This headline should read: “Do you really have what it takes to start your own business?”
That’s not designed to be a taunt so you actually start a business because you have an oversized ego. It’s meant to be a reality check.
It’s hard to count how many times over the last couple of years since I started my own business that friends and acquaintances ask:
“I have an idea, now what?”
Over time I’ve come to realize that many are simply asking:
“How do I get rich quick without hardly any effort?”
The simple truth is:
“Entrepreneurship is the hardest job you will ever have. Wusses need not apply.”
Below are some questions to ask yourself to help make sure you have what it takes and the proper motivation to start a business.
Here’s why? The last thing I’d want is for you to waste the precious time, treasure and talent you have on something that is going to fail miserably.
So here goes …
First Key Question:
Why do you want to start a business?
Think about that for a moment. Start writing down what comes to mind. What are your motivations and reasons for wanting to start a business.
Do you want to:
- Get rich quick?
- Live the good life?
- To be your own boss and work whenever you want
- To travel
- To be adored by millions?
- To be the next Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, or Facebook or Google
Unfortunately, I have bad news for you if you answer this first key question with those reasons above.
Let me unpack and dismantle those reasons for a second based on my own experiences as an entrepreneur …
- Get rich quick? If this is your primary motivation, then you’re a short timer and probably don’t have the perseverance to keep going when you don’t hit the jackpot in your first day of business. (Facebook, Google, everybody has had their share of adversity and struggle and those are the big big boys. And none of them claim to have all of their success happen over night.)
- If you’re looking for overnight success … you have better odds and will create less damage by buying a lottery ticket in my humble opinion. (Note: I think buying lottery tickets is a bad idea and poor stewardship of your money, by the way.)
- Being your own boss? You might not have a “boss” over you … but you do have a boss. They are called your clients and customers. They are the real boss because they make your paycheck happen. If you don’t understand that, you’re probably going to give terrible customer service and they will vote you out of business (by going elsewhere with their money).
- Work whenever you want? Try every day for the first year …. 60, 70, 80 hour weeks in the first year alone. My business friends who have had great success all will tell you that they worked their butts off in the first year. And still do years after!
- To travel? I travel quite a bit … you know what I see? Taxi cabs, airports, hotels, conference rooms and scenery flashing by at 60 mph.
- Be adored by millions? Depending on what business you’re in, millions is something typically reserved for rockstars who did their time playing at bars and little venues with little or no money until they finally got noticed. Even then it was probably years before they did. But if you’re looking to be adored this way, take your ego to the music or film industry.
Here’s how I answered the question “Why do I want to start a business?” … and continue to answer it ….
Whatever I do, I want to understand and love what I do … so for me, my business helps me:
- Build a secure future for me, my family and my team
- Provide something of value to the world
- Obtain creative freedom and somewhat control my own destiny
- Build the ultimate workplace and job I’ve always wanted and dreamed of
- Build a business that outgrows and outlasts me
- Leave a legacy
- Use it to live all my dreams (write a book, lead a company, see above)
- To live life without regrets … to launch my dream and not just talk about it
Second Key Question:
What are your life goals and objectives?
This is a big broad question, I know.
So here are some more specific questions:
- What do you want to do with your life? In general. (BTW, I don’t think there’s just ONE thing, one career, one job. It can and will change over time as you figure out what it is you truly like and enjoy.)
- What are your one year, 5 year and lifelong goals?
- What’s on your bucket list? (I used this awesome Bucket List article in August 2010 during a personal sabbatical to reflect on what MY bucket list was.)
- How do you want to spend what time, energy, talent and treasure you have while you have them?
- What makes you most happy? What brings you the most joy?
- What type of work or situation makes you most happy? (What were your childhood dreams?)
- What kind of life are you seeking to build for you and your family?
- What cause or interest stirs you up most?
- What financial goals do you have?
- What do you want your work life to look like? (Home at 5? Work from home? Lead a team?)
- What are you naturally good at but don’t realize?
- Who are the most important people in your life? And how do you want to be remembered by them?
- What legacy do you want to leave?
- What compelling vision do you have for the future? Your personal? Your family? Your business field? Your city? State? Country? World?
- How do you want to change the world personally? What is your purpose?
And here’s a parallel and vitally important side question which runs alongside these…..
What about your spouse or significant other?
How does or would your spouse or significant other answer the questions above?
Your partner (if you have one) is key to all of this. Without a supportive and encouraging spouse or significant other, it will make an ordinarily hard job turn into a potentially nightmare one.
Thus, you need to spend some time with your significant other and ask what are his or her life goals. Go through these questions with that person. Plan to spend some time away together talking, dreaming, debating, and solidying your startup hopes and dreams together.
Now for the ultimate #boom question … the pivotal third big question … having thought about and discussed all the above …
How does starting a business help you achieve your life goals?
Or does it?
Let me ask this question differently:
Would your life goals, objectives and purpose be better fulfilled in another role or job?
Be honest and realistic. Why spend time and energy on something that might no be as effective or efficient at obtaining your life goals?
The Fourth Key Big Question
Is this for you?
If you think this is really for you? Then how about this one …
What are you willing to give up or sacrifice for it?
Is your business dream motivating enough to work long, hard hours? Would you be willing to sacrifice season tickets to your favorite sports team …. or worse, missing occasional important moments with the people most important to you … in pursuit of your startup dream?
Heavy thoughts to consider, right?
The Final Key Question
So now … once you’ve really done some soul searching for a couple of days or even weeks. And talked with your significant other, the big question now becomes one final one …
ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?
Often I say “I was at the right time, at the right place, with the right partners, and I was READY.”
Do you have the commitment, focus, skills, time, energy, support, money, passion, vision, resources necessary to launch your business dream?
If not … I have some really, really good advice for you: Get them … or stop now.
A Final Word, Maybe, Of Inspiration
I hope asking these questions has pushed you …. hopefully I’ve scared you or humbled you but more importantly made you think deep about your life and how it translates to a business startups.
Now I want to inspire you …..
“Entrepreneurship is the hardest job I have ever had … but it’s also the most fulfilling, fun, rewarding job I’ve ever had.”
My dream of being an entrepreneur was one started when I was a teenager watching two entrepreneurial grandfathers in their family-owned and operated businesses.
Since January 2008 when I realized that dream, it’s been a true roller coaster of a ride.
Just like a roller coaster ride, entrepreneurship is filled with ups and downs … and all arounds!
In business, I have experienced the highest of highs … seeing your products launch and be successful, hearing customers say they love what you do and working a job you love every day. I’ve also experienced the lowest of lows … having to let people go, seeing others take your hard work and steal or rip you off, or the occasional customer who throws up on you.
But through it all … I have to say … it’s one heck of a ride!
Each day, month and year … I learn more and more about this wonderful ride called entrepreneurship and how to take the ups with the downs and just enjoy the view as I go.
Be something you love and understand …..
I have created my ultimate job. It changes and offers new challenges almost every day. I see how it impact my world and those around me. And as I look back, I see something I helped build, something I can look back on, see how it provided for me, my team and our customers …. and that I can be proud of.
So if this roller coaster is for you … I highly suggest you get in …. buckle up … hold on … and enjoy the ride!