Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?
By Caroline Levchuck
America is a country built on an entrepreneurial spirit. People have been coming here for hundreds of years to realize their professional dreams, in large part because the US is very small-business-friendly. In fact, small businesses make up a significant portion of employers in this country, and 75 percent of business firms have no payroll, as they are operated by self-employed professionals, according to the US Census Bureau.
If you harbor dreams of joining the ranks of small business owners, ask yourself these five questions to see if you've got what it takes.
1. Are You Committed?
The path to entrepreneurial success can be a long one. According to the Small Business Association, more than half of small businesses fail within five years, for a variety of reasons. It's important to be committed to the success and longevity of your business. There may be pitfalls and problems along the way, but if you're dedicated to staying the course, your odds for success will greatly increase.
2. Are You Bold?
When you're in business for yourself, you have to sell yourself. There's no room for meekness when you're an entrepreneur. If you don't think you can talk up your company to potential clients, don't bother starting a company.
3. Are You Disciplined?
You may have performed great at your last job, with a supervisor cracking a whip and establishing clear expectations. But will you be able to garner the same results when working independently?
Assess your level of self-discipline and organization before undertaking a solo venture. If you're not sure, take on some consulting or freelance work to see how you perform.
4. Are You Financially Secure?
Many businesses (though not all) aren't immediately profitable. If you lack funding, a nest egg, financial support from a partner or spouse, or another way of generating a salary, this may not be the best time to strike out on your own.
Seek out investors or small business loans so you have a cushion. Save up or suck it up and get a part-time job to supplement your earnings (and perhaps even provide you with medical benefits) while you grow your business beyond its early days.
If you're not realistic about your financial needs, your business won't have a realistic chance of succeeding.
5. Are You Experienced?
Lack of experience and knowledge about specific business practices are just two reasons new businesses fail soon after being founded. Make sure you've got the know-how and hands-on experience to operate the business you're planning.
If you're opening a small store, your odds for success will increase if you've actually worked at a small store, preferably in management. A love of the product you're selling isn't enough; you need to understand every aspect of operations -- payroll, taxes, marketing, distribution, insurance, client relations -- before opening your company.
Learning as you go when you start a job is fine; learning as you go when you start a business is a recipe for disaster and failure.
Articles in This Feature:
- Start Your Own Business home
- Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?
- Awaken the Entrepreneur Within with Help from Your Current Employer
- Test Your Business Idea
- Obtain Startup Capital for Your Business
- Can Entrepreneurship Equal Opportunity for Recent Graduates?
- The Rise of Mom Entrepreneurs
- Self-Employment at Any Age