Risk: The One-Word Oxymoron

December 11th, 2010 by | Print


Today, I was editing a book for a customer and I decided to use the dictionary to help with inspiration for some synonyms for the word “risk”.

Although I knew it from experience, after reading the definition, it struck me how “risk” is one of the few words (possibly the only one, but I’m not going to spend my time reading through the dictionary to confirm) that has synonyms that are antonyms.

Risk is the one-word oxymoron. Typically, an oxymoron requires using two or more opposing words to create a new concept, but risk handles it on its own.

Here’s how dictionary.com defines risk:

Main Entry:                         risk

Part of Speech:                 noun

Definition:                           chance taken

Synonyms:                          accident, contingency, danger, exposedness, exposure, flyer, fortuity, fortune, gamble, hazard, header, jeopardy, liability, liableness, luck, openness, opportunity, peril, plunge, possibility, prospect, shot in the dark, speculation, stab, uncertainty, venture, wager

As you can see, it is both peril and possibility, danger and opportunity, jeopardy and fortune.

Which definition of “risk” fits your solopreneur venture? If you are thinking, “I don’t take risks … ”, then you aren’t in business. Risk is unavoidable. All business is a risk. However, you make choices and take actions that determine what synonym of risk applies to your situation.

Think of it this way. Traveling on your journey of “risk” (i.e. business), you come to a fork in the road. One path ventures off into peril, danger, and jeopardy. The other path leads to possibility, opportunity, and fortune. However, from where you’re standing, both paths look the same. How do you choose?

At the fork, there is a sign with a couple of riddles. The answers to the riddles will tell you which path is which. Do you stop and read the sign and work out the riddles or do you choose to go with your gut and figure out which path is which as you go along?

Most solopreneurs go with their gut. They blow right past working out the riddles and forge ahead figuring the head start will give them the best advantage to reaching their goal of success quickly. This is why most solopreneurs fail. They run out of time and money struggling on the clogged path of peril, danger, and jeopardy.

The riddles are introspection, research and planning.

When you had the inspiration to start your solopreneur career, did you simply focus on the hot opportunity in the market and started chasing after the perceived profits? Or did you take the time to review your strengths / weaknesses, your likes / dislikes, your experience, your personal, professional and financial goals and apply your answers to a business idea? Most solopreneurs blow past introspection because they already think they know themselves. However, I can tell you from experience that people fall into habits. They pursue what they know … even if they hated doing it before or failed at it. Sounds silly, but it’s true. Taking time for a little introspection goes a long way in clarifying what are strong possible businesses to pursue.

Did you do any research before you opened for business? Did you try to get to know your prospects and what pains / desires, needs / wants they had? Research is one riddle that scares many solopreneurs. They don’t know what questions to ask. They don’t know where to find the answers. They’re afraid of what they might find. The reality is, if you dread the research, chances are you’ll dread the business. If you have multiple passions, research will help determine which passions are best as hobbies and which have the opportunity to produce income.

Planning is the second dreaded riddle. Like research, most solopreneurs don’t know how to create a plan or how much planning is necessary. How do you know where you are going or if you are getting anywhere if you don’t have a plan. Most solopreneurs will spend more time planning a vacation than for their business. Why?

Before you get started or if you have already launched your solopreneur startup, take the time to solve the riddles of introspection, research and planning. It will put you on the path of possibility, opportunity, and fortune.

Don’t know how? Contact me. I’m here to guide you.

All the Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


2 Responses to “Risk: The One-Word Oxymoron”

  1. Jenni P Says:

    Really nicely put Doug.

    I agree about the risk factor and wonder how many people are not equipped emotionally to take risks.

    As for the riddles, yes, guilty m’lud.
    I get started with plans and then end up thinking I’d be better doing than planning…

    Research is indipensable. Introspection is ongoing!

    Thanks for prodding!:)

  2. Douglas Dolan Says:

    Thanks for the compliments, Jenni. Those that are potentially emotional ill-equipped to take risk can improve their odds through education … which is what introspection, research and planning are all about. It’s about taking educated gambles. While there are some people that choose to follow the lead of another as an employee, there are still others that have that desire to be their own boss and follow their passions, but simply don’t know how. That’s a big reason why you and I do what we do, right?

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