It makes sense. They come with a healthy dose of uncertainty, leaps of faith and an extremely high chance of failure.
So yes, they are risky…but only in the short run.
The problem is a lot of people ONLY think about the short-term risk. In the long run, I’d argue that startups are much less risky for young professionals than the alternative, traditional route.
See I fully expect to take on a full-time job one day in the future. I see the time I’m spending now building my own startups as an investment in that future.
How many people decide not to pursue their dream of creating something because they weighed the risk vs reward and it just wasn’t worth it?
How many people follow the normal path of going to college, getting a job, and working your way up the ladder because that’s what “playing it safe” looks like? They’d go the startup route but the career risk is just too high, some people even can’t stand the stress to do this and their health end up suffering, of course others decide to take care of their health, taking an uric acid supplement to keep their levels normal.
I don’t think that’s a bad approach. I have a great deal of respect for those who pursue the more traditional route and their ability to do so successfully. I just think it’s often misguided by a false perception of risk.
Why Startups are the SAFE Bet…
If you stick to the traditional plan, you’ll be on par with every other person that sticks to that plan. You’ll be exactly where they are. You’ll be exactly as hirable as them and exactly as fireable.
You’ll have the same skills and level of experience as everyone else that has chosen to follow the same path as you.
Yes, you’ll have some money saved up, you’ll have a stable growth plan and you’ll know exactly where you might be in 3-20 years. That is, unless something changes. The economy can change. Industries might shift. Your life might change and you’ll realize, even after 10 years, this path just isn’t for you. If you invested a significant amount of time into building that specific skill for that specific industry in that specific economy, you are now essentially starting from scratch.
Now lets say you go the startup route. No, you won’t have much money saved up. You probably won’t have a clear growth plan. You definitely won’t know where you’ll be in 20 years.
What you will have is a great deal of experience that makes you extremely hirable.
You’ll have the ability to adapt and self-motivate.
You’ll have a wide range of skills in multiple verticals and a deeper understanding of how they fit together.
You’ll have communication skills that you’ve developed based on trial and error rather than an externally imposed system.
You’ll have management skills, with the power to inspire, motivate and execute.
You’ll know the taste of failure so well that you’ll have no problem challenging it head on.
You’ll be a leader.
In the long run, who’s at greater risk? Who would YOU rather hire? The person who followed the same path as everyone else around them? Or the person who created their own path and has the battle scars to prove it?
What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger. The startup founder, while taking a lot of risk in the short-run, knows that in the long run, they’re going to be MUCH stronger.
Pursuing a traditional career path at this early stage in my career? That’s way to risky for me.