When to know you’re ready to start your own business

Have you got a great idea for a business; one you believe in with all your heart? On some days you are absolutely certain that it’s time to follow your dreams, but on other days the doubt and the fear stop you in your well-intentioned tracks.

Some of the most common uncertainties relate to the potential loss of financial security, fear of failure, fear of success (yes, really) and lack of emotional support.

If you are close to making a decision between the security of your day job and the depths of the unknown, here’s the check-list you’ve been waiting for.

What’s your motivation?

It’s important to be aware of what appeals to you most; the idea of managing a business, or building a business. The excitement should be about the opportunity to build something based on a cause that is significant to you.

Building a business requires an ongoing level of sustained passion that managing and maintaining a business from a corporate position requires less of.

To be an entrepreneur, you need to have a tolerance for immense risk and the ability to wear a lot of hats. Inherently in a smaller, emerging enterprise you will be called upon to do the mundane and unexpected. So, if you want to be a specialist in one thing only, then managing a business via your day job is probably what you’re built for.

Watch for the signs

If you are waking up in the morning thinking about that day’s to-do list rather than the next three months, or three years, you might be ready to leave your job and go it alone. If this short-term focus means you are merely maintaining something, rather than building it, it’s time to get out!

You can explain your idea succinctly

When discussing a scientific theory, Albert Einstein is supposed to have remarked to a colleague that a child should be able to understand it. The same is true of your business.

If you can explain your idea clearly and with confidence over and over again and see that your audience understands your vision, then you can probably stop reading now, register your business and get things moving.

If you can’t, then it might be back to the drawing board, even if just temporarily.

You have emotional maturity

Before starting a business, every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves some tough questions, starting with whether they are mature enough to run a business. Be honest. Are you ready to lead? Can you keep your head and steady the ship when things go wrong? Are you ready to be a responsible boss and business partner, potentially accountable for the livelihoods of other people? If you waiver on even one of those questions, then the time is not right.

Business relationships without the support of a raft of colleagues can be daunting and you must be 100% sure that you are ready to deal with the challenges and intricacies of those relationships. Age and experience do have a part to play here but this really comes down to emotional maturity. There are some 20-year-olds who you could trust with a Fortune 500 company and some 50-year-olds who couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

You have sufficient experience

Despite the success stories such as Zuckerberg et al, 20-something billionaire business owners are rare. The vast majority of those who build successful companies have years of experience behind them. This is perfectly logical. Most in the world of business have spent years observing its inner workings – mistakes, wins and the character traits of those who succeed. This, coupled with the hands-on experience that comes from a decade or so of negotiating, selling, project managing, interviewing, hiring, managing cash flow and so on is what usually gives the older entrepreneur a distinct advantage.

You have a history of getting results

Whatever the field – sport, academia, the arts, sales – if you have a long history being the best at what you do, then there’s a good chance that trend will continue once you are running your own business. This mindset goes a long way when dealing with the knockbacks that are part and parcel of being an entrepreneur.

That said, there are CEOs who have gone it alone and failed miserably. Equally, there are countless stories out there of MBA students who are completely incapable of building their own companies. So it’s not an exact science. But if you are one of those who typically sees success in everything you do, then it stands to reason that you have a better shot than most.

You were entrepreneurial even as a kid

Did you set up a stand on the corner selling lemonade, or hawk your soccer cards to the highest bidder? There are plenty of early displays of entrepreneurial spirit throughout the business world. Take multi-billionaire Warren Buffet: At six-years-old, Buffet would buy sticks of gum from his grandfather’s store and sell them door-to-door. While not all juvenile candy salesmen always go on to be billionaires, striking a deal and making a sale is addictive. And if you did it back then, it’s likely still with you.

Small Business Advice

Small Business Advice is a free and confidential advice service offered by Ireland’s business community to help businesses grow. 1,250 small businesses have benefited from the Small Business Advice Programme. For more information call 021 421 1433 or Apply Online today

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