, represents a powerful paradigm shift in the Future of Work. It allows you to weave together different strands of your professional life into a cohesive and fulfilling career tapestry. This strategy not only mitigates the inherent risks of entrepreneurship but also enriches your professional journey with diverse experiences and skills.

However, understanding these concepts and putting them into practice are two different challenges. That’s why I’m inviting you to dive deeper into the world of Portfolio Careers and side businesses with my upcoming live free masterclass. This session is designed to equip you with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to start building your own business alongside your full-time job, turning risk aversion in entrepreneurship from a barrier into a stepping stone.

Join me in this comprehensive free class where we’ll explore real-life examples, practical strategies, and actionable insights on navigating the initial stages of your side business. Whether you’re still contemplating your first entrepreneurial venture or looking for ways to expand your existing business without forsaking your day job, this masterclass is your opportunity to learn how to balance ambition with prudence effectively.

Watch this free training and take the first step towards building a resilient, diversified, and fulfilling professional life that aligns with your entrepreneurial aspirations and risk tolerance.

Remember, the path to entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a leap into the unknown. With the right strategies, a clear understanding of your risk tolerance, and the versatility of a Portfolio Career, you can journey towards your business goals with confidence and security. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together. See you at the masterclass!


Hi, I'm Ksenia.
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I empower corporate professionals to take a leap into the entrepreneurship world or build a Portfolio career, by helping them uncover innovative business ideas and build profitable and resilient companies.
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