Entrepreneur or Not
Deciding to start your own business? Do you have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur?
By Tory Johnson
One thing is certain in business: There are no guarantees. There are a lot of risks inherent in starting a business. More businesses fail than succeed. Sometimes it's because of a lack of experience, insufficient capital, poor management or excess personal use of business funds. This is not meant to discourage but rather to make the point that one should not underestimate the difficultly of starting a business. Success in business is never a given, but if you're patient – and willing to work hard and take all the necessary steps – it can be yours.
Most entrepreneurs start out working long, difficult hours with very little pay. They must display extreme self-confidence in order to handle all the risks inherent in operating their own business. In order to be successful, the best entrepreneurs have the ability to think on their feet and make wise decisions – and be able to go with the flow and accept change. Although they're focused on profits, this often comes second to the drive toward personal success. Certainly, though, all successful entrepreneurs have the profit margin in sight and know that their business success is measured by it.
Do you think you fit that description, or would you rather pick up your paycheck and leave the headaches (and possible heartaches) to someone else? Here's how to assess your strengths to determine if entrepreneurship is right for you.
Are you motivated? When you're the boss it will be up to you to organize your time, come up with assignments and follow through on details. Some owners burn out quickly from having to carry all the responsibility for the success of their business on their own shoulders. Running a company can wear you down, but healthy enthusiasm will help you survive the slowdowns.
Can you plan and organize? Lack of planning is one reason businesses fail. Thorough planning and careful organization of your finances, assets, staff, schedules and production will help you avoid many pitfalls.
Do you consider yourself decisive? Small business owners have to make decisions regularly – usually independently and sometimes under tremendous pressure. You have to have faith and confidence in yourself but also have the wisdom to know when to seek advice.
How is your health? Running a company can be exciting, but it won't be a 9 to 5 gig. You'll often be working six and seven days a week for 12- and 14-hour stretches. The physical and emotional toll can wear you out.
How will the business affect your family? Starting a business, especially the first few years, can be trying on family life. Financial difficulties could arise until the business becomes profitable, and this could take months or years. In some instances you may have to get used to a lower standard of living in the short term. And your family may have to get used to seeing less of you for a while. Family members must understand what to expect, and you need to be able to have faith that they will support you during hard times.
Do you work well with others? Business owners need to establish successful working relationships with a wide range of people, such as customers, employees, bankers, lawyers and accountants. How well will you be able to deal with a moody secretary, a chronically unreachable attorney and a challenging client when your business depends on them?
Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and the CEO of Women for Hire.