Is My Personality Right for This?


By Chris Freeburn


Many people dream of being their own boss - of setting their own hours, making their own terms, and having the big office where all the important decisions are made. It's a tempting idea, one nurtured by a national culture that prizes the ideal of the rugged individual who strikes out and remakes the world according to his or her vision. And every year, tens of thousands of Americans launch their own businesses, hoping that their fledgling enterprises might someday become the next Apple or Kinko's.




But creating a new business is a demanding task. It means that you'll be the one responsible for making sure everything that needs to be done gets done - and probably doing much of that yourself, at least at first. The ability to nurture your business through its infancy will require drive, passion and commitment Most likely, it also means a seemingly unlimited number of late nights, few vacations, and constant effort dedicated to nurturing the nascent business through its perilous first few years.


The Entrepreneurial Temperament


Not everyone is cut out for that sort of effort. Nor will every personality flourish in an entrepreneurial environment. "The thing about being your own boss is that you now have to worry about all the things that the other guy who used to be your boss had to worry about," says Boston - based business consultant Jim Sheridan. "It's easy to underestimate just how much work goes into building a new business and just how much of that you'll have to shoulder by yourself as a new entrepreneur."


In addition to making the big decisions, you'll be making all the little ones, too: paying yourself and any employees, making sure the taxes are done correctly, arranging advertising, dealing with customers and clients and suppliers, taking care to see that your business is in compliance with local codes and regulations. Being the owner means the buck starts and stops with you. A sense of personal responsibility and a willingness to work very hard are essential for entrepreneurs, as is the ability to multi - task, says Sheridan. "When you start a business, you need to be able to wear a variety of hats every day," he explains. "One minute, you're the personnel manager, dealing with your employees, the next minute you're a financial analyst looking at the balance sheet, and the next you're the marketing director planning your ad campaign."


Entrepreneurs must also be able to tolerate risk. "You'll be putting more than just time and effort into your business," Sheridan says. "You'll likely be investing your money, or someone else's." Many people use personal savings or borrow from friends and family or banks to open their own business, and a large percentage of businesses do not survive the first five years. "Not everyone is comfortable working with an uncertain income, or borrowing a lot of money when there's no guarantee of success," Sheridan says, adding, "risk - taking is part of the game."


You are your business


Owning your own business is very different from working for someone else. When the average employee leaves the office at 5 p.m., he or she leaves the job behind them and concentrates on family or the night's entertainment. That is not true for the small business owner.


Edward Paulson, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting Your Own Business, says that for the first few years, you and your new business will practically be the same entity. "There is simply no way to separate the owner from the company in the early stages. Customers write checks to the company name, but they think of themselves as doing business with the founder/owner. After all, when a company is small, there is really only one decisions matter: the owner."


Paulson notes that small business owners tend to treat their new businesses as if it were their own child at first. "Think about it;" he advises, "you will likely spend more time with your business than with your family, all the while working to improve your family's financial security." Be sure you have the commitment to devote the necessary time to building your business. Having a high level of personal energy is important.

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