Starting your own business is part of the American dream. Who has not thought about quitting their job and joining the ranks of the self-employed? And this is even truer these days as entrepreneurs tend to be seen as the rock stars of the business world.
But that said, it is also true that starting, running, and owning a business is not for everyone. The fact is, some people are artists, some are athletes, some are meant to be doctors, some are supposed to be entrepreneurs, and others are better off as employees. No, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Are you meant to be an entrepreneur?
It is not an insignificant question as, if you choose wrong, the repercussions can be significant. In most cases, starting a business is not an inexpensive endeavor. On top of that, one risks their reputation and livelihood on the bet that the business will be successful. If it works out, great. But if it doesn’t, it could, quite literally, bankrupt you.
The best way to know is to consider what it takes to start and run a business and see if these traits fit you, your psyche, and your lifestyle. Answer these questions honestly:
Are you a risk-taker?
Entrepreneurship has been described many ways, but here is one handy definition that helps: An entrepreneur is a person willing to take a risk with money to make money. Risk is part of the job description. Are you comfortable with risk? Now, it is true that you should not take wild, crazy risks (great entrepreneurs take smart, calculated risks), but either way, you will have to take risks.
Can you live with uncertainty?
Nothing is for certain when you start your own business. It may succeed, or it may fail. You may get those big customers, and you will likely lose them too. You will not get a paycheck every two weeks. Uncertainty is also part of the game.
Are you willing to work hard?
When you own a business, you wear lots of hats. In the beginning, you will be the CEO, CFO, Head of Sales, and the Shipping Clerk, all rolled into one. It takes a lot of time and hard work to make a go of a new business, so get ready to roll up your sleeves.
Are you creative?
Figuring out how to get clients and customers, how to market your business, where to advertise, what to advertise, how to grow, and all the rest means that you will need to put on your thinking cap from Day One. No slackers need apply.
The bottom line is that entrepreneurship and starting a business is fun, exciting, and rewarding. It is also tough, challenging, and frustrating. Be sure it your psychologically fits before you put a lot of money, time and effort into it.
By Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is a senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible.