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while not having the same open ended potential as running your own business seems to have the greater expected return.

Depends upon if your expectations are low or high.

"Expectation" in the probability sense. That is multiply the each of the value of the outcomes for a particular choice by the probability of it occuring and add them up. That is the "expected" outcome.

A simple example is buying lottery tickets. If each ticket costs $1 with a potential prize of $1M and there are 10M tickets sold then the expected return is:
expected return = outcome x probability = $1M x (1/10M) = $0.10

In the more complicated case of the difference between owning a business or being an employee you would have a lot more possible outcomes. For the business owner the outcomes would have a very wide range from going bankrupt to becoming a Fortune 500 company with the probabilities scattered. Same for the employee option but the high end would be lower but the probability of good outcomes in the middle would likely be higher.

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