The entrepreneurial life can be very alluring. Controlling your own schedule, working on your own passions, and making an impact in your own unique way are all common sirens that have perpetually beckoned unsuspecting employees into the world of self-employment for time out of mind.
But before you take the plunge into the entrepreneurial world, it’s important to slow down and think for a moment. Take the time to ask yourself the tough questions and do your homework from the start if you want to successfully avoid dashing your fledgling business on the rocks.
Start With Yourself
There are several distinct characteristics that set successful entrepreneurs apart from those on the more common employee career path.
- Entrepreneurs are typically passionate about their work (even if it becomes monotonous).
- They also maintain a forward-thinking mindset and refuse to get bogged down by adversity.
- Most entrepreneurs are naturally life-long learners that are always absorbing more information.
Along with these basic characteristics, it’s important to consider your own unique temperament. Can you stay healthy while working at home or largely on your own? Physical and mental health takes work, especially when you’re the boss.
In addition to basic health concerns, have you developed the critical soft skills often associated with entrepreneurship? For instance, ask yourself these questions before starting your business:
- Are you good at managing your time well?
- Can you delegate when necessary?
- Are you able to make difficult decisions?
It’s always wise to start with a thorough review of your own personality, characteristics, and proclivities before making as large a life decision as starting a business.
Check With Your Loved Ones
While the most important person in this equation is yourself — after all, you’re going to be the one taking on the risk and responsibility of launching and running a business — it’s also important to consider those around you.
Talk over your plans with a spouse, partner, and any dependents that may be significantly affected by your choice.
Will they be okay with you working at home more? What about the possibility of long hours spent on the job, away from home? Check with your loved ones before any major decisions are made.
If you’ve decided that you and your loved ones are, indeed, ready for your entrepreneurial venture, it’s time to get things going.
The first and, arguably, the most important step in the entire setup process is defining your goals. Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to fight against poverty? Do you want to simply have a flexible schedule? What do you define as genuine success for yourself?
If you don’t set these benchmarks at the beginning, it’s easy to run away with the success you find along the way and ultimately become an Ebeneezer Scrooge-type, fixated on an open-ended pursuit of prosperity.
Along with establishing clear goals, take this time to definitively find your industry or niche. Consider your own passions and then conduct market research to find that happy place where your interests and the needs of consumers meet.
Consider Your Finances
Next, you’re going to want to consider your financial situation. What will it cost to launch your business? How can you obtain the funds?
Make sure to take into account your current personal operating expenses as well. If you find things will be tight, do what you can to reduce your living costs for the time being. For instance, while you should still try to eat healthy food, you may be able to refinance your student loans in order to free up cash in the short-term.
Along with loans and personal expenses, consider how large of a customer base you will need in order to live off of your business. Try to gauge this before quitting a full-time job or any other source of income.
Set Up Your Business
At this point, you’re ready to begin setting things in motion. Before diving into the day-to-day operations of your business, though, it’s important to consider a few critical challenges that most startups face:
- What will your business structure be? Are you going to incorporate your company? Will you go for nonprofit status? Will you remain a sole proprietor?
- Are there any legal concerns you should be aware of? Legal business requirements often change depending on the country, state, county, and town that you’re operating out of. Do you need to pay quarterly taxes? Do you require any certifications or licenses to operate?
- Have you chosen a name for your company? This may sound like a quick, fun task, but you should pump the brakes before simply choosing the first name that comes to mind. Make sure it reflects who you are, distinguishes you from the competition, is unique, and will hold up over the long term. Also, make sure customers will resonate with your name rather than be confused by it.
- Do you need to further educate yourself? A passion is an excellent starting point, but is there any more information or training you need in order to succeed in your industry?
- Do you need any specific tools to succeed? Each business operates differently. What software, hardware, or other operating tools will your company need in order to get off the ground?
Don’t Look Back
Finally, once you’ve considered all of the different factors, obtained your financing, done your homework, and prepped everything to launch, it’s time to move forward with energy and a focus on what’s ahead. Remember, a successful entrepreneur is forward-thinking. As you officially launch your new startup, you can move forward with bold confidence, knowing that you’ve dotted your i’s, crossed your t’s, and set yourself up for success.
Of course, you’ll run into both expected and unexpected challenges as you go along. However, you’ll never have to wonder if you started your business without both carefully considering what you were trying to create and how to go about turning it into a reality in the best way possible.
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