In some ways there has never been a better time than now to start your own business. With a shaky employment market, many people -- including those who are unemployed or underemployed -- choose to create their own job by starting their own business. The advantages of having your own business are numerous and include:
- More flexibility with your schedule
- The opportunity to do something you love and get paid for it
- Fewer restrictions on creativity
- The gratification of putting your ideas into practice
- Immense personal satisfaction
However, starting your own business should not be taken lightly. It requires harder work than you've probably ever done, and you may face very lean finances as you get your business off the ground. Becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone.
The following 10-question quiz will help you determine if starting your own business is a good choice for you. The more "yes" answers you have, the more likely you are to have what it takes to start your own business and succeed.
1. Are you self-motivated, with initiative and the ability to define tasks and get them done?
Since you will be your own boss, you will be the one to define tasks and actually carry them out. You should have the initiative to determine what you have to do and when you have to have it done. And you have to follow through.
2. Are you willing to take on a part-time side job to boost cash flow?
There is no shame in moonlighting to ease cash flow while you're getting your business going. And though you may not want to think about your business failing, having a steady job on the side can help minimize the financial problems that can result if your business goes under.
3. Are you creative at finding solutions to problems that other people might not think of?
One of the things that many entrepreneurs dislike about the traditional workplace is the entrenched way of dealing with problems "the way we've always done it." As an entrepreneur, you don't have that somewhat artificial restraint, and are free to address problems in nontraditional ways. This requires creativity and dedication.
4. Are you comfortable with the idea of promoting yourself, your work, and your business?
You may not be selling a tangible product, but if you have your own business, you are always selling something, including your expertise and skill. While you don't have to resort to gimmickry or shameless self promotion, you do have to be comfortable telling people about what makes your business the best choice for addressing a client or customer's needs.
5. Do you already have a strong professional network, or are you willing to devote time to expanding and strengthening your connections?
Having a strong professional network and being willing to expand that network is a key to helping your business grow. The more people out there who know and respect you and are willing to put in a good word for you, the easier it will be to launch and expand your business.
6. Do you have the fortitude to deal directly with dissatisfied clients or customers?
When you go into business for yourself, you can't simply refer an unhappy client to the customer service department. Finding out that a client or customer is unsatisfied is difficult, and may make you wonder if you've made the right decision going into business for yourself. You have to be willing to step up and address issues yourself, or you will lose clients.
7. Are you equipped to deal with sick days, quarterly taxes, and other less enjoyable aspects of being an entrepreneur?
You not only need expertise in your particular business area, you also have to deal with accounting and legal reality. You should have a plan for coping with sick days (and that plan may be "working in bed"), and you must keep good records to avoid run-ins with the Internal Revenue Service and to track expenses.
8. Do you take yourself and your job seriously?
No matter what your profession is, and no matter how enjoyable your work, it can't be all fun and games. It isn't a hobby or something you're doing just for kicks. You have to get up every day and remember: "I am a professional, this is what I do, and I have to give it my best effort."
9. Do you have the support of your family and friends?
Having a spouse with a steady paycheck can help tremendously when you start your own business. But if your spouse resents carrying most of the financial load for a while or doesn't take you seriously, you could experience strained relationships on top of the usual stress of operating your own business. If your friends aren't supportive, you can come to doubt your decisions, or find yourself resentful.
10. Are you conscientious enough to meet deadlines, set and achieve goals, and exceed customer or client expectations?
If you constantly blow deadlines or if you sometimes devote less than your best efforts to jobs, you can lose clients and have a harder time gaining new ones. If you don't have self discipline, being an entrepreneur may not be for you.
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