Imagine this. You’re sitting at your desk at the end of a long, draining workday, daydreaming about how wonderful it would be if you could spend your working hours doing work what you love, being your own boss.
Starting your own business is a daydream of many employees. But how do you know if you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur?
Here’s how to know if starting a business is right for you.
1. You have an entrepreneurial mindset.
Your mindset plays a big role in whether or not you will make it as a business owner. Are you a person who likes to forge new pathways or do you prefer taking the road that’s tried and true? Are you comfortable making decisions in ambiguous situations or do you get stuck in analysis paralysis? How comfortable are you with failure? (Because you will fail, at least once and probably many more times).
The entrepreneurial mindset is one that is visionary, decisive, flexible, and doesn’t give up easily.
2. You’re a self-starter who doesn’t wait for someone to tell you what to do.
As an employee, you wait to be given your marching orders. But when you’re a boss, you decide what needs to be done and execute on it. Being able to prioritise and make decisions are two key skills you’ll need throughout the life of your business. When you take on the role of CEO, you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. After all, you are ultimately responsible for the success of your business, no one else.
3. You have a business idea or you’ve identified your marketable skills.
Do you have an idea for the business you’d start and the product or service you’d sell? If not, which of your business and/or life skills could be packaged and sold as a service? What would that package look like and who would buy it?
Determining the viability of your business idea means assessing your services and your potential client base to see whether there’s a market. This means doing research to get feedback on your business idea before moving forward.
4. You enjoy working independently or if not, you’ve identified a productive workaround.
Entrepreneurship can be lonely, especially if you’re not prepared. Some days you might work several hours at a time from home where you don’t speak to anyone but your dog. If you’re a person who needs constant interaction with others, this type of solitude can be rough. Luckily, there are ways to ease this sense of loneliness. You can join the ranks of co-working at places like WeWork where you grab a desk and co-work with fellow entrepreneurs and independent workers.
5. You’re willing and able to work more hours than normal, especially in the first couple of years.
Social media propagates a myth that entrepreneurs have tonnes of free time to take selfies on beaches and travel the world, living exotic lifestyles. While this is true for some traveling solopreneurs, many who are just starting have to put in a lot of time and effort in order to get their business off the ground. Are you willing to devote more of your time and energy to your new business, and make sacrifices in other areas of your life?
6. Your finances are in order and you know what you need to survive.
When you decide to leave a steady pay cheque, benefits, and 401k, you need to know how you’re going to live without it (and for how long). This means you’ll need to have a firm grasp on your finances. Figure out the bare minimum you need to earn to pay your bills. Then come up with an ideal amount you’d love to make. Set a target goal somewhere in the middle. Make sure you’re comfortable living within a budget. You’ll also need to be competent at managing and tracking your business finances, at least until you’re ready to hire a bookkeeper or accountant.
7. You have a plan (and back-up plan).
If you’re working full-time, you’ll want to develop a transition plan for becoming self-employed. Your transition plan might include starting your business as a side hustle on nights and weekends.
Another option could be cutting back on your full-time hours. You could also get a part-time job so you have more time to devote to getting your business off the ground. Consider your options, and develop a plan that works best for you. Set a target date and identify what milestones you’ll need to hit before you leap. Planning in advance helps you set the parameters and targets for success, and act accordingly.
8. You have a strong support network who will stand by you through the rough times.
It’s challenging enough to start a business on your own, but if your
spouse or family isn’t 100% behind your decision, things can become a lot more difficult. Do your best to explain the importance of your decision to those closest to you and ask them to stand behind you. If you don’t feel emotionally supported by those close to you, build a new support network before you make the leap. This could mean joining a networking group or business organisation, or reaching out to fellow entrepreneurs.
9. You have a handle on your competing priorities.
When you start a business, it takes centre stage in your life, at least for a certain period of time. Consider what competing priorities might impact you. If you have a new baby or ailing parents, or if you’re going to school or pursuing training, how will you handle potential conflicts that arise? What will take priority in your life? It may seem silly to think about it now, but deciding how you will handle conflicts when they arise is key to your focus and productivity as a business owner.
10. You’re passionate about working for yourself, being your own boss and bringing your vision into the world.
This is arguably the most important component of all: You want to start a business. In fact, you need to want it so badly that you can’t imagine another way. Handling the hurdles that come with being a business owner can be challenging, and if this isn’t something you feel passionate about, you may burn out quickly, or fail to get out of the gate. Make sure whatever you decide to do, you feel a connection to the work you do. When you know the purpose behind your work, you’re less likely to be dissuaded by obstacles along the way.
So how do you know if starting a business is right for you? It’s a combination of mindset, personality, preparation, and passion. Ultimately, it’s a major life and career decision that one has to carefully consider before making the leap.
Stacey Hagen is a coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurial women discover and develop lives and businesses they love. She is an avid traveler, adventurer, and life-long learner whose mission is to inspire and empower other women to live their lives full out. You can visit her at createcoachingconsulting.com.