Lots of people will have brilliant ideas for businesses, but it takes a lot of time, effort and commitment to launch a successful business and only some people will be up to the challenge. Take a look at this list to see if entrepreneurship is for you…
1. You have worked through fear before and see it as an invitation, not a stopping point.
After spending six years as a career and business coach, I’ve met thousands of people who have big dreams but can’t get themselves to act on them due to fear of being wrong, failing, letting down their family or wasting their life chasing something that won’t work. While all of these fears are understandable, they are the exact reason so many people are not cut out for entrepreneurship. The best entrepreneurs know that fear will always exist – it’s hard wired into us – but it’s what you do with the fear that makes the difference. If you are willing to feel the fear and do the work anyway, entrepreneurship is a very real path for you.
2. You are willing to make real sacrifices - not just get rid of cable.
When people say sacrifices are a big part of growing a business, they’re not just talking about cutting out your HBO habit or getting one less car wash per month. They’re talking about sacrificing your free time, using energy you would normally spend on something else and minimising other priorities. Not every business is run the same way and the demands on the founder will always be different, but one element is consistent: in order to get your idea off the ground, you have to be willing to put in more time, work harder, and be willing to think hard about each big decision. These responsibilities require sacrificing time and energy you might want to spend with your family, friends, or favorite hobbies. Recognising that entrepreneurship will be your top priority for at least a few years is an important reality to accept.
3. You not only have ideas, you investigate their value.
I love idea people. Watching their face light up as they talk about a dream they had or a brainstorm that led to a breakthrough is by far one of my favorite encounters. However, I don’t enjoy watching people take an idea that is not researched and start investing a ton of money and time into "making it work". It may look like successful entrepreneurs had a light bulb idea moment, made their idea come to life, marketed it, and made millions over night, but there is often years of research that went into that idea, in addition to more years of behind the scenes blood, sweat, and tears that no one saw because the company was still off the map. In order to avoid spending a lot of time making something that no one wants, research your customers, learn about the market, look at competitors, and make smart, calculated decisions.
4. You are self-aware and know your weaknesses.
Self-awareness is the most important attribute an entrepreneur can possess. Recognising where you excel will take you far, but knowing your weaknesses will take you farther. The business can only be as successful as the person running it. If you know you are not good with data, financials, analysis, and strategising, why put your business in jeopardy of failing? Co-founders are great for balancing out weaknesses and can take you farther, faster. You could also recruit a board of advisors to help you fill in your strengths gap. The number of resources available is endless – the important part is knowing what you’re not good at, and then doing something about it.
5. You know your relationship with money.
This is the silent killer. If you grew up in a house where money wasn’t discussed, you haven’t put much emphasis on finances or money management, or if you are afraid of talking about money, this will be at the heart of what holds your business back. The big difference between a hobby and a business is money. Asking for it, managing it, growing it, using it to pay your bills and your staff, and seeing it as an exchange for what your product or service is worth are important areas to address before jumping into business. By ignoring this crucial piece, you will likely undervalue your work, have a hard time managing income and expenses, and create a huge amount of anxiety around putting your work into the world. Address your problem areas around money and make a commitment to working through them – your business will thank you.
6. You are okay with experiencing a wide range of emotions each day.
Business ownership is the biggest roller coaster in the world! One minute, you are excited because you got an order from a new customer. The next minute, you receive an email from an angry vendor about an overdue bill. Five minutes after that, you are asked to keynote at a prestigious conference. 10 minutes later, you are driving to a big pitch meeting hoping to secure new funding. You are constantly pulled in hundreds of directions with various needs each day. Your response is everything and your ability to handle stress and quickly assess how much attention each demand needs will be what sets you apart. If you’re not good at managing competing priorities, don’t deal well with constant change, and like to control your stress levels by minimising surprises, entrepreneurship will not be a good match for you.
7. You are okay with being wrong.
This may shock you, but you are not always right. When you are in business, you are constantly reminded of this fact. This is why research and planning are so important! While you can’t anticipate everything, making good decisions based on research and data will help alleviate the number of times you are wrong and increase the likelihood of success. However, you can’t avoid making the wrong decision at times and will have to be okay with leaving a meeting with your tail between your legs. These mistakes are growth moments for you and should be looked at as such.
While these seven ways of finding out if entrepreneurship is for you may not look like your typical list, they are all important elements of what business ownership is really like. If you are pondering this path, be sure to sit with this list and be sure that you are honest with yourself about each section. You’ll be glad you did.