Starting a business is exhausting and challenging. Most of the time it takes years to really see the results of your hard work. Knowing if you’re up for the challenge and what to expect can better prepare you for the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to come up with ideas and dreams, but putting them into action is a whole other story. Here are vital questions to ask yourself before taking the entrepreneurial plunge!
Do you have a true, gut-level passion for the product or service you’re providing?
Without true passion, the chances of your product or service gaining traction is low. While some entrepreneurs who are solely money-driven hit it big, most do not. 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months and successful serial entrepreneurs are very few and far between. It’s the entrepreneur who focuses and zones in on their passion who will be most likely to successfully launch and maintain a sustainable business. These entrepreneurs are not necessarily your flashy, Silicon Valley types. They’re the lesser-known, more common entrepreneurs who run their own small businesses and create products and services with lasting purpose and passion.
Are you willing to struggle for months or years?
It’s tough. It’s not as glamorous as it looks on Instagram. There’s just no way to put it lightly. It’s the very epitome of sacrifice and delaying gratification. It’s painful. It’s profoundly uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s all-nighters, being broke, sweat pants and greasy hair. Even if you have tons of capital to start with, the stress and peaks and valleys of being a business owner are taxing. It’s like being on a perpetual (albeit exciting) rollercoaster ride. And you have to ride it out. Even on days when you’re really annoyed and dejected. Some days will be amazing -other days not so much. The ability to ride out the emotional, mental and financial stress will be key to your success.
Do you thrive on uncertainty, risk, adversity, and challenge?
Are you prepared for and do you thrive on scary things like change, adversity, uncertainty, and risks? Basically, you need to crave the excitement of the unknown and future possibilities. It’s gotta be in your DNA. Entrepreneurs are kind of freaks -in a good way. I was never more dissatisfied in my career than when I had “job security” and a set paycheck. Logically, it should be the other way around. So, when someone asks me if they should start their own business and they’re scared, I ask them if they actually enjoy risk and uncertainty? Because you actually have to thrive on that aspect of it to be successful. It has to fuel you and make you feel alive.
Would you do it for free?
Businesses are not built overnight and the great majority of entrepreneurs pretty much work for free in the beginning. You have to love what you’re doing enough to do it without compensation. If you can’t answer “yes” to that question, you probably don’t love your product or idea enough and you should brainstorm further to find something you truly love.
Does your existing skillset back up your idea?
We should all be learning new skillsets to support our careers. The day we stop learning is the day we go stagnant. However, existing expertise related to your idea is always going to be helpful. Think about what skillsets you already possess and how you can use them to launch your business. If you want to go into a totally unrelated industry, it’s wise to do your research or partner with an expert to provide support for your idea. Having as much knowledge as possible about your business is crucial to your success. Also, never have an ego about hiring someone who is better than you at a certain skill. We all have strengths and weaknesses and having the humility to admit you need help will serve you well in the long run.
Do you have a game-plan?
What’s your plan of attack for the next month, 6 months, year? Know what your short and long term goals are. While ideas and goals naturally change over time, it’s advisable to at least have a trajectory for your business. Create a basic business plan to start with. You don’t need 20 pages of every analytic on the planet yet, but formulate your idea into something comprehensible. During this process, continue to work on your idea. Never let the incompletion of your business plan stall you. Some people spend 6 months creating a ridiculously long business plan while stalling their idea because “their business plan isn’t done yet.” That’s a massive waste of time. Create a basic outline of what you want to do and always be moving forward with your idea regardless. Work on what you can while completing a more in-depth business plan in the process.
Do you have enough capital to get through the first 6 months?
While some entrepreneurs can boot-strap with little to no money, it’s extremely stressful and can halt your idea all-together. You should have at least 6 months of savings to get you through the beginning process. Otherwise, the stress of being flat broke can derail your ambitions and fog your judgment. If you have a great idea, don’t quit your job until you have saved some money or are able to get a business loan. I know you may be fed up and ready to quit your job today, but being financially prepared before you resign will give you the best chance of being mentally healthy and successful.