Are You Ready For Some Entrepreneurial Risk?


The World Business Forumjust blew through New York and much of the talk centered around this Inflection Point we’re all experiencing.

We are in the middle of the worst economic conditions in almost eight decades. On top of that, we’re in the midst of a shift from a knowledge-based service economy to something else (one speaker called it “The Creativity Economy”). Finally, many of our industries have been ravaged by technology or by foreign competition.

Renowned business strategist Gary Hamel told the Forum that modern-day managers must do three things: challenge dogma; explore the fringe; and experiment. David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group had lots of similar advice for business leaders: focus on areas that are likely to grow; improve your skills of persuasion; and, take some entrepreneurial risk in your career.


I like that last one a lot: entrepreneurial risk.

The dictionary says an entrepreneur is someone who creates value by offering a product or service, by carving out a niche in the market that may not exist currently. Entrepreneurs tend to identify a market opportunity and exploit it by organizing their resources effectively to accomplish an outcome that changes existing interactions within a given sector.

Generally, the term is applied to leading a business, but it’s worth thinking the same way about your career. Have you exploited a market opportunity in the talent department? Do you understand your own leverage in terms of what you are best at – what you are special at? And are you willing and able to take the risks necessary to really move forward and take advantage of any inflection point in your industry or the economy?

Experts talk pretty regularly and freely about risk-taking.

Talk is cheap.

Risk can be expensive, which is why they call it risk.

You have to be willing to lose something to gain something in an entrepreneurial situation – and that’s true of taking entrepreneurial risk in your career. Often it means taking a step or two backward in title, or more likely, income. But the payoff can be enormous – and ultimately “safer” than playing it safe – and standing still career-wise.

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Erik Sorenson is CEO of Vault, the Web’s most comprehensive resource for career management and job search intelligence. Vault provides top talent with the insider information they need to make critical career decisions. An Emmy award-winning media industry veteran, Erik served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel through 2004. His experience spans radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Web.

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