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Billionaire CEO Steve Schwarzman: Don't start a business

If you ask billionaire Steve Schwarzman if you should start your own company, he'll probably say no.

The CEO and co-founder of private equity firm Blackstone says it's not smart for younger workers to break away from major corporations to start their own businesses. Especially not in the finance world.

"If you're going to start a business, it's different in finance than it is in the tech world," he tells Yahoo Finance. "In the tech world, starting something and failing isn't great, but it's not horrible. In finance, when you fail, you end up losing a lot of people's money, and they're not happy about it, and they remember it. So the key is, Don't fail."

Schwarzman believes that experience is an invaluable tool necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. But that can only be developed over time. While starting a business at any point involves risk, the wisdom that comes with age can help minimize it.

"It's not for 22-year-olds or 26-year-olds," he says. "I've watched over my career really gifted people who are 26 saying, 'I want to go out and start my own business.' And I said, 'You haven't seen enough bad things yet. You don't have a really sophisticated understanding of risk and things that can go wrong that could really hurt you.'"

It's easy to understand the appeal of becoming an entrepreneur: You get to follow your passion, be your own boss and break away from corporate bureaucracy.

And that path is becoming increasingly common. In 2016, 6.1 percent of U.S. job seekers started their own businesses. Today, nearly 9.8 of the total workforce is self-employed, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But Schwarzman isn't the only successful entrepreneur cautioning being a founder is not for everyone. Marcus Lemonis, a self-made millionaire and the star of CNBC's "The Partner," warns that many would-be business owners don't understand the work and sacrifice it takes to go from idea to reality.

"The thing this country and maybe other countries don't understand enough about the small business entrepreneur is that you are not just risking your money. You essentially make sacrifices," Lemonis told the audience at the SXSW Festivals and Conferences in 2017.

"You lose relationships, spouses, you get divorced," he said. "Your relationships with your kids aren't what they should be. Your relationship with your faith aren't necessarily what they should be. Your relationship with your neighbors aren't what they could or should be."

Although starting a business might sound like freedom, in practice it can entail a lot of responsibility that falls directly on your shoulders.

That echoes Schwarzman's point: "If you make a complete mess of it, what you find is that most people don't want you back and you're out there."

"I'm not trying to be discouraging because I did this," he adds. "But but I'm trying to be responsible and sober about it."

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