Starting and running a successful business in what you’re passionate about is one of the best ways to avoid ‘working’ for a living. In fact, it’s the ultimate professional ambition for many people with a huge number of people attempting to make it a reality every day.
Unfortunately, the majority of new enterprises fail within the first year of operation as the skills and experience required are far greater than many people assume. That’s not to say, however, that it’s not possible to make a new business a success, especially if you put in the time and effort to acquire the skills you need before you begin.
If you’re considering starting your own business, you should be able to answer each of the following questions with a resounding yes before taking the leap.
Could you be your own boss?
One of the biggest attractions to running a business is the concept of being your own boss. You’ll be able to set your own working hours and have more flexibility over your lifestyle and vacations. To a certain extent this is true, but this kind of reward tends to come later in a business’ timeline. The setting up of a business requires long hours which rarely fit the 9-5 model for several years. Businesses take a while to start turning a profit, and to reach that point, you need to have a huge amount of determination, resilience, and self-motivation.
Are you passionate about what you do?
Starting a business is difficult and you are likely to encounter a lot of hurdles and obstacles to overcome. To be able to face these day after day without giving in, you need to be passionate about your business and the wider industry. If your business is just a money-making machine, you may find that you lack the drive and spark needed to continue to push through the bad days. Are you dedicated to making your business work and passionate about the unique service or product you have to offer?
Do you have the industry experience?
Unless you’ve discovered an untapped niche or idea, it’s likely you’ll be entering an established industry with experienced competitors. This is why it’s usually best to start a business in a field related to what you already know. If you don’t have experience in the industry you’re about to enter, consider taking some time to get your experience, work on your knowledge and industry contacts before you begin.
Have you got the business skills to succeed?
If you have never run a business before it’s likely that you won’t have all the skills you will need to succeed. While this isn’t necessarily a showstopper as you can learn on the job – most find that they are always learning throughout their business career – it’s much better if you can acquire the key skills as early as possible. Take some time to work out what you already have in terms of a business skill set and where you are lacking in knowledge. These skills are often covered in depth via studying for an online Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with institutions such as Suffolk University. These skills include:
- Financial management, e.g., forecasting profits and losses, creating financial statements, accounting, taxes and calculating financial risk.
- Market research to understand your market, competitors and customer buying habits.
- Negotiation skills to ensure you achieve the best deals with suppliers or contractors.
- People skills, also known as ‘soft skills’, to enable you to communicate with and motivate your employees, resolve conflicts and build effective relationships with clients, employees and customers.
- Marketing and sales skills which will enable you to promote your business and reach sales targets.
In addition to furthering your education and seeking additional training, you can employ others to cover the areas in which you don’t have the necessary skills or natural qualities.
Are you prepared to make sacrifices?
The first years of a business are make or break and require a huge amount of hard work. This means long hours which will have a direct impact on your family and social life and any personal hobbies you have. Initially, you will probably be taking in less money (if any at all) which will mean compromising on your lifestyle choices and keeping a strict household budget. You may need to rely on savings or find an alternative source of income to support you. You may also experience higher levels of stress which can take a toll on your physical health and relationships if not managed carefully. These sacrifices need careful consideration not just by you, but also your family and/or partner. Are they prepared for the changes which need to be made for however long it takes to get the business into profit?
Can you cope with uncertainty and risk?
If you’re someone who needs stability and consistency in life, starting and running your own business may not be the best choice for you. Your success will be entirely down to your choices and it’s highly likely you won’t be able to take a salary for some time. There’s no safety net and as there are a lot of financial risks involved, you need to be as confident as possible that your business idea is viable. Savings or business start-up loans are often used by start-ups trying to support themselves until the business can turn a profit. You need to be someone who thrives under pressure and enjoys making key decisions and having responsibility.
Are you patient and resilient enough?
It should be clear to you by now that business success is not always a smooth road, so you need to be really honest with yourself about whether or not you can handle it. Patience, persistence, and resilience are key qualities you will need in order to overcome the problems and setbacks you are almost certain to encounter. Giving in when times are hard is not an option and you’ll need to be able to see challenges are opportunities for growth and development. With the right business strategy, a unique offering, passion, determination and key business skills, you can make your dream of running your own business a reality.