Career or Entrepreneur? Weighing Up The Risks


Dear Baybars,

I read on the Migrant Woman website about the How to Make Your First Million event at Regent’s University London, where you were the guest, but unfortunately I was unable to attend. I was sorry not to have been there to hear what you had to say and to ask you my question but if you could answer it in my letter to Migrant Woman magazine, I would be grateful.

I have been living in England since the age of 13, have a hard work ethic and been successful as a sales consultant for around ten years, to do with learning resources for schools. I have saved money from my commission earnings during that time for the future. I’m thinking now that this may be the right time to get out of a career job in a large company and to start my own business.

What holds me back is the risk in taking away a certain amount of security and doubts about if it is possible to make the change from a career to running my own business. I’ve heard the expression to do with nature and nurture and wonder which is more important to succeed as an entrepreneur?

My main question to you is this: Should I only stick with what I know and introduce new ideas as my own boss but competing against big companies, or do new research and turn to something completely different for a fresh start?


Minimise the risk and start by trying to sell your business idea to your boss

Baybars AltuntasDear Flavia,

The most important skill an entrepreneur should have is the sales skill. Because you are a sales consultant, this gives a very positive image to me that you have the potential to become successful entrepreneur. That said, you should consider, of course, the risks of leaving your job and starting a business.

While taking such a decision, the first question you should ask is what you might lose if you do not succeed. Generally, would-be-entrepreneurs first calculate what they will win, which is the wrong approach to initiate a business. If you can calculate your risk and see how you can put back what you lose, then it is logical to take this risk. But if you are not able to calculate it or do not have a ‘Plan B’ if everything goes south, then it is not logical to start it.

If I were in your shoes, I would develop a business model for my business idea. Then I would try to sell this business idea to my boss. Since you are a sales consultant, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to convince your boss to initiate this business by using the idle capacity of the company where you are currently working. So, develop a business idea that is initiated by using the idle capacity of the company you are working for. In this way, you can minimise your risk and start a business.

Career or Entrepreneur - The Pros and Cons
Baybars Altuntas: “If you can calculate your risk and see how you can put back what you lose, then it is logical”

What I advise you to do then is to move from this ‘intrapreneurship’ to entrepreneurship. First, try to execute your business idea within your present company. Try to test yourself, try to see if there is a demand for your product or service. After spending a reasonable amount of time in your company by trying to execute your business, decide if it is logical to leave your company. If it is, do it — or else stay and make your career there.

Baybars Altuntas

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