Do You Have What It Takes to Run a Business?
Q: Steve — I just want to give a word of warning to other would-be entrepreneurs. It's not for everybody! I went into business with a partner last year. The business is fine, but I am not. I hate the long hours and the uncertainty. I also make less money. Don't do it! — Dave
A: I agree that owning a business is not for everyone. Here is my handy dandy quick quiz that will help anyone decide whether or not they are an entrepreneur:
Does the thought of leaving your current job make you more scared or excited?
If the idea of leaving your nice corporate gig, with its attendant benefits and perks, not to mention that nice, regular paycheck, makes you more nervous than excited, then starting a small business is probably not for you.
However, if giving up all of that makes you happy because that means that you will finally be going off on your own, then you, sir (or ma'am!) are probably an entrepreneur.
Of course the idea of starting your own business and being your own boss sounds great in theory. Who wouldn't want to chuck the rat race and start over again doing something they love? Yes indeedy, starting your own business is part of the American Dream; there is undoubtedly a certain romantic notion to the whole thing.
But, like anyone who has been married a long time knows, that first blush of passionate romance fades and transforms, if you are fortunate, into something deeper and more meaningful; it's a different type of love.
And so it is with your business. If you start your own gig, you will be married to it. And, just like with any marriage, some are great and last a long time because they are a good fit. Others flame out rather quickly, either because they were not a good fit or that initial infatuation was just that and nothing more.
So you have to be careful when you fall in love with the idea of becoming your own boss because that initial blast of love is more puppy than pure. It is when you don't get that paycheck after the first two weeks, or four weeks, or ever, that the cold, hard reality begins to creep in.
"Is this really for me?" Asking that after you start is the wrong time. Not a few new small business owners end up with buyer's remorse and, like Fagin in the play Oliver!, say "I think I better think it out again, hey!"
So before you ever get to that spot and marry a business that you don't really love, consider these steps first:
1. Try it out part-time: I have a pal who loves the idea of going into business for himself but would have to give up a very lucrative career to do so. And with a family to support, he does not have the luxury of making a mistake. So what did he do?
He bought into a business as an investor. Though he is not responsible for the day to day operation of the place, he still gets to scratch his entrepreneurial itch.
2. Freelance: If yours is a profession in which you could sell your services part-time when you are not at work, try it. See what sort of market there is for what you offer and whether you like doing it on your own. You could always ramp it up more later.
3. Consider a franchise: Obviously a more expensive option, buying a franchise is a way to get into business and still have support. A great franchise system will teach you well, keep teaching you, and offer plenty of other support. But, before buying any franchise, check with current franchisees to see what the system really is like and that you really will be supported.
Bottom line: Don't be fooled by the initial intense feelings that dreaming about being an entrepreneur might evoke. They are not real. It's infatuation. Before marrying a business, make sure you really are compatible and will love each other for a long time.
Today's tip: At my site, MrAllBiz.com, we ran a poll asking people whether they thought entrepreneurs were born or made. The vast majority said they thought entrepreneurs were made and not born.
© 2010 Steven D. Strauss, “America’s small business expert.” www.MrAllBiz.com