A. Don’t strike out on your own until you feel so compelled to do it, you can’t say no. I’ve seen too many would-be entrepreneurs fail miserably because they thought it would be exciting to launch a business, but they had no idea what they were getting into. They weren’t prepared for the toll it takes, and the demands in makes on your energy, your life, your checkbook, your marriage, your knowledge base, and more.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not discouraging you from entrepreneurial life. I’m saying that this is not a fun hobby or something to leap into lightly – you have to be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated, and 100% ready to do what it takes to make this work.
How can you be sure it’s something you want? During the next month, follow these 5 steps:
- Increase your knowledge Read, research and learn as much as you can about what’s required to be a successful entrepreneur. Start with the great book The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, and read the Enterpreneurial channel of Forbes.com, and other top resources that resonate with you. There are behaviors and thinking that will pave the way for success, and likewise, behaviors and thinking that will hold you back and sabotage your growth. Know what these are.
- Gain support You can’t launch a new business in a vacuum. You need lots of support. Jonathan Field’s recent blogpost How to Get Your Mojo Back and Do Big Things Today posits three types of support needed to do great things: from peers, co-strivers, and mentors or coaches. Get support on all three levels if you can, to ensure you are taking the essential steps, and remain motivated to achieve what you long for.
- Understand the “why” You need to assess all the reasons behind your desire to launch this business. Just as the publicist for my book Breakdown Breakthrough asked me, “What do you want from this book, and what do you REALLY want?” you must ask youself why you want to do this. Get to the heart of your motivation, and make sure the motivation has sticking power. If it’s outer glory or reward you’re seeking, you might want to think again. It’s a hero’s journey to make an entrepreneurial venture work, and if you want it just for the outer rewards, you may be sorely disappointed. If on the other hand, you want to be of unique service to the world and to others, this motivation is strong enough to keep you in the game for the long haul.
- Determine if you’re ready, willing and able Many people are simply not cut out for entrepreneurial life’s demands, from weathering instability and risk to being able to tell the story of your business in a highly engaging way. As Michael Gerber observes inThe E-Myth Revisited, you need to understand which of the three key roles in business you love to play, and which you might find very challenging – the technician, the manager and the visionary. To know if you’re up to the challenge, you need to understand the essence of what you want to achieve professionally, as well as the type of work that fits the other priorities of your life (money, family, timing, well-being, geography, etc.).
- Build a powerful plan Finally, when you know you’re ready to leap, you need a solid business, financial and marketing plan. You can wing it like the amazing Sara Blakely (billionaire founder of Spanx), but I wouldn’t recommend jumping without a well-laid plan. The best way to proceed is to assess fully: 1) why this business, 2) why now, 3) why me as founder, 4) how will I fund this, 5) how will I engage in the product development, marketing, financial and administrative steps required to succeed.
If you take these steps and feel excited, motivated and full of energy to make your idea a reality, I’d say you’re ready to seriously consider taking the plunge.
Kathy Caprino, founder/president of Ellia Communications, is the author of Breakdown, Breakthrough.