Are you really ready to start a business?
By Adam Blanch
Let's assume that you already know that going into business isn't a walk in the park and that most businesses fail within five years. There are still a few questions you should answer before trading in your current boss for that lunatic in the mirror.
1. Are you crazy?
You're going to need to be a little crazy if you want to stay sane. Business is a hard, 24/7, unforgiving and has a very steep learning curve. Sure, it offers great rewards (one day), but to begin with it can be somewhat hectic. You can't walk away at the end of the day and you are most definitely not 'working for yourself' - instead, for your customers, suppliers, staff and credit providers. Anything can happen, so you should have a really good reason for doing it.
2. Do you have what it takes?
We don't just mean the personal stuff like endurance, commitment, the faith of a lightly roasted saint and the ability to survive without sleep. We mean do you have the skills to run a business? Can you market, sell, do the books, manage the operations, lead people, manage your cash flow, read contracts, hire and fire, and juggle hot coals while laughing in the face of imminent death? Business takes some serious skills, and you are going to be too busy to learn them as you go.
3. Does anyone really need it?
We're sure it seemed like a great idea at 3am the night after you had that fight with your impossible boss - but is it really? Have you asked anyone else if they want your widget? Contrary to popular belief, Eskimos don't need more ice unless it's better ice and delivered at a better price.
4. Can you turn falling into flying?
We don't mean to scare you, but be afraid - be very afraid. Things will go wrong and you better know how to get back up, thrive on challenges, solve impossible problems, deal with difficult people, cope with repetitive tasks, stare down a tax inspector and go home and be sweet to your spouse and kids. Is the person in the mirror really a creative, determined, entrepreneurial force of nature?
5. Is there anyone behind you?
Don't get paranoid, but being in charge of a business could be somewhat likened to being in prison. You need someone to watch your back. Do you have family, friends, mentors, networks and a nice cuddly myopic bank manager who says you remind him of his children?
Which brings us right back to question one - are you crazy?
For those still reading, which tip above resonates most with you? And for those who have already taken the plunge, what's the best piece of advice you received before you started?