Be honest with yourself. There has been a moment when the thought of starting your own business crossed your mind. You're not alone. Perhaps it's the dream of great wealth that sparks your interest in becoming an entrepreneur. Or, maybe you're seeking a stronger sense of job security. It's possible that you simply can't stand working for somebody else. Many are lured into visions of entrepreneurship because they dream of having their time be their own. Instead of putting in countless hours to build someone else's business you can experience the full benefit of your own blood, sweat and tears.
Whatever the reason, there is no doubt our country is experiencing an entrepreneurial revolution. According to the United States Small Business Administration, new business start-ups have numbered 600,000 per year during the past 10 years. Before you take the leap into the rewarding world of entrepreneurship, take the time to understand what you are really getting into.
1. You need more than a great idea. Nobody says it better than billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban who was recently quoted as saying, "It's not about the idea, it's about how prepared you are. Everyone has ideas, most don't do the work required to get the job done."
To be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to have an insatiable drive with a solid plan. Taking the time to develop a concrete business plan you are committed to is a must. Successful entrepreneurs simply don't accept failure as an option and they work harder than everyone else. Repeated failure is a reality of any successful business. Before you set out on your own, ask yourself if you have the guts to continuously get back up and find another way each time someone stops you from driving forward.
2. Know what you're doing and who you're doing it for. Many failed business attempts have been the result of someone venturing into an industry they know very little about. Loving a general topic such as beauty is not enough to make you a reliable expert who can start a successful cosmetic line. You need to have some solid expertise and credentials behind you so that you can effectively make critical decisions that will drive you forward. Everything in your industry that happens outside of your business will affect your company. The more you know, the more advantages and protection you'll have.
Of course, knowing your customer is another critical component. Market research is one of the most important things you can do. Far too many people start businesses without ensuring there are actually people out there who are looking to buy their product. Don't spend a penny on your business until you thoroughly understand your target market. What is the size? Who are your customers? Is your product or service significant to their everyday life? Why do they need it?
3. Ask yourself, are you really motivated enough? Many people are excited about starting their own business, only to later realize they're in over their heads. Being a business owner is not a nine to five job. It can be downright lonely, stressful and draining on you and your loved ones as you immerse yourself into developing your business. The level of personal sacrifice is significant and it is worth considering before you take the leap. You will invest substantially more time and personal finances than you ever did at your regular job. Although your long-term earning potential is much better if you run your own business, it is going to take time to get there. It typically takes an average of three years before you reach a point where you can replace your income from your job with your income from your business. During this time you will need to be in a position to get by with much less money than you may have been accustomed to prior to your venture.
4. Find a mentor. Business ideas and savvy from a reliable outsider will help catapult your "ok" concepts into greatness. A good mentor will help you think through your ideas and suggest ways to avoid trouble long before you would have noticed it yourself. Many communities have groups of seasoned executives who meet monthly to mentor new and existing business owners in their ventures. Do some digging and check out what your community has to offer.
Elizabeth P. Cipolla is a business communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, professional development and executive coaching for more than 13 years. She brings leadership experience from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.changeagentsee.com