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There is a popular conception that successful entrepreneurs are risk takers. However, the opposing view is that entrepreneurs actually succeed by minimizing risk.
Many people believe that a good idea can lie at the heart of a new business. However, many successful entrepreneurs believe that there's no shortage of creative ideas, and that a good idea is of little value in comparison to the execution required to commercialize that idea. Furthermore, they view the overemphasis on good ideas as a factor in the failure of making good ideas a reality.
The success rates for entrepreneurs are notoriously low. Furthermore, the reasons for their failure often seem quite predictable. This would seem to indicate that the typical entrepreneur, if they rationally assessed their business endeavor, would be better off being an employee.
As the United States entered a recession in 2008, many companies faced bankruptcy. The US Government has bailed out several financial firms, justifying the bailouts on the grounds that such firms are "too big to fail" and would pull down the rest of the economy if they were allowed to go bust. The same argument is now being used to justify bailing out the American auto industry, augmented with the argument of job preservation.
In the wake of music piracy, authors fear that ebooks will be next.
Peak oil refers to the time when global oil extraction reaches its maximum. From that point on, oil will become increasingly scarce, and the world will have to adapt to new energy sources.
Jeff Stibel
Frankly, entrepreneurism is a very difficult and unpredictable way to make a living. It is often binary: either you make more money than your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren will know what to do with; or you go broke. Most entrepreneurs fail miserably. If you want to guarantee a good living — one that will offer you a successful, stable career and a nice inheritance for your kids — listen to your mother and become a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson.
Robin Hanson
Much of the value in investing, or entrepreneurship, comes from an option value that is impossible to quantify... I suspect every novice investor is somewhat overconfident, and too many people invest recklessly... But there is a method to the madness, because... [overconfidence] offsets the general underappreciation of the option-value of investing on one’s career, where you can provide a variety of auxiliary services in finance, and risk-taking is part of the application process.
Garrett Camp
First of all, that working with friends and people you trust is the best situation you can be in with a new business. And second, that it all starts with a great idea and teamwork. ... A great product is absolutely the most important thing–there’s just no getting around that. That may seem obvious, but I think there are a lot of startups out there that focus so much on business plans and IPOs and exit strategies that the idea itself takes second place. ...
Forbes Magazine
...entrepreneurs, politicians, athletes and show-business types ...all support the same conclusion: The best results come to those willing to take a chance--an important reminder for entrepreneurs, financiers and political leaders as the global economy braces for even rougher weather. ... [Illustratingly, one of the most impressive entrepreneurs we talked to said his greatest risk was] the time he mustered the courage to board an unknown, unsaddled horse.
Malcolm Gladwell
The truly successful businessman, in Villette and Vuillermot’s telling, is anything but a risk-taker. He is a predator, and predators seek to incur the least risk possible while hunting. Would we so revere risk-taking if we realized that the people who are supposedly taking bold risks in the cause of entrepreneurship are actually doing no such thing?
Nicholas Carroll
One of the most common misperceptions about successful startups is that successful entrepreneurs are risk-takers. Actually, they take risks from necessity, because it comes with the territory. By personal inclination, successful entrepreneurs are risk-minimizers.
Dennis Fong
Ideas are a dime a dozen. I don't think I've honestly thought of a unique idea in a very very long time if ever. Most ideas people have talked about thousands of times over. .... Maybe it's somewhat unique in that space but if you look in another space there's something almost exactly like it. It always makes me laugh... ...when I hear someone saying "I thought of ebay 15 years ago". ... The one thing that defines an entrepreneur is that they're the one who goes and do it...
Steve Ballmer
There's really four stages to business. 1: I invent something. 2: I get something to critical mass. 3: I milk it like heck when it's at critical mass. 4: I create a culture in which I can do '1' again. ... Great companies end up having to be all four. Most companies don't get out of '1'. ... Entrepreneurship is about all four parts of the cycle. Google's in the '3' phase. That was the 90s for is [Microsoft].

New Comments

0 Points       blacktrance       10 Feb 2011     Should the US Government bail out car companies? Disagree
The government should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. If a company is going to fail, let it fail. The taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing industry.

0 Points       the27th       09 May 2010     Is peak oil imminent? Mostly Disagree
When oil becomes scarce, the price will rise. We won't run out of oil; it will become expensive enough that we're forced to conserve and use alternatives.

0 Points       the27th       09 May 2010     Should the US Government bail out car companies? Mostly Disagree
Probably not. Why cars and not something else? It favors one sector over another, which is likely inefficient.

1 Point       Joe       12 Apr 2010     Is the quality of the idea a key factor in entrepreneurial success? Neutral
I would suggest that a good idea is necessary but not sufficient - in other words, it's just a small part of what's needed for a successful business. And even if ideas are a dime a dozen, you need to invest in the right one.

1 Point       JGWeissman       06 Mar 2010     Are successful entrepreneurs big risk takers? Neutral
Success requires good risk management. This involves an ability to accurately assess how likely a risk is to pay off, and to consider the costs and the potential payoff. Systematically successful entrepreneurs Shut Up and Multiply.

1 Point       Joe       01 Feb 2010     Are successful entrepreneurs big risk takers? Disagree
Sometimes entrepreneurs get famous for taking one big make-or-break risk - that made it for them. These are the newsworthy risks that you hear about and popularize the (mis)conception that successful entrepreneurs are big risk takers.

0 Points       Kath       08 Jul 2009     Will ebook piracy hurt authors? Agree
Ebook piracy definitely hurts authors, and I completely disagree with it being a "crowning jewel of accomplishment" to be pirated from. It's no more complimentary than someone breaking into your house and stealing your TV.

I am an author being directly affected by this issue. Piracy has nothing to do with reaching a broader audience, or building a following, since the ebooks are already available online for a global market. This is about people wanting something for free, and going to extreme lengths to get it without paying. Then, not merely satisfied that they got it and read it for free, they put it up on a site to give away to others. It is stealing, plain and simple. And, yes, it definitely hurts authors financially.

You take an ebook author who makes $300.00 the first month for a book's release, and then the book makes it up on 3 torrent sites within a few weeks of that release - the next month's royalties arrive and are less than $25.00. People who steal the books clearly do not go back and buy what they have taken. So the tip theory is not something you can hold to. However, it does sometimes mean that at the next new release from that author, you'll see that person's books on a torrent site being asked for much faster. How is this helpful to an author? Plain and simple: it isn't.

1 Point       Ivo Salmre       25 Jan 2009     Should the US Government bail out car companies? Disagree
Sadly the automakers are doomed as “viable entities” – (this is not to say that they will disappear; federal money can prop up all manner of inefficient entities; a classic US example being its national passenger rail Amtrak which loses money on the gross majority of its routes and provides little actual societal benefits that could not easily be subcontracted to, say, bus service). Fundamentally the automakers are at the center of several glacial forces/trends that they simply cannot overcome…

…too many cars are currently being produced

…their technology base is hopelessly outdated (inflexible, large volume manufacture)

…they are not masters of the next generation of technology (e.g. no reason to believe they are the right people to build high capacity batteries or electric motors; why not a new firm that is actually specialized in these things?)

…they are saddled with fixed costs and obligations (e.g. large retiree base, rigid workforce rules)

Far better to rapidly enter bankruptcy and salvage what can be salvaged. Far worse to consume massive bailout resources in a futile effort to prop up the horse-and-buggy industry. Government subsidy rarely produces efficiency.

New Editorial Comments

0 Points       jenifferjones       21 Sep 2012     Are successful entrepreneurs big risk takers? Editorial Comment

Business Question Index

Would the typical entrepreneur be better off as an employee?
Are successful entrepreneurs big risk takers?
Is the quality of the idea a key factor in entrepreneurial success?
Is peak oil imminent?
Should the US Government bail out car companies?
Are world championship boxing matches frequently rigged?
Will Bear Stearns go bankrupt?
Will ebook piracy hurt authors?
Is Steve Ballmer an effective CEO?
Will Blu-ray prevail over HDDVD as the high definition video format?
Will ebooks hurt publishers?
Do software patents stifle innovation?