Business ventures are a vital part of the economy. For the individual entrepreneur there is the potential to fulfill their dreams and become financially independent. Over time, we have seen entrepreneurial businesses grow into powerhouses, but also seemingly successful businesses down the drain. An interesting observation is that successful business entrepreneurs sometimes feel unhappy and even depressed. This case study highlights the various risks and rewards some of these entrepreneurs experience (names are fictitious).

When everything goes wrong

Eric was in his mid-forties when a business opportunity presented itself. He was an accountant by profession and held a position of responsibility in a medium-sized company. He was offered a new franchise in the auto industry in another city. The opportunity was too good to ignore. Eric quit, sold his house, and took the money to start the business.

The franchise did not turn out as promised. The franchisor was not very honest and Eric was not an entrepreneur at heart. He was passionate about cars, but not about their more technical aspects. In the end, the following potential risks were realized and had serious consequences:

  • Social risk. When Eric and his wife left town, they left behind their support structure and circle of friends. He worked long hours to build the business. Regular, enjoyable weekend socials were a thing of the past. Their teenage daughter also had serious problems that they found difficult to cope with.
  • Financial risk. Eventually the business collapsed and Eric was declared bankrupt. At this stage he was in his early fifties.
  • Career risk. Eric quit a good job with a good pension fund. When everything turned sour, he tried to go back to his old law firm. There were no vacancies. He took a lower-paying job as an operations manager at a small business company.
  • Psychological risk. Eventually, a lot of things went wrong with Eric. He got divorced, he is very bitter today and often comments that he needs to work until the day of his death.

It’s worth it?

Jack was in his mid-thirties when he and his associates had the opportunity to make a purchase from the management of the manufacturing company they worked for. Over the past seven years, they have managed to stop the company from making a loss for a company that is doing exceptionally well. Outsiders would say this is the ideal situation to be in. Jack is experiencing the following reward:

  • Financial rewards. Jack became a million dollar dollar. He always lived within his means and he and his family can easily earn a living without him needing to work another day in his life.

Unfortunately, Jack also finds himself caught in a cheat 22 situation. He feels that the price he pays for financial rewards is too high. He often expresses the following negative impacts on his life:

  • Social risks. Jack had spent so much time out of the country that he separated from his friends and family. He feels that he was not there for his father when he passed away on one of these trips. You also feel that your children are growing up and you are not there to experience it.
  • Psychological risks. Jack finds it difficult to balance his work situation and his personal life. At this stage he has a serious problem of depression. Fortunately, his colleagues support him exceptionally well and have formulated a plan for all of them to leave the business in the near future.

The fruits of success

Marc is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business in his early twenties two decades ago. He is very ambitious, made several mistakes and went bankrupt twice. Six years ago he started a business in a niche area of ​​real estate development. He has an absolute passion for this line of business and in a short time it became a great success. He enjoys his success very much and believes that all the hard work and risks were worth it. Experience your rewards as follows:

  • Financial rewards. Marc is worth several million dollars and he used enough of this money to give him a passive income that provides him and his family with a life of luxury.
  • Social rewards. Marc was always a very sociable person and managed to keep his social life intact. Today he enjoys much of his social activities with friends on trips abroad and at his vacation farm and beach house.
  • Onfrompencilfromrewards nce. Marc always enjoyed being his own boss. He often said that he would rather sleep in a park than work for someone else. In the end, this attitude and determination paid off.
  • Growth rewards. On a personal level, Marc took the opportunity to grow as a person. He learned to fly, he studied a lot to improve himself and people respect him in all walks of life.
  • Contribution rewards. The ultimate reward is the ability to give. Marc is giving a large part of his time and money to charity.


Having your own business can really be the best thing you can do (for yourself and others). However, it is very important to look at it objectively and make sure it fits your personality and risk profile. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. The potential rewards must be balanced against the potential risks.

Copyright © 2008 – Wim Venter

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