Making the Jump Into Self Employment, 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Entrepreneurship
So you have decided that you want to be an Entrepreneur, and better yet an entrepreneur who works from home. You have your extra bedroom, or den, properly converted into a home office. You have a credit account set up at the local big box office chain and visions of laptopping at your neighborhood coffee shop or sitting at your desk while wearing your fuzzy bunny slippers seem much more appealing than your current commute – follow orders – dodge office gossip – look busy – watch the clock – commute, routine. Assuming that you have already done your due diligence on your business of choice, here are ten tough questions to ask yourself before you get started;
1) Do you have a plan in place?
The majority of businesses that succeed and show rapid growth start out with a solid business plan. Many different business plan templates exist online and free counseling assistance may be available to help you with this through agencies such as the SBA or SCORE. A little research on the internet will yield a great deal of information on this subject. There are several types of business plans which can be used for acquiring financing, establishing and maintaining a company direction, or planning for hurdles before they appear. If you are thinking, “my business has no employees and it’s just me working from home,” I will tell you this: You still need a plan in place. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive enough to satisfy the SBA, buy it does need to address questions like “what are my monthly goals and how will I achieve them?”, and “what are my best case and worst case sales scenarios and am I set up to handle them?” The age old credo of Hope For The Best While Planning For The Worst applies here.
2) Do I work hard when I work for someone else?
This might be the hardest question of all to ask yourself. Be honest. When you are on someone else’s dime, do you work hard for them? Remember that this is not an interview question, you are only answering to yourself, and an honest answer may save you a lot of heartache in the future. Working for yourself is similar to working for a boss. If you do not enjoy hard work while under the scrutiny of an employer, then most likely you will not enjoy hard work when reporting to yourself. And worse yet, slacking or not giving 100% will result in a loss of your money. Self discipline is the number one asset that you will need as an entrepreneur, and if you don’t have it in the workplace, you probably will struggle when self – managing, which leads us to number three.
3) Can I self-manage?
As if working hard was not enough, as an entrepreneur working from home you are now not only the employee, but also the manager. Think about the best manager you’ve ever had. What did they do to motivate you? What is it that will light a fire under you and provide an incentive to get the job done? If you have never been in a role where you were required to self – manage your time, resources, finances and projects, you may be in for a shock. I’ve always said that to be an entrepreneur you need to train as a clown, a fireman and a dentist, because you are always juggling, fighting fires and many times, moving the business forward is like pulling teeth! Working from home takes discipline. After all, your home is where you have relaxed and spent family time up until now, so you will need to completely change your paradigm regarding what you do when at home. Set schedules and forge new routines. Keep your work related routines such as waking up early to your alarm, showering and getting dressed for the day, and even though you now work in the next room, go to work. Your new home office is now your job. When you are there, be at work. Take a scheduled lunch break and then head back to the office when you are done. Self – managing is all about setting and keeping good habits and can mean the difference between success and failure.
4) Am I organized?
Remember, you are now the boss. You no longer need to worry about the footsteps coming down the hall to your cubicle with the demands of timely results and better organization. What you need to worry about now is paying your bills on time, making a living and keeping your company afloat. A lack of organization can lead to lost productivity, inefficient processes, dissatisfied customers, elevated stress levels, and lost opportunities. If you are not an organized person, become one immediately. The best way to do this is to have a place for everything. Don’t let things pile up or linger. Get them done right away. If you look around you and feel overwhelmed by everything that you have to do, organization is your only way to dig out.
5) Am I a jack-of-all-trades, or a master of one?
Working for many years as a business consultant, I often found small business owners struggling to find ways to fill all of the roles in their company. I have worked with many doctors, attorneys, architects and engineers that are masters of their profession, but they can not run a profitable business. Running a successful office has nothing to do with drawing up building plans, or helping patients, or winning a trial. It has to do with running an office. Most of the professionals that I’ve mentioned above find great success by hiring a good office manager who knows how to multi-task. As a work from home entrepreneur, you probably will not have this luxury and you will need to be not only the bread-and-butter of your operation, but also the knife, fork and plate. I have witnessed many successful entrepreneurs answering phones, taking out trash, cleaning the toilets, balancing their books, making outside sales calls and stuffing envelopes. I have done these things myself, and I still do them. Be proud of the skills you have mastered, but be aware that the longer you can perform a task yourself without taking away from the growth of the business, the longer you can go without paying someone else to do it.
6) Am I willing to take big risks?
A good friend of mine who races motorcycles once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who take the big risks, and those who watch them standing on the winner’s podium. Being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks. Some risks you will be faced with are quitting your job, leaving the safety of a steady paycheck and benefits, investing money in a high-risk start up venture, taking on new tasks such as self – management, sales, or telemarketing, bringing a new product or service to market and even the simple act of making the decision you are now contemplating is a risk. Be ready to adjust your lifestyle, make personal sacrifices, cut back on your income, put in more money than you expected, and most importantly, be ready to change your plan on a dime. The market is ever changing and true risk takers are willing to change with it. Owning your own business is a lot like gambling. You win some and you lose some and the bigger you bet the more you stand to win… or lose. The difference is that this is not Vegas and the house does not always win. YOU can stack the deck in your favor with hard work and tenacity.
7) Can I adjust my lifestyle quickly if I have to?
You’ve heard the term, “the bigger they are the harder they fall”? If you are living on an executive level salary and your expenses match that salary, make some adjustments. Being an entrepreneur often times means that your income may not arrive to you fluidly. There may be times of feast and times of famine. Plan ahead for this by banking money during the good times and tightening the belt during the slow times. You may need to liquidate some assets in order to have cash on hand for emergencies, and you may not be able to grow your lifestyle like you have previously. Remember that the market can change without warning, and big numbers today don’t always mean big numbers tomorrow.
8) Am I a manager, or a do-er, and can I be a good mix of the two?
I recall vividly having been promoted up the ranks from a production employee to my first management job. My boss at the time, who was the Plant Manager told me, “you have to become a manager and stop being a do-er”. What he had noticed is that when my department became stressful, I would retreat to my area of comfort, which was my old role as a production employee. This endeared me to the production crew as a boss who was not afraid to get my hands dirty, but ultimately did my department a disservice. Later in my career I passed this bit of information on to managers that I was training, and got them to manage instead of always retreating to their comfort zone tasks. When I launched my very first home based business, I found that I needed to both manage and do, and regardless of my many years in management, time spent as a business consultant, a management trainer and a small business owner, I found myself sitting at my modest desk in my home office and retreating to the tasks that I felt most comfortable doing. When I finally found my balance of managing my time, managing the business and doing the tasks that need to get done, everything clicked into place and the business became successful. Finding this balance of manager and do-er is critical to home based success.
9) Can I sell?
Probably the second hardest question to ask yourself, and you may answer by saying that you have started a business that doesn’t involve selling. Well, I urge you to ask yourself again, “can I sell?” because it doesn’t matter what business you are in, you will need to sell. If you still insist that the business you are jumping into does not require you to have any sales skills, go back to the top of this article and begin your due diligence again. “Selling” doesn’t always mean putting on a milwaukee brewers hawaiian shirt and tie and going from business to business handing out business cards and shaking hands. Selling can be speaking to your peers at a Rotary meeting, or chatting with someone in the grocery aisle about your business. It may mean upselling your client to a bigger or better package when they place their order with you. Sales skills will even help you when you get to the point where you need to hire employees because sales skills are people skills, and business owners with superior people skills run superior operations. This question can be humbling, but ask it of yourself constantly, and add to it: “What can I do to sell better?”
10) What is my motivation?
What is it that makes you want to own your own business? Is it money? Is it security? Do you just plain hate your job? Maybe you are tired of making someone else rich and you think that you can do it better. There are many reasons that people decide that entrepreneurship is their calling, but having been self employed for many years I have realized that there is really only one reason to make the jump. Think the question again in your head, “Why do I want to be self employed?” If the answer that popped into your head was, “Because I was made to be an entrepreneur”, and if it was immediately followed by, “no matter what it takes”, then you are ready.
Running a home based business is not for the faint of heart. Expect ups and downs and a lot of hard work. But it might just end up being the single most rewarding thing that you’ve ever done. Good luck on your jump into entrepreneurship!
write by Adelaide