When the idea of owning your own business comes to mind, excitement is likely your first feeling. You think of all the positive outcomes — making your own schedule, having no one to report to and, of course, earning lots of money!
But starting a business is no easy feat, and it shouldn’t be something you dive right into. We’ve asked successful business owners what to ask yourself before starting a business. Your answers will help determine whether you’re up for the long, challenging road ahead or if you’re better off honing your skills and applying them to someone else’s business.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to determine whether you have what it takes to be a successful business owner:
When you have your own business, there’s no boss or manager to tell you what to do and when to do it. To get your business off and running, you’ll have to motivate yourself to get things started. Businesses provide constant challenges. If you enjoy a good challenge, it will energize you. If you don’t, you may end up feeling as though you’re engaged in a constant uphill battle.
Business is inherently a risk because you're not guaranteed to succeed. You will also take smaller risks along the way with marketing strategies or products that could fail. As well, true entrepreneurs understand they need to make sacrifices now to prosper later. Everything worth having takes time, and that holds true to business.
Business is a long series of failures with, hopefully, a few successes. The trick is to find the successes and run with them. It is very easy for the failures to weigh you down. When this happens, you second guess and don't try the next thing for fear of failing again. This paralysis will lead to ultimate failure, since you'll never find the win. Separating your self-worth from the business is essential. Failures are only learning experiences.
Not everyone is going to see the value your company is adding, and that's to be expected. As long as you are motivated by your passion and can convince a few of the heavy hitters in your field that your idea is a good one, go full steam ahead! If you are hesitant because you are scared of failing, this is a sign you're not committed enough to your idea. If you don't believe in it, who else will?
Business owners often have to juggle lots of hats. Inventory the abilities you already possess, and think about all the ways you can use them to grow your business will make the juggling easier.
It's also important to have the basic blocking and tackling in each area of business – sales, marketing, technology, accounting, finance, etc. A big surprise to a lot of people who start companies is how much time they need to spend selling to be successful. You need to be a jack of all trades, because a big miss in any of these areas can be company killing.
Being in business is all about solving problems – they never go away! Instead, as soon as you've resolved one issue, the next one arises. You don't need to be an expert in all areas, but you do need to be prepared to dive into all areas, research, ask experts and, ultimately, implement a solution.
By far, the scariest part of owning your business (and starting it) is income insecurity. After I incorporated my business and set-up my website, I had a panic moment of realizing the number of clients I had at that point was ZERO. I understood that starting a business takes time, but I really had to tap into my inner self-confidence and survive those feelings of self-doubt that come along with not having a steady salary.
Starting a business, depending on the industry, can take anywhere from six months to three or more years to get much traction. If you plan on building a big business, it will probably take 10 years. The thing that it is most similar to is raising a child, and like raising a child, you have to be in the right mindset and understand what you are getting into.
For me, finding clients was about the hustle. My strategy was to put as many feelers out as possible until work started coming in, and this strategy worked. I got my first few clients from a combination of my professional contacts and cold calling. It's important for business owners to develop multi-pronged strategies to bring in sales, don’t just rely on one method of finding clients.
Regardless of what type of business you're thinking of starting, you need to know how to sell. And perhaps more importantly, you need to be prepared to spend a large portion of your time selling. Sales usually becomes the hardest part of most businesses.
Do you know exactly who your customer is? It's just so important to get out there and speak to your customers to get feedback. There are many times where businesses are marketing their product to the wrong target market. The buyers turn out to be a different audience, and that's who your actual target market is. Thus making it important to evolve with your market.
Are you still in the start-up phase of your business? Tell us how you answered these questions in the comments section below.