You probably already know that starting a small business requires extensive research and analysis of many factors. But the one requiring the most critical assessment is often overlooked by many entrepreneurs. And, it's as close as the nearest mirror.
That's because wanting to be an entrepreneur is one thing; being one is quite another. You will take on responsibilities and commitments far different from those of an employee, even if you have management experience. It's a challenge that can be exhilarating and rewarding. Unless you're prepared mentally and emotionally, however, it can also be overwhelming.
Before you study financing options and plan store layouts, sit down and conduct a probing interview with yourself to see if you're the right person for the all important job of entrepreneur-owner-boss.
Are You a Self-Starter?
Nothing in business happens by itself. As the owner, you're responsible for everything from establishing your firm's vision to setting the daily work schedule. The fact that you're exploring small business ownership and asking questions is a good sign.
Are You a Positive Thinker?
The moment you become a business owner, you represent yourself, your business and your expectations for success. What you say and do must convey confidence and commitment to moving forward. Employees who sense these qualities will share that determination to succeed, even under difficult circumstances. If you work alone, there will be days when you have to be your own cheerleader.
Are You Disciplined?
Your days of the "9-to-5 routine" are over. Running a small business requires a continuous commitment to quality and detail. You cannot afford to cut corners, miss deadlines or make promises beyond your capabilities. If you plan to run the business from home, you must be able to resist temptations and distractions in order to get your work done.
Are You a Lifelong Learner?
Entrepreneurs who continually seek information, new ideas and sound advice have the best chance for success. Being attuned to market trends and issues makes it easier to adjust products and services to customers' needs and preferences. You're also in a better position to enhance your competitive advantage and efficiency, and address potential problems before they harm your business.
Can You Market Yourself and Your Business?
Some people have trouble with this one because of the negative (and often unfair) connotations associated with being a "salesperson." No business, no matter how good, will succeed without some kind of marketing. The good news is that promoting your business is easier than you may think as long as you know what to do and how to do it. After all, we all enjoy saying good things about ourselves. When you craft and tell your story in the right way, more people will be willing and eager to hear it.
Can You be Objective?
Your ideas and practices may seem "bulletproof," but reality may be far different. Is there really a need for a particular product or service in your area? Are the hours of operation fair to your employees? Is renting equipment better than owning it? A good business owner knows how to examine an issue from many perspectives and understand that strengths and limitations of each.
So how did your "candidate" for entrepreneur-owner-boss do? If every answer was a "yes," your small business dream is on its way to becoming a reality. For areas of concern, the solution may be business counseling, management courses, or a concerted effort to discard some unproductive habits in favor new ones.
Finally, make it a point to conduct regular self reviews. Thinking and approaches that worked in the start-up phase may not be as appropriate for a thriving concern, or if a major market shift occurs. When you work for yourself, you want to be confident the entrepreneur-owner-boss knows exactly what he or she is doing.
Brought to by SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" www.score.org
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