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Steve Baxter, Founder of River City Labs

Fear not; it’s risky business but not as hard as you think says Steve Baxter of start-up hub River City Labs

Some might argue that ‘business’ is synonymous with risk; and in many ways, it is. But what of it?

“If you ever want to achieve the life you’ve always dreamed of, you’ll have to start taking positive, calculated risks.

“The benefits of taking risks will enrich your life and make your business or career much more rewarding. (Stacia Pierce, www.huffingtonpost.com)

Sure, there are plenty of individuals who find fulfilment in the form of a secure, predictable and risk-free lifestyle, but there are scores of business-minded thrill-seekers out there waiting to be coaxed out of their shell. Dynamic Business spoke to Steve Baxter, entrepreneur, investor and founder of Brisbane based start-up hub, River City Labs, to find out what restrains these budding entrepreneurs from following their instincts.

‘It’s never as hard as you might think at first’

According to Steve, financial risk, fear of the unknown and self doubt, are three of the top reasons why repressed entrepreneurs hesitate to ‘take the plunge.’

“Things do not get easier as you acquire the real reasons for living – a family for example, but many find themselves looking at not just a great idea they want to exploit but also a life partner and dependants. These are great things but have a real cost of ownership.”

“It does create a sense of fear, but it also creates a sense of the unknown and of excitement. It’s never as hard as you might think at first, but it is necessary to plan your start-up carefully.”

‘It has been ingrained in us to fear failure’

And this fear of failure, Steve contends, is cultural. While some of the world’s most successful and experienced entrepreneurs might be able to cite a portfolio of failed businesses alongside their many successes, it would appear that we are still a little slow on the uptake. To name one of the most noteworthy, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has seen as many as 14 businesses fail since the venture, now one of the world’s largest business empires, was first conceived.

Once again –  in many ways business is synonymous with risk, ‘but what of it?’

Steve said “it has been ingrained in us to fear failure but a cultural shift is slowly but surely taking place to reverse this thinking so it is not looked down upon.”

“We need to change our culture around this and I believe with governments now actively supporting the start-up and entrepreneurial culture, we are finally starting to see this change for the better.

‘Attitude has improved– entrepreneur was a dirty word not so many years ago’

As the fate of many traditional industries hangs in the balance, the lure towards traditional employment certainly appears to be lessening as opportunity knocks in an age of disruption.

“Attitude has improved– entrepreneur was a dirty word not so many years ago.

“Startups are finally becoming sexy and I believe we will start to see more young people having a go,” said Steve.

With greater government support and a notable cultural shift underway, the excuses for holding back on that long deliberated start-up idea are indeed eroding.

“The capital requirement for businesses now is so much smaller than it used to be,” said Steve.

“The ubiquity of the cloud hosting; comprehensive programing frameworks; platforms offering payments, marketing, communications or similar as a service and online advertising or traffic generation means that none of this has to be built from scratch any longer.

“So far as help along the way – the start-up scene as we know it didn’t exist 10 years ago in Australia. There has never been a better time to start a business. It seems like there is a new co-working space or start-up accelerator popping up every other day,” he said.

‘You need a plan before launching your business, but it’s important to prepare for change’

So you have an idea and you’ve quashed that fear of failure; but how do you know when to draw a line under those plans and bite the bullet? It’s all about balance according to Steve. Steve comments that you need a plan before launching your business, but it’s important to prepare for change.

“Even in traditional business you will dodge and weave your way to success doing something that may not have been in the original plan,” said Steve.

“Just remember – no business plan survives first contact with the customer.”

The underlying message from Steve is plain: purge the fears and ‘take that plunge.’ However, whether or not you will achieve the life you’ve always dreamed of by taking risks; that is a question for the individual.

Steve said “have the right mindset going in, if you want stability and easy – stay in the public service!”

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Daniel Jacobs

Daniel Jacobs

Daniel Jacobs was editor of Dynamic Business.

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