Points to Ponder Before Taking the Plunge
There are a number of places you can take quizzes to see if you would make a good entrepreneur. The Small Business Administration has one on its Web site (www.sba.gov/starting/indexsteps.html). There’s a really good one for men or women on a Web site for the Online Women’s Business Center, a public-private partnership affiliated with the SBA (www.onlinewbc.org/docs/starting/test.html). Here are some of the questions they suggest you answer before starting your own business:
- Are you willing to invest 50, 60 or 70 hours a week to run a business?
- Are you self-motivated?
- Are you a risk-taker?
- Do you have business skills or experience?
- Are you willing to risk your savings on the venture?
- Is your family supportive of the time and money you’ll have to spend?
- Do you have a network of friends or business associates who can help provide outside financing?
- Do you have a product or service that is in demand?
- Do you know who the competition is?
- Does your business have some advantage over existing firms?
- Are you persistent in the face of adversity?
- Do you have a strong personal need to succeed?
- Are you adaptable, and do you learn from your mistakes?
- Are you willing to undergo sacrifices to gain long-term rewards?
These quizzes are good as far as they go, but I think there are a number of important questions they are leaving out. As someone who has been an entrepreneur since the age of four, when I went door-to-door selling newspapers, I feel qualified to contribute some additional questions. Feel free to give this quiz to any enthusiastic would-be business owner, especially if he or she is putting the bite on you for a startup loan.
- Are you aware of just how many government entities, agencies and bureaus will demand a piece of the gross (not net) income of your new business?
- Are you willing to spend several hours a week filling out paperwork for said bureaucrats?
- Are you easily upset by ignorant, arrogant people (see above) telling you how to run your business?
- Are you willing to pay yourself last, after you pay your employees, the government, your insurance agent, your landlord and other fixed expenses, your suppliers, and everyone else under the sun? If so, how long will your savings last?
- Are you willing to spend a whole lot less time sleeping? (Besides extra time spent working and filling out forms, remember to factor in time lost tossing and turning the day before you have to make payroll).
- Are you willing to “seize the day” each and every day, even when: a) it’s perfect golfing weather; b) you have a rotten cold; and/or c) your personal life is going to hell in a handbasket?
- Would you be willing to humble yourself in front of your least favorite brother-in-law in order to get a short-term loan to get over a rough spot?
- Are you willing to stick up for yourself when no one else will?
- Do you have the fortitude to refuse to put all your non-qualified nieces and nephews to work because they can’t find a job anywhere else?
- Are you willing to join organizations that benefit small businesspeople, and contribute time and money to support political candidates and measures that will help business?
- Would you rather be broke and free, or comfortable and a wage slave? Percolate this idea in your brain awhile, and give an honest answer.
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you have three choices: a) begin investigating ways to start your own business; b) contact a licensed therapist for some industrial-strength psychological counseling; c) all of the above.