With the beginning of each New Year, many people take stock in their lives and what changes they may or may not want to make. We set out to lose weight, improve our careers, spend more time with family and friends, and probably take up a new hobby or two. A few years back, the New Year goals included growing my own business for me.
I had my reasons: Independence, Flexibility, Diligence, Pride, & Passion being a few. I sifted through the ups-and-downs of growing a brand, made mistakes, and continue to do a lot of both still. I wish there was a cheat sheet when I started. Don’t get me wrong, I would never change my mind or not start my own business, I just would have loved to have these questions and tips set before me when starting.
Before Starting Your Business, Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Are you good at asking for help? Do not be TOO independent. It is a great characteristic and extremely noble to be independent, but starting a business requires help, mentorship, and often a shoulder to lean on. While being a self-starter is crucial to starting a business and staying on target, one cannot shut out those around them who can be of help. Building a new business often involves focus groups, skill-sets that are not part of your repertoire, and a solid sounding board. Do not try to be so independent that you turn away a good thing like the advice or opinion of a confidante, spouse, friend, or business mentor.
- Are you prepared to work crazy, ridiculously hard? Flexibility has a different meaning when start a small business. As a mom, one of the top reasons in creating my own opportunities was to make sure I did not miss out on Thanksgiving programs and special events with the kiddies. I do make the majority of these occasions, but it just means that I work late at night or on the wee hours of the morning to make up for lost time. There is flexibility in being your own boss, but those missed hours spill into something else like sleep. When you are driving to reach your own goals and success, it does not seem like such a sacrifice though.
- Are you afraid of getting your hands and feet dirty? Many times? This is the thing: Nothing comes easy and quick because if it does, it is too good to be true. There is no magic wand to make yourself an overnight success, just hard work and I hate to be cliche’, but baby steps. Just like raising our children, with each stage there comes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and diligence, the same can be said of building a business. Get ready for an amazing adventure with many pit stops and make sure you have a lot of steam in you because building a business takes a lot of energy, patience and persistence.
- Have you discussed your plan with your family, spouse, significant other? You may plan to do everything as you did it before whether you had a 9-5 job or were at home raising your family, but the fact of the matter is this: building your own business changes all that. Your name, reputation, and future is on the line and sometimes that blurs the line between family time and work time. Just make sure you have your family’s support. My best tip: involve each and every member in your biz, make them feel a part of your new endeavor, and be honest about you may be doing less laundry or cooking at home but that is a good thing!
- What fans your flame? Are you passionate about the business? I hear way too much that we should only start businesses that are HOT right now and not what we are passionate about. I totally disagree. It is our passion that is going to get us through the long hours, lean times, and sacrifices necessary to get up and running. It is easy to pick a HOT biz, but a lot harder to sustain something that we are not passionate about. However, do not confuse passion with hobbies. Keep your hobbies for stress relief, but understand a business is not a hobby. A business requires a lot of hard work, time, often capital, effort, and support.
I know you may be scared off right now, but DON’T be! As long as you enter your decision to start a small business with open eyes and an ever more open-mind, you will not regret your decision for one minute. If you are passionate about your idea and recognize the work needed to do it, you should strike while YOU are HOT. I do not regret for a minute what I have given up to watch my business baby grow, and my human babies beam with pride as I show them what hard discipline can create. You can do the same with a positive attitude and a willingness to persevere.