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Risky Business

Startup and risk go hand in hand. But how much is too much?

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This story appears in the July 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

From the chutes and ladders of day trading to extreme sports that stretch the limit of health-insurance policies, Americans are more fascinated with risk now than ever before. Even the current crop of game shows lure players into gambling away the thousands of dollars they won only moments before. It's no wonder, then, that entrepreneurs are gaining admiration and attention.

Long perceived as the biggest risk-takers of them all (besides, perhaps, bungee-jumpers and skydivers), entrepreneurs tread a less-traveled path, eschewing steady paychecks and regular hours for a more exciting brew of financial possibilities, personal satisfaction and self-owned business success. Like vacationers on their last day in Vegas, they're tempted to bet it all for a shot at the big money-but too much risk, just like not enough, can sink a company before it ever gets off the ground. How can you walk the thin line and manage risk instead of having it manage you? For starters, experts and entrepreneurs agree, the first thing to watch isn't your financial statement, but your level of personal comfort.

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