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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Know Your Tolerance for Risk

The size a business grows to is related to the amount and type of risk the founder is willing to take.

Key Question:


Only if you are willing to shoulder the risk alone.  This doesn't mean you have to do everything alone.  It means that the risk will always come back to you and your bank account.

Search for more on the topic of startup.

Think about it

Are you willing to make a list of the business owners you know and then ask each of them to talk to you about your ideas for going into business?

Clip from: PC Flowers & Gifts

Stamford, Connecticut:  Bill Tobin has always risen to a challenge. He's always been an entrepreneur. When FTD Florist told him to go away, he began looking to find a way to take over. He said, "I had to do it. I had to do it. Everybody said it couldn't be done. Everybody said, `It won't work.' "

When this episode of the show was taped, Bill Tobin was selling more flowers than any one person in the world. He started PC Flowers and Gifts in 1989 and by 1996 he had become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in cyberspace. Though he sold the business to Figis, he continues to leverage his knowledge with strategic cyber partners throughout the world.  
Among other things Bill established over 2,700 co-branded web sites. In 2000, Bill was awarded a patent for web co-branding protocols. 

Opportunity Knocks

Jim Schell, Founder / CEO

PO Box 9073
Bend, OR 97708
541 317 9490

Visit our web site:

Office: 541 317 9490

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1999

Know Your Tolerance for Risk

HATTIE: Here's Jim Shell, our veteran, to define entrepreneurship and explain to you why some small business owners succeed and some fail.

Tell me, Jim, what is your definition of an entrepreneur?

JIM SHELL: I'll start off by telling you what Webster's is. His definition of an entrepreneur is someone who takes a risk for profit. And I think that Webster's full of baloney.

HATTIE: Oh, really?

JIM: My definition of an entrepreneur is someone who chooses to seek opportunities without having to depend on someone else.


JIM: You and I have talked about this before, Hattie. You know that I think people that really take risk or someone who has to depend on somebody else for a paycheck, that's risk, that and bungee-jumping.

HATTIE: OK. Well, so is there a difference between someone who's self-employed, the small business owner and an entrepreneur then?

JIM: Yeah. Here's what--I think that an entrepreneur is someone who starts a business with the intent of growing it, as opposed to someone who starts a business with the intent of subsisting.

HATTIE: So when you use the word `entrepreneur,' can we assume that you're also talking to the self-employed person and a small business owner?

JIM: Whatever his motives are. It's a motive issue. It isn't what he's doing, it's why he's doing it.

HATTIE: All right, let's elaborate more on the word `risk.' You're saying that it's a greater risk to work for someone else than it is to work for yourself.

JIM: Mm-hmm.

HATTIE: But someone who's had a paycheck for 20, 30 years, I don't know if they can grasp what you're saying. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

JIM: Well, for one thing, if they've been getting a paycheck for 20 or 30 years, that's probably going to stop as...

HATTIE: Great.

JIM: We probably, `we' being people who own and manage our own small businesses, are on the cutting edge of where the world's going. The days of Ma Bell are over.

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