Starting a Company Is Not Risky

In Silicon Valley we have this notion of the entrepreneur as the lone hero. A risk taker who shoots for the moon and aims to knock the ball out of the park. A visionary, a dreamer, a jack-of-all-trades. In another time he would have been a discoverer of new continents, a warrior, an inventor, a heretic. I could keep the clichés going but I’ll save some for another post.

Obviously such one-in-a-million individuals need all the help they can get. They are misunderstood by the world, ignored, ostracized, ridiculed. They need inspirational quotes and self-help articles about the importance of sleep, how to overcome “schlep blindness“, or how to survive fundraising (tip: always have your light saber handy during VC meetings; they are often traps).

Of course this is organic fertilizer of the bovine kind. I’m sure I’m repeating myself, but I’m not a fan of the self-help trope that pervades startup blogs and communities. First off, I’d like to end the myth that starting a company in the Silicon Valley is a risky endeavor. Risky compared to what? What could happen to you? Fail and go back to working for the man. Boo-hoo. Welcome back to the 99%.

What is risky? Working in underground mines (in lots of ways, not just odds of dying). Climbing Everest. Being an astronaut. Touching an electric train line [warning: disturbing].

The risk of starting a company as opposed to working for someone else is some opportunity cost, and maybe a bruised ego. Sure, you can work yourself to death and destroy your relationships in the process. Only that’s not because of running a startup. That’s just being a workaholic.

The next time I hear an entrepreneur bragging about being a huge risk-taker I’ll invite him to play Russian Roulette against me. With a nerf gun, of course.

Rant mode off, back to work (blogging is too risky).

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