Lottery vs. Entrepreneur – Same Risk?

The mega lottery media tsunami is back and bigger than ever with more than half a billion $dollars$ riding on the Mega Millions wave. Proponents of the lottery system might say this is a perfect way to raise state revenue. It’s voluntary unlike other forms of tax. Opponents might say the lottery is a fool’s game, preying on those least likely to have money to lose.

In my public relations business, I work to reduce another form of financial risk for new start-up companies. So, what’s the difference between playing the lotto and investing in an entrepreneurial start-up company? Certainly both are high risk…but, are they?

You can do little to increase your odds of winning the lotto except buy more tickets.  The chance of winning this latest Mega Millions jackpot is somewhere in the universe of 1 in 176 million. I have much better odds of becoming the next president…hhmmm, there’s a thought.

By contrast, Somewhere near 1 in 5 new businesses are still in business four years from start-up. Also, sharp entrepreneurs can take direct action to mitigate risk at several levels. Best entrepreneurial practices emerging from the “Dot Bomb” bubble and savvy investors greatly increase the chance for success. Some of my favorites include Nail It Then Scale It and Business Model Generation.

Both the lotto and the start-up require you to dream BIG! Only one allows you to do this while keeping dreams in the realm of reality with your feet planted firmly on the ground.  Yes, plenty of folks are unsuited for running a business, but if a 65 year old man with a white beard and suit can emerge from a failed business to dominate the fried chicken market in his silver years (Colonel Sanders) far more US citizens have the potential for greatness in business.

Both create jobs…but, do they?

Small businesses account for 65% of the new jobs in the past 17 years. And, small business become big businesses like those that dominate the employer skyline on Utah’s Silicon Slopes where I live (ie. Adobe, Novell, Security Metrics, Adobe, Symantec, TNI, Xango, Little Giant, US Synthetic, Sundance, Fusion-IO, BlendTec, Mozy…).

You may also note that the #1 state for economic stability is not listed among the 40+ follower states supporting the Mega Millions machine. However, it is rated at the top of the list for growing successful entrepreneurial start-ups.

So, at PilmerPR and in my adjunct position teaching entrepreneurs at Utah Valley University, I’ll keep my money on the gutsy entrepreneur.

About the Author:

As founder of PilmerPR, John Pilmer, APR serves as a PR and marketing communications advisor for both emerging and established companies. He offers customers more than 20 years of results-driven business PR and marketing experience. John and the firm have provided PR consultation and campaigns for clients such as Mozy, Novell, AdvancedMD, Certiport, NextPage, ElectraTherm, Altiris, Avamar, EmergeCore Networks, FSLogic, INVISUS, 10x Marketing, MWI, Project Insight, REIC, Seastone, US Synthetic and Funding Universe (now Lendio), among others.
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