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long-standing goal that so many aspired to, and ultimately reached, has
been replaced with a new goal -- becoming a business owner.
at first glance it sounds perfect: leave the corporate world behind and
become an entrepreneur. no more commuting, office politics, difficult
co-workers and demanding supervisors. you'll be your own boss and reap
all the financial rewards. it will be a brand-new lifestyle with
incredible opportunities and much less stress.
others have achieved the new "american dream." look at the young kids
who started apple on a shoestring in the late 1970s. don't forget the
two engineers who launched a little company called hewlett packard out
of a small backyard garage. mrs. fields took a cookie recipe -- of all
things -- and built it into a national model that is taught in many
why not you? yes, you could have the next great business idea, but that
alone might not be enough. ask yourself, do you have the right stuff to
launch and run a successful business? here are five questions to
consider before making the big leap from a steady paycheck to business
1. are you a self-starter?
with no one looking over your shoulder, it's easy to procrastinate. you
must have the discipline that is needed to plan, set goals and stay
since many small businesses initially start out as home-based to keep
overhead low, working from home brings additional distractions. can you
resist the temptation to eat cookies and watch reruns of "law and
order"when you should be making marketing calls?
2. what are your expectations?
if your goal is to work fewer hours and feel less stress, then think again.
the u.s. small business administration estimates that business
ownership requires a tremendous commitment, with 12-hour workdays, often
seven days a week. needless to say, this can be a strain on family
life. if you think it might be too much, then consider a job change
instead or a new career with an established company rather than
launching your own business.
3. what are your financial goals?
in the short-term your income will probably be lower, and it could stay
this way for a long time. additionally, no one pays for vacations,
health care plan, profit sharing or stock options. you must set up your
own retirement plan as well.
the u.s. small business administration offers some sobering statistics.
it reports that half of the small businesses started will fail within
the first year. furthermore, by the fifth year 95 percent will have
ceased operations. while the reasons for failure vary, one of the most
common is a lack of adequate financing. to beat the odds, meet with an
independent accountant to honestly discuss your finances and
expectations. the good news is that if your business takes off you will
reap the financial benefits.
4. are you a "water-cooler person"at heart?
when you become a business owner, your days of taking a long lunch or
chatting with the guys around the water cooler are over. can you make
the transition from "worker bee"to boss? it can be lonely.
on your own, you'll be making countless decisions every day -- from the
mundane to the critical. and, you alone must shoulder the daily ups and
downs that come with running a business. however, it can also have
tremendous rewards in that you are building something from scratch. so,
if you believe you can weather the isolation and roll with the punches,
you might be a good candidate for owning your own business.
5. can you create an organized environment?
where you work is certainly important. you'll need an acceptable work
space and the right office tools in order to be creative and successful.
even more important, however, is how you work.
for example, you can have an incredible sales presentation with the
latest technology that will wow clients, but if you're constantly late
for meetings and lose important documents, you'll probably also lose
business. ask yourself if you can flourish in an environment where
creativity and operational systems are equally important? many
entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking the company will simply "run
itself"if they just come up with great ideas and business leads. they
pay scant attention to the details of building a business. too often
this is a recipe for failure.
to be a success, you must combine your fantastic ideas and business tools with solid planning and organization.
success for any new business is never guaranteed. there are too many
variables, and many factors will be totally out of your control. but you
can avoid making a costly mistake by asking yourself, honestly --
before you take the plunge: do i have what it takes to run a business?
the answer should tell you if the new "american dream"is the right fit
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