Risk, Reward, Entrepreneurs and the Self-Employed Fathers Quandary

Positive pregnancy test
This changes everything!

Lately I’ve become acutely aware of gauging risk in potential business activities. While evaluating risk has always been part of my decision making process, my willingness to take less informed risks (not my willingness to take risks) has been tempered by the knowledge that I will be a dad soon (early August).

Independent consulting can be a risky business. Work isn’t always guaranteed. You have to be a jack of all trades –  accounting, coffee boy, trash can emptier, designer, marketer, public speaker, toilet cleaner… You rarely work 40 hours a week (which is a drain on your family life), unless you happen to miss a few days being ill. You don’t get paid time off. Things you take for granted from employers, such as health insurance, become almost prohibitively expensive. The list goes on and on.

Frankly it’s easy to see why so many people don’t start their own business. Sometimes the deck really is stacked against you.

But then there’s the other side – there’s the rewards. Honestly the list of rewards is way shorter that the list of drawbacks, but I guess it takes a certain kind of personality to start a business, and for those people the rewards are enough.

Being able to take pride in what you’ve accomplished, built and achieved. Pride, self-satisfaction, accomplishment – those are perhaps the most important rewards. Many business will fail without ever making a penny, but real entrepreneurs will still look back and find something to be proud of that will make it all worth while. Many times that is simply that “I tried”, which is more than some folks ever will do.

There is, of course, the potential financial gain but it’s always a risk. Even the most well thought out idea can end up being shuttered for a million reasons that are beyond your control, but sometimes it pays off.

Obviously this is a dilemma that I found myself devoting many mental processing cycles to this week.

Without going into too many details, I was contacted (did not apply) and asked to come interview for a position as the Digital Media Manager of a television news station.

The position of DMM is a great gig, with a lot of potential for advancement as the station was part of a much larger media group, and the money’s not bad either!

I’m rather honored that they would even consider approaching me for the position, and this time last year I would have jumped at the opportunity in a heartbeat. I’d have been all over it quicker than a fat kid eating a Snickers bar.

This year it certainly gave me pause for some serious thought. A stable paycheck that is not dependent upon client retention and client base growth would certainly be a huge weight off my mind.

“Stability” – you have no idea how beautiful that word sounds to a man who’s recently found out he’s going to be a father.

But that paycheck would be a step down on what I currently earn. Bummer!

While there’s potential to advance as DMM (and it would look rather spiffy on my resume), there’s vast potential in what I currently do, and I’m so very excited by the impact my work is having for my clients.

Plus there’s so much opportunity to grow my business and have more clients. In fact, the opportunity is potentially only limited by my desire to create solutions.

And that is where I found myself this week – attempting to weigh up risks and rewards, stability vs earning potential, and all with not just my financial well-being in mind, but the financial well-being of my wife and unborn child.

I guess these are questions that every entrepreneur faces unless they are already quite wealthy, and these questions have a far keener edge when you have others that rely on you.

After evaluating and talking things over with Sara, I’ve opted to stick to the riskier but  potentially more rewarding path of longer hours, harder work and making clients happy.

I have to admit that I love work that is satisfying on creative, intellectual and technical levels, while providing a roller-coaster feeling of encountering new challenges daily.

I know that my our decision wouldn’t be the right course for everybody, but most decisions rarely are.