Ready to launch your own business in 2015? You’re not alone: Each year at CorpNet we see an uptick of new businesses formed in January. The New Year marks a new beginning, and what can be more fulfilling and exciting than making things happen with your own business?
As a serial entrepreneur myself, I wouldn’t trade the opportunities and exhilaration for anything in the world, but I also realize that launching and running a business isn’t for everyone. While you can’t prepare yourself for every aspect of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, here are six important questions to ask before you quit your day job and dive in:
1. What’s your motivation?
People are drawn to start their own business for a variety of business. Some hate having a boss, are tired of the morning commute, and feel they can do it better on their own. Others want to see the startup riches: get sold to Google, get tons of cash and retire early.
The problem is that wanting to be the boss or make lots of money generally aren’t viable reasons for launching a business. A true entrepreneur starts a business in order to improve people’s lives and contribute value to the world. What’s your business idea? Are you solving a common pain point or making someone’s day better? The drive to add value will sustain you when times are tough.
2. How developed is your business savvy?
A great product idea isn’t always enough to make a great business. I have seen countless examples where a brilliant “inventor,” such as a developer or artist, focuses on building the prototype or product and forgets about all other aspects of developing a business. Just because you develop something cool doesn’t mean that customers will instantly bang down your door to buy. Entrepreneurs get that.
If you think you are more of an inventor than an entrepreneur, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start your own business, but you should look for a partner with the right entrepreneurial skills and business acumen that can help turn your idea into a thriving business.
3. How thick is your skin?
When you are passionate about what you do, it is hard not to take criticism personally. And yes, it sucks to get a bad press review, rejection from an incubator program or negative feedback from customers. However, bad news and rejection are part of the game, and you can’t afford to dwell on the negative or take anything personally.
As much as possible, remove your emotion from each situation. Assess the bad news objectively. In many cases, a critique or bad news offers an important lesson on how to tweak your product, improve your pitch or bump up your customer service in order to succeed.
4. Do things need to be perfect?
If you tend to be a perfectionist, your biggest challenges will be learning to let go and taming the inner critic. Whether you are launching a product, app, website or blog, if you wait for perfection, you’ll never get out of the starting gate. Once you have gotten something to 80% or 90%, it’s go time.
Think about the posters on Facebook’s walls that say, “Done is better than perfect.” They’re not encouraging people to be mediocre, but rather to put their stuff out there for the world to see. You should always strive for the highest quality possible, but just remember that in business, like in life, things get messy, and not everything will be perfect. Waiting for perfection is always the enemy of progress.
5. Are you willing to get your hands dirty?
When you work at a company, you can call someone else when your email isn’t working, you run out of printer ink or you need to set up a customer event. However, in the very early stages of your startup, you will typically need to handle most of these activities yourself, from tech support to sales to IT.
Before setting off on your own, make sure you’ll be comfortable handling a variety of functions, including the less glamorous ones. Then, as you build your business, be on the lookout for the right opportunities to offload some of these tasks to an employee or service provider.
6. What’s your financial situation?
Depending on your business type, it can realistically take anywhere from six months to six years to build out your business, gain traction and turn a profit. You need to ask yourself if you have both the patience and financial situation to weather this kind of time frame.
In many cases, the best time to lay the groundwork for your startup is when you’re working at another job and have some kind of income coming in. When you’re getting a steady paycheck from another source, you have the freedom to experiment and build out your product before going solo.
You can’t prepare yourself for every aspect of launching a business, but asking yourself these questions upfront can help you objectively assess how prepared you are to handle the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Don’t let a question or two scare you away from following your dreams, but be honest and take those extra steps to address where you’re coming up short.
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