The life of entrepreneurship can, from the outside, look like a bed of roses. Yes, today I started work at 9 a.m. and read for two hours, then wrote for two hours, and am now writing more at 2:30 p.m., sitting in the living room watching my kids play in the snow.
But that’s my highlight reel. You’re not seeing the ten years it took to get here. You’re not hearing that at least twice in the past eighteen months I’ve been pretty stressed about how we’re going to pay our bills for the month.
Before you think you’re ready for the ride of entrepreneurship, stop and ask yourself these 10 questions.
1. Are you a self starter?
There is no boss looking over your shoulder to make sure you show up to the office on time. No one is going to enforce any policy about NOT spending time on Facebook in the middle of the workday.
If you’re not someone that can set a schedule for themselves with no outside pressure at all, stick to that schedule–you’re not cut out for running your own business.
2. Can you work alone?
For most consultants the start of your business is primarily a solo affair. Sure you have all those ‘friends’ on Twitter to be your water cooler, but you never get to actually shake their hands.
Working for yourself means that you need to put in hours by yourself. If you need that background noise you can hit a coffee shop to work for a bit, but that’s not the same as having colleagues to interact with on a project.
If you’re not someone who can work alone for the day, then you need to question if you’re ready to start consulting.
3. Can you make decisions?
As a business owner the buck stops with you. This is not some corporation where you get to make a recommendation to the boss and then sit back insulated from any real consequences.
You also can’t spend days or weeks waffling around on a decision. That’s all time wasted in that you’re not doing the work you need to for your clients.
You need to be able to quickly evaluate the options out there for your business when it comes to the software you use and then make a decision.
4. Have you worked some terrible jobs?
Yes, I think that if you want to be a great entrepreneur you need to work some terrible jobs. The key thing that they do is to teach you what you’ll never do as you grow and take on some people in your business.
For years my wife and I made lists of the things we’d never do when we ran our own business. I still have that list around and as I work with my small staff I look at it and try to make sure I’m an awesome boss.
5. Are you going to accept responsibility?
Remember the boss is you so if you have a bad client…it’s your fault.
If funds are short…it’s your fault.
If you make a poor recommendation to a client…it’s your fault.
When you’re running your own business you have to accept responsibility and then put plans in place to fix whatever is going wrong.
6. Will you keep going when it’s hard?
As I said in the beginning, at least twice in the last eighteen months I’ve been stressed about where exactly the money is coming from. No matter what business you run there are times when it’s going to be hard.
You’ll have clients you don’t like and while you know to tell them no next time, you have to finish the project this time.
You’ll have days you don’t feel like working and while you could just cut out for the day, you’ve got bills to pay.
When things are going rough, are you going to keep going? That’s the only way your business will succeed.
7. Can you sell?
It doesn’t matter what business you think you run, you’re in sales. You are always going to have to be selling your services to prospects. You’ll be working to convince them that you’re the best option for the job.
If the thought of selling your work is one that turns you off, don’t start a business.
8. Are you willing to work long hours?
While much of the time I’m not in the office for 12-hour days, it happens. There are times when a confluence of events outside of my control comes together to get me working on weekends.
No I’m not just talking about great powder and ski days on the weekdays that mean I put in hours on the weekends. I mean that sometimes clients will go longer than expected and you’ll have to cover more projects than you want to at a time.
If you’re going to whine about it, don’t start a business. If you’re going to put in the hard work needed, maybe you are cut out for this.
9. Do you have spousal support?
This might be the biggest hurdle for some of you–getting support from your spouse or partner. If my wife didn’t support the business I run and stand behind me and tell me I’m awesome when I have a bad day, my business would never run.
I’ve talked to far too many wannabe business owners that start by asking how to get their spouse to buy into their pie-in-the-sky dream. Don’t start there. Instead, learn what their concerns are and then start to build a business strategy that deals with their concerns.
If you’re fighting an uphill battle with your spouse while trying to get a fledgling business off the ground, your chances of failure are near 100%. Maybe the business will go, but the relationship will die.
If you build a successful business and kill your marriage, you failed! Don’t fool yourself in to thinking otherwise.
10. Are you willing to risk your own stuff?
Running your own business can be a big payoff. For me it’s meant that I can go skiing on Mondays or even on a Thursday when there is a bunch of fresh powder out there.
It’s also meant sacrifice. I live in a small townhouse with three kids and a dog. It’s a bit cramped, especially since we homeschool.
Each day I head out and run this business I’m risking my time and money. I’m writing right now not sure that this post will bring in any new readers who will become coaching clients, and yet I risk.
If you want guaranteed success then you’re much closer to it in a job, stick to that job. There is no promise of anyone thinking your stuff is worth anything when you run your own business.
It’s all risk.
Time to evaluate your answers
Now it’s time to look back at your answers. If most of them are answered in the negative then maybe you’re not cut out for entrepreneurship and you should be sticking with a job.
Maybe some day in the future you’re going to be in the right spot to take the leap and transition to running your own business, but now is not that day.