Many dream of the day they can start their own business, take control of their career, set their own schedule, and make their own decisions. In these days of economic uncertainty, starting your own business no longer seems all that much riskier than a 9-5 office job.
While self-employment is a tempting career path, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people are able to carve out a successful, sustainable solo career, while other equally talented colleagues dabble in the self-employed lifestyle only to be lured back to a job at a more established organization.
If you’re considering starting your own business, ask yourself these seven questions:
1. Why do you want to work for yourself?
This question sounds simple enough, but don’t take it too lightly. All too often, people look toward self-employment when they’re frustrated with their current job. Ask yourself…Is this business something you really want to do or are you just trying to escape something else? If you’re truly passionate about your business idea, that’s fantastic. But if you’re just mad at your employer, that’s not a good enough reason to become an entrepreneur.
2. How disciplined are you?
If you want to work for yourself, you need to be able to self-motivate. This is particularly important at the beginning when you’re just ramping up and don’t have clients or customer demands to meet. You need to be able to put in long hours in order to set up your website, marketing, blog, and more – and you’ll need to be able to put your nose to the grindstone even when there’s no boss to set your schedule.
3. Do you like variety?
People who thrive in self-employment get bored of monotony. They enjoy working with new people and learning new skills. When you run a small business, you’ve got to wear a virtually endless number of different hats…from sales to customer support and IT. For example, when you’re a small business owner, you can’t get too frustrated when you have to troubleshoot printer problems without the help of an IT manager (at least until you can hire your own IT manager).
4. Can you be your own salesperson?
You may be a brilliant party planner, graphic designer, PR pro, or landscaper, but working for yourself entails so much more. You’ll have to deal with all the financial aspects of your business: negotiations, contracts, etc. If you’re not comfortable asking for money, you’ll have to get comfortable fast.
5. Can you be financially buoyant for the short term?
One of the main reasons a startup fails is that it doesn’t have enough capital at the beginning. Be realistic about your financing and don’t try to extend yourself beyond your means. Ideally, you should be able to support yourself for at least 6 months to a year through other avenues – whether that’s your savings, a partner’s income, or a part-time job.
6. Can you sacrifice a steady lifestyle?
Ask yourself how important are the following things to you right now at your stage in life: a steady paycheck, 4-weeks paid vacation, employer-paid health insurance? Most entrepreneurs will need to forgo such perks for the first few years of their business. You’ll need to be able to handle the uncertainty and lean times…both financially and mentally.
7. Are you passionate about what you do?
Yes, running a business is hard work and starting a business from scratch is even harder. But in this case, the adage ‘love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life’ holds true. Of course, remember that the market isn’t necessarily concerned if you are fulfilling your lifelong dream. Customers spend money on products and services that fulfill their own needs and desires. To turn a profit, focus on how your passion can make a difference to others.
In short, when deciding if self-employment is right for you, be sure to consult both your head and your heart. Then buckle your seat belt and get ready for an incredibly exciting, tiring, and always rewarding ride.
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