Bottom line: Does the current economy mean it's a bad time to take a risk? I have a line from a network buddy on a new job in my company. But some people in the company don't think the initiative will/can succeed. My heart says go for it. That little nagging voice says "your boss won't be happy" so there is no going back... :( ...but it's my career and sometimes you need to take chances to break out of the mold.

I'm in a smaller metro and so other opportunities can be hard to come by. In two years, I could move but not right now. So, do I leave a "safe" job (of managing a team developing a product) that I like but don't love? I'm not sure the kind of problems I'm solving and my boss is solving are what I really want to do.

When I heard about this new job, the immediate thought was that I would LOVE that job. But if the economy crashes or it doesn't work, it is more vulnerable. (The new job is working with large customers to help them solve issues, help the company understand their problems, pull together groups and get them to work together, etc.)

My spouse says go for it. A coworker expressed concern that this initiative will fly and could be cut as "nice but not necessary" in a real down turn. Once I make a decision, I never dwell on it with regrets so I won't worry about it. But the "computer geek" in me want to make the "right" decision with all the's hard to break from those basic DISC personality traits :( I am a 5-5-5-2 though!

jhack's picture

There should be a relationship between risk and reward.

If you take the risk, you should have some upside potential (equity stake, for example).

A simplified formula would be: potential reward x probability of success = expected value. So a secure job at 50,000 per year might have an expected value of 45,000. (assuming 90% chance you'll succeed there). To beat that, a job with only 40% chance of success would need to pay out (potentially - upon success) over 112,500. (admittedly, this is too simple a model, but you get the idea).

And there is the downside risk: if you are the primary caregiver for kids or an elderly parent, your tolerance for risk might be less than if you're single and unencumbered. So a 10% chance for a two million payout might not be worth the 90% chance of being back on the street.

In this economy, you should expect a higher reward for taking the risk (just as the banks are charging higher interest rates to cover default risk).

Two non-rational thoughts:

Most people don't regret the things they did. They regret the things they did not do.

What the heck? Go for it!


RichRuh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

My initial reaction is to agree with John and say "go for it."

But you know, there are a lot of signs that this economic downturn isn't like the rest. It's being compared to the Great Depression, not a regular recession. This might be a game-changer, and the usual rules might not apply.

Trying to be an optimist, failing,


TomW's picture
Training Badge

[quote="RichRuh"] It's being compared to the Great Depression, not a regular recession. [/quote]

By normal people who don't know anything about Wall Street, yes. Not by anyone credible (that I've seen, anyway). CNN iReporters don't count as financial analysts. Of course, financial analysts are right about as oftern as weathermen anyway.

bug_girl's picture

If you would love that job, do it!
Chances are that you'd do so well that even if things go poorly, you'll have built enough connections and capitol to jump to something good.

I have made several leaps of faith, and while there were a few dodgy months, it's always turned out to be the right thing to do--mostly judged by how happy I was to get up in the morning and go to work.

Oddly enough, I'm kind of risk averse--but every time I jumped, it turned out great.

[b]Edited to add: [/b]Any boss worth his/her salt wants you to grow and develop, even if that means short term inconvenience in the form of you quitting. I just lost one of my stars, but she was early career, and it was a great move for her. Also, I think I can lure her back in a few years.... :D

AManagerTool's picture



Who cares what it's called? Go for only have this life and waiting to ride out going to waste years.


bflynn's picture

Not mentioned is your current situation, which impacts how much risk you can afford to take on. If you're single, live alone, have low bills and rent an inexpensive apartment, you can afford to take more risk than if you have a family and a mortgage to deal with. Also, if you're well established and have a 6-9 month emergency nest egg, then you can survive just fine.

From a career and life standpoint - what would be the effect if the job crashes? Would this be high profile to the point that your career be severly damaged? Just a failure is not a worry, every person experiences failures, especially with new ventures where something like 90% fail completely and something on the order of 1% become real, viable companies.

If you lost everything you have, who else would be impacted? You can always bounce back, but if someone else is involved, you have to get their buy in too.

Generally, I say Go For It. Especially if its a job you'd love doing. That makes it so much easier to get up in the morning and work 15 hours a day to get done what needs to get done.

Do not let your fears about the economy dictacte what you should do - even in the worst depression, good people still get hired.


AManagerTool's picture

I just read about the great depression again. At its height, in 1933 unemployment was 25%. That sucks, don't get me wrong, but 3/4 people were actually working. Additionally, consumer prices were down so even though all salaries dropped so did all prices.

I think that all the boats at the pier both rise and fall with the tide at the same rate.....hopefully.

terrih's picture

Trying to remember who I heard recently call this economic thingie we're going through a "deleveraging." Which is a good thing in the long run, even if it's painful at first. Just like paying off your debts at the individual level hurts at first, but helps in the long run. 8)

Might have been Steve Forbes. I think I am subscribed to too many podcasts. :lol:

dan west's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Based on your description of the situation, it's a no-brainer for me to say jump at it. That said, the one item I always raise when someone is thinking about jumping to a new opportunity is to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Passion is the fuel that gets me through my days. So I completely understand jumping at an opportunity that sounds sexy at first blush. Just make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before committing. I will typically take a day or two off to clear my head of the office before I make the decision so I can get a better perspective on my current role in the organization.

The questions that I would ask:
1 - What's the upside potential if you are successful in this role? Compare this to the damage you will do to your relationship with your existing boss.
2 - If you are changing bosses, do you have a relationship with your new one? If not, do you think you'll have a good relationship - if not, don't take the position.
3 - Are you still learning in your current role? This isn't necessarily a driving force in changing roles. But if are still learning, it's another reason to stick around.

My 2 cents.