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Startups are far less risky than traditional employment

By Todd Sullivan on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Travel PartnersThis is a guest article from an iPitch member, Todd Sullivan. He is Co-Founder of Globetrooper.com, a social platform for people wanting to travel the globe together.

There are countless studies, debates and blog posts that suggest it takes a large risk appetite to even consider launching a startup. To the average person, it seems completely irrational to leave a stable job for the remote chance of entrepreneurial success. Yet, despite these observations, the startup scene is alive and flourishing (just look at the popularity of iPitch). So why do entrepreneurs continue to take these seemingly excessive risks?

Risk is subjective; we don’t all value the same risk factors equally. For example, many people wouldn’t travel to Afghanistan due to the ensuing war. But others, rightly or wrongly, couldn’t bare to pass up the opportunity because they see a nation of invaluable lessons and cultural treasures. We could write an entire book debating the two viewpoints, but that would be futile because we’d be debating the essence of human nature.

The same goes for startups. There’s no denying that leaving stable employment places pressure on income. But just like the previous analogy, people place different levels of importance on different risk factors. Some are terrified by the potential loss of income, while others can’t bear the thought of passing up opportunity. And that was certainly my experience.

After conceiving the concept of a social travel platform, I never once hesitated for lack of employment or income. But that doesn’t mean I had a large appetite for risk. Quite the contrary, I was more risk averse than ever. But my focus wasn’t on what might go wrong, it was on the risk of not making the most of what was standing right in front of me.

And that’s the clincher, you simply cannot buy back time.┬áNo matter how likely or unlikely you are to succeed, time spent is time spent forever. That’s why I wholeheartedly believe startups are less risky than traditional employment.┬áBecause even if it goes so badly that you need to search the streets for food and shelter, at least you’ll know you tried. Which is something you’ll never be able to say otherwise. And for me, the risk of that is much more terrifying than the risk of losing an esoteric job title.

Todd will continue to share his startup experience as Globetrooper.com matures. This is his fourth business venture, but first product-only startup. He previously worked with other startup founders as a private equiteer and software engineer.

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