Starting a Business? Take a Reality Check!

My self-employed career began in 1996; after being laid-off I thought for sure I'd "Reality
return to the 9-5 world. My former employer intervened, offering a contract opportunity and my accountant offered this important advice- "you are going to start a business." I have to admit, it looked great to me. My wife had the benefits, I got paid more than I ever had before and I was putting in 40-50 hours/week. Life was great until 10 months later when the contract ended…

It's like scrounging to find your next meal- I had an empty pipeline. Heck, I didn't even realize I had a pipeline to fill. Such are the short-comings of the newly self-employed. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but this much I know: the novelty of self-employment masks many of the realities that one must face. At the same time I discovered my empty pipeline I also realized I do not like to sell. Man, why didn't someone tell me these things BEFORE I got started? If I had taken some time to sort things out I am confident my decision would have been the same but for awhile there I truly wondered what I had got myself into. Of course by that time I was also convinced I could not work for someone else. 

Certainly you can turn to the 'how to' guides. There are as many of them as there are grains of tree pollen in the green-tinged air blowing about my back yard. You can spend your days learning all there is to know about starting a business, but how much time will be left to pursue the opportunity? At the very least ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why do I want to pursue this opportunity?
  • Aside from the obvious, what is really driving me? Am I truly passionate about this opportunity?
  • Is there a genuine need and/or desire for what I have to offer?
  • What skills and talents do I possess? Will they serve this opportunity well?For those skills and talents that I lack, do I know where to find them?
  • Am I willing to make sacrifices to bring this dream to fruition?
  • Am I willing to grow and learn?
  • Am I willing to fail or to succeed?
  • Am I willing to accept I cannot do it all?

This little inventory is sort of like a reality check. The idea of being self-employed might seem like the answer to all of our needs. In fact, self-employment can be amazing and it can also be anything but. If you are contemplating going down that path, I encourage you to explore it; but before you begin take a good look at the only one who can make it happen- YOU!

4 responses on “Starting a Business? Take a Reality Check!

  1. Jim Van says:

    While all the questions are critical, I see #7 & 8 as being REALLY critical. Most entrepreneurs WILL fail, at least once, and more often 3 or 4 times. One must definitely be prepared with a 'plan B'. Realizing that one CAN'T do it all is critical, & tks for bringing it up. The good news is that technology advances, particularly software as a service, has made it possible for even the smallest of businesses to obtain services at affordable prices. Witness Quickbooks Online. Online legal services also bring down the cost of some things in that arena, but beware…it can be like using WebMD in place of an office visit in some situations…tread carefully.
    Passion is the fuel for your entrepreneurial rocket…and you've positioned it behind the most important question of all: why? IMHO, if one answers 'to get rich' they might be best served by the purchase of a lottery ticket:)
    A terrific story…I'm sure I'm not alone in being able to strongly identify with much of what you've said.

  2. Ed Drozda says:

    I appreciate your response Jim. The Why question is one of the easiest to avoid because unlike the True/False and multiple choice it requires a long-hand answer. But it is time well spent and if it helps someone pursue a dream it is worth it. On the other hand if that reality check has the opposite effect, it may well be a nightmare avoided.

  3. Jesse Baars says:

    This set of questions will definitely be of great assistance to those who would want to tap into self-employment. It is essential to start a business, which has a close relation to your interests and all the other things you're passionate about. Otherwise, you might have a hard time starting a business that doesn't appeal one bit to your persona. 🙂

  4. Ed Drozda says:

    Jesse I appreciate your comment; indeed I hope that folks seeking self-employment will consider these things. As for the passion, I could not agree with you more. Passion is the fuel that inspires creativity and motivation.

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