by Anne Day | Featured Contributor
Do you have a business idea bubbling up inside of you, but are not sure where to start, or even if you should take this leap into the unknown?
It is an exciting and scary time. One of the first questions to ask yourself is if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, because it is not for the faint of heart and not everyone can make a go of it.
Here’s some questions to ask yourself:
1. Are you comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty? There will be times in the life of your business when nothing is happening; business is slow and you are not sure if you can pay your bills. Be sure that you can live with this pressure cooker existence. It can be feast or famine, so you also want to save while you are getting the sales.
2. Do you have enough money set aside to bankroll your first six months? I ask this question, because as you will have gleaned from the first point, you may well need it. Apart from your business expenses, you will still have your day-to-day living costs to pay. Whenever you are doing anything for the first time, it takes longer than you think.
3. Why do you want to start a business? Often people, especially women, start a business because they want more control over their time and to achieve work-life balance. Be clear on why you want to do this. While you do have more control over your time, you need to be prepared to put in long hours, which yes, can be worked around your family, but bottom line, it is hard work
4. Are you a follower or a leader? Ask yourself what your role has been in the past. Are you someone used to giving instructions, coming up with ideas or are you someone who has been told what to do and then carried it out? When you start a business, often it is just you, so you have to be prepared to do everything and think it through for yourself.
5. Have you done your homework? Is there a need for what you want to do? It is important to check out your competition and the marketplace to see if what you want to do is viable. Do you have the expertise to package and sell yourself if you are becoming a consultant, for example?
6. Are your family supportive? While it is not essential that they are behind you, it sure helps if they believe in you and want you to succeed. It makes for a tougher journey if they think you are wasting your time or are constantly asking when you are going to make some money.
7. Are you realistic on what you can earn? Talking of money, I often find newbies are unrealistic about what they can earn in the first couple of years. It takes time to build a business, so unless you have a great get-rich plan, expect to see more money going out than coming in for the first year at least.
8. How well connected are you? If you are continuing to work in the same industry, be sure to keep in touch with those who can help you grow your business and perhaps give you some contracts, because they know the quality of your work. If you are entering a new industry to you, learn as much as you can. Join the industry association and start networking fast so you can build your connections.
9. How committed are you to your business idea? I’ve often found that the initial idea changes and evolves as the new entrepreneur learns more about the sector and what works, and what doesn’t. Being flexible enables you to adapt and grow as your business does.
I hope I haven’t put you off, but more caused you to reflect on why you want to embark on self-employment and entrepreneurship. Without doubt, it is one of the most rewarding journeys you can take. And one, I don’t regret it at all.
But she found working for yourself can be isolating and so eleven years ago she started Company of Women as a way to connect and support women entrepreneurs. Today the organization has six chapters across the GTA and beyond, and over 300 members. In 2009 she received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Oakville and the TIAW World of Difference award for her work in supporting women internationally. Over the years she has helped thousands of women grow professionally and personally through her programs, services and personal encouragement.
She is the author of three books, the most recent being Day by Day – Tales of business,life and everything in between. She is a regular business columnist with Huffington Post, and blogs for numerous other publications.