Entrepreneurs often see, or create, an opportunity where others can’t. Successful entrepreneurs approach that opportunity with a well-formulated plan, the knowledge, skills and resources for successful execution.
There are numerous success stories of innovative risk takers who have found success branching out on their own and following their passion. For many people this vision, coupled with the idea of being your own boss is inviting.
Consider the following seven topics when you are considering this path. This is not about right or wrong answers, just being prepared with solutions for where you are and where you want to be.
- Am I prepared to give up my current job? To answer this, there are several considerations starting with the two basics of time and money. If you will be working while pursuing this venture, do you have adequate time to dedicate to both? If you will be leaving your job for this opportunity do you have a plan for your living expenses, health insurance, etc.? Will you need to show documented income to take out loans for this business, a home, or car?
- What is my end goal? The why of your dream is as important as the how and can help answer many of the other questions. Is your goal to build and run a small business, to secure a patent on a product to then sell or to create and then sell your business/concept/then your product and walk away?
- Who will handle the finances? This topic crosses over to other questions on this list, but is too important not to focus on. From securing startup funds to managing costs and evaluating profits, a keen understanding of the money side of your business is necessary. If you don’t possess that or want to focus on other parts of the business, know who will be handling this before getting started.
- Who will handle the technology, marketing and operations? Technology has changed the way we do business. For example: if you plan on a website, can you build it or do you have the funds to have a professional build it? It is important you consider how you will get the word out and how you will operate your business as it grows.
- How well do I know the industry? Before jumping into anything, research and understand the market. One example of an industry that got hot quickly and then burned investors was “flipping” in the real estate market. Hollywood has glamorized this entrepreneurial trend with shows where people can make 50k or 100K on a single project. The episodes where people don’t check the market, understand holding costs or make smart decisions and lose money are just as valuable.
- Am I dedicated and motivated? For people who have always worked in a structured environment, adjusting to being accountable to just you can be challenging. Are you the type of personality to work 100 hours a week and burn out, or will you enjoy sleeping in and taking it easy while tasks linger on? Setting up a plan to hold yourself accountable and stay motivated is a must. This is your money and your future.
- What is my back-up plan? Even if you start with a solid game plan, respectable capital and unwavering motivation, changes in the market can make you vulnerable at any time. How long are you committed to this idea, and at what point will you walk away – or should you? Thinking positive is always important, but keeping focused on alternative solutions should not be forgotten.
Going from being an employee to entrepreneur can be scary, can be rewarding, or a little of both. You are not alone on this path. The U.S. Census Bureau reports: “About three quarters of all U.S. business firms have no payroll. Most are self-employed persons operating unincorporated businesses, and may or may not be the owner’s principal source of income. These businesses account for only about 3.4 percent of business receipts, therefore they are not included in most business statistics, for example, most reports from the Economic Census.”
Before making that leap, do your research, ask yourself the tough questions and set yourself up for success.
About the Author: Roderic “Rod” Hewlett, D.A. is a sought after expert on leadership and business. With a focus on infusing businesses with the skills required to succeed in today’s global market, Rod brings tremendous leadership skills, effective communication and dynamic management concepts that have been widely accepted, across the globe. His innovative, breakthrough leadership strategies are helping transform the next generation of executives into highly effective leaders. He also authored the popular book, “The Cognitive Leader: Building Winning Organizations through Knowledge Leadership.” Rod’s wide breadth of experience includes executive level and global management roles, and he currently serves as Dean of the College of Business at Bellevue University.