With all the advice on the internet and the flashy lifestyles on Instagram, you might be tempted to jump into the be-your-own-boss race too. This is great, and it’s why we, discoverGREY, are here in the first place: To help entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs navigate the journey to success.
However, it’s equally important that we make you aware of the difficulties in starting a business and that you don’t start a business when you’re not ready, or if your mindset isn’t there yet. After being an entrepreneur for over 10 years and having built several successful businesses, here are the 6 questions you should ask yourself before starting a business.
1. Why you and why now?
There are about 27 million entrepreneurs in the U.S. alone and probably another 2 million added every year. Why should you be the person to execute this idea? Do you have an unfair advantage over others? Is it your industry knowledge, connections, or new technology? Figuring out what exactly your advantage is can help you formulate your business strategy and unique selling proposition (USP). If you don’t have any defendable and inherent advantage, it will be a tough road ahead, and you are fighting against the odds even more.
Also, why should you do it now? Look outward, is the market ready? Is there an opportunity here right now? I cannot count how many great startups failed because the market is just not ready for them. We’d all like to think that we are the Steve Jobs of our generation and will be able to create a product that people didn’t know they wanted. However, if you want to increase your chance at success, you should do everything to stack the odds in your favor. And when you have an unfair advantage and the market has a rising demand, this is your time to shine.
2. Are you desperate right now?
Are you having trouble paying your bills and supporting yourself right now? If so, you should NOT start a business. Because starting a business might not always require a hefty investment up front, but it doesn’t pay usually at the early stage either. Some businesses will take six months, a year, or even two before the founder can even earn a salary. Don’t believe in any get rich quick scheme. If you are too desperate, you are likely to get into bad deals, or in bed with partners you don’t want. Worse, you could make shady business deals that could land you in jail. All because you are trying to survive. So, if you don’t currently have the money, get a job. Land on your feet first.
3. Are you in it only for the money?
If all you want is to earn enough money to drive a nice car and live in a big house, you are better off getting a job. Statistically, you have a better chance of earning a higher income as a professional than as an entrepreneur. Financially, the only good thing about entrepreneurship is it gives you no income ceiling. It is incredibly demanding to be successful as an entrepreneur. So, if you don’t enjoy the work you do or the business you build, entrepreneurship is undoubtedly a nightmare. However, if you are passionate about what you are building, you’ll enjoy waking up every day ready to hustle. Dream job or nightmare, it’s all in your head.
4. Are you okay with uncertainty?
The only constant about being an entrepreneur is uncertainty. If you like knowing when the next paycheck will come, or you take comfort in clocking out after leaving the office, sorry, you have an employee mindset. If the reason for you starting a business is so that you can have more free time, you still have an employee mindset. Being a founder, you are the one calling the shots, but also when things go wrong, the buck stops with you. Be prepared to deal with angry customers, late payments, vendors not showing up, employees quitting, etc. It’s like trying to build a house while it’s on fire; you are a builder and firefighter at the same time. How you managed chaos and how you faced adversity in the past can speak a lot about you as an entrepreneur.
5. Can you sell?
If you hate selling, you are not going to like being an entrepreneur. Because your business depends on your selling. And not just to customers, but also to your vendors, employees, investors, and sometimes to yourself. You need everyone around you to buy into your vision, your product, your team, and ultimately YOU. People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy. Don’t confuse this with a sleazy used car salesman; I am talking about showmanship and storytelling (That’s for another article). When the world starts listening, will you be ready to sell the world your idea? If not, you should rethink going down this path, because the business’ survival is depending on you closing the sale.
6. What would you do when things get ugly?
They don’t call business war for no reason. You are going head-to-head with your competitors, sometimes even with your own team. Yes, you should most definitely treat your teams and customers with respect and honesty; they are the ones building your dream. Your company is as good as your team and your customers. However, it doesn’t matter how nice you are, you will inevitably get into tough situations. How will you react when your business survival depends on you firing your best friend who was your first hire? What if you caught one of your employees stealing, and you know he’s expecting a baby next month? What about when a competitor steals your idea and executes it before you get a chance?
These are not just stories; you will definitely encounter your version of ugly conflicts in your entrepreneurial journey. Do you have the stomach to face the challenge and confront the problem head-on? If not, this path is not easy, but it will unquestionably be even harder for you.
What are your answers to these six questions? I hope they make you think hard and deep about starting a business. If you feel a little shaken, it’s okay, or you feel more excited than ever, that’s great.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.