Before you quit your day job and dive into entrepreneurship, take a moment to think about this major decision. While, certainly, becoming a business owner is an exciting endeavor, it’s not for everyone. And it’s a long-term commitment. You’ll pour blood, sweat, tears, and money into a business, and if it doesn’t work out, you won’t recoup that investment.
If any of the following ring true, you might not be ready to start a business.
1. You’re passionate, but you have no plan. While passion is a cornerstone of a successful small business, it’s simply not enough. You also need a plan for how you’ll make money and grow your business. If the idea of developing such a plan bores you or stresses you out, it might not be a good fit.
2. You don’t have any money. Starting a business is not a “get rich quick” endeavor by any stretch of the imagination. It may be months — or even years — before you turn a profit, and in the meantime, you’ll need enough cash to pay your business expenses and your personal expenses.
3. You have a really neat idea, if only the market wanted it. Unless your idea solves a problem or serves a need, you’ll have a hard time finding customers for it. Remember the dad from the Gremlins movies? He was constantly inventing solutions where there were no problems. A machine that took an egg out of a bowl and cracked it simply wasn’t something the market clamored for.
4. You’ve got major life changes happening. Maybe you just got married. Or had a baby. If you’re in a transitional stage in your life, starting a business will add to the already high levels of stress you’re experiencing. Entrepreneurship might be better later down the road.
5. You just want to be your own boss. If the appeal of not having an overbearing boss to answer to is your driver for starting a business, consider this: your customers will be your new bosses. They’ll dictate what you do and how you do it. If they don’t like what you’re selling, they won’t buy it. And you won’t have the stability of a paycheck as a safety net.
6. You’re the breadwinner in your family. Shifting from one salary to support your family to an erratic, virtually existent entrepreneur’s paycheck is one many families can’t stomach. If your family finances will suffer if you quit your job, wait until you have money saved for this endeavor.
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7. You have no experience in this industry. Although you’ve worked as a lawyer for years, you’ve dreamed of opening a cupcake shop. If you’ve got rockstar baking skills, that might help you survive, but if you have no experience in leasing retail space, buying baking supplies, and managing staff, you may find yourself struggling.
8. You want to do what you love. Why would that be a reason to not start a business, you ask? The truth is, few business owners do that thing they love 40 hours a week. In the cupcake shop example, you may find that, while you really enjoy the baking portion of the work, you’re actually doing very little of that in between your admin responsibilities. You’ll be busy creating employee schedules, making deposits at the bank, and calling your suppliers. Someone else will have to handle the baking.
9. You don’t know much about business. While you don’t need an MBA to be a business owner, it helps to have a basic understanding of marketing, accounting, management, and finance. You can take continuing education courses at your local community college, read books and blogs, or simply teach yourself. But without a solid business foundation, your house of cards may crumble quickly.
10. You’re not excited enough. Going back to the first example here: you absolutely should be passionate and excited about starting a business. You should be able to see yourself working in that business for decades. You should be willing to do whatever it takes — work 80 hours a week, moonlight while keeping your day job, see your family less — to realize your dreams of business ownership. If you’re not, it’s not worth the pain of starting a business to find that out.
About Susan Payton
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts for the software industry. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as CorpNet, Small Business Trends, Chamber of Commerce, and ScheduleBase. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.