To be a Successful Entrepreneur, You Can't be a "Little Bit Pregnant!"
Risk and commitment go hand-in-hand at the foundation of any entrepreneurial endeavor. Typically, you are blazing new trails with new products often in new markets; solving old problems a new way.
At the same time, you are probably leaving a stable position with a larger company and a steady paycheck, yet the same monthly bills to pay. It's a daunting prospect that causes many sleepless nights. And unfortunately, it, ultimately, involves a binary decision.
You do it, or you don't! There is no half-way. No ability to be a "little bit pregnant."
Should I quit my job?Because of the risk, many entrepreneurs drag out the decision, or worse, never fully make it, living with one foot in the corporate world, the other in the entrepreneurial one. And then neither gets done well, and they end up with the worst of both worlds.
They end up being distracted by their regular job and never being able to have enough time to commit to their entrepreneurial one. They, often, kid themselves with excuses like if they "could only get this critical feature done" or if they could just "sell one more customer" they could quit their corporate job and devote 100% of their time to their start-up.
And, of course, especially in the technology world, as I noted in a previous blog post, new products need to be treated like "fresh fish" - they have a "high spoilage factor." Somebody will inevitably usurp and improve on your idea while you're dallying, making the decision for you.
Should I quit my job: Advice on whether or not to start a business
Here are some key questions to ask yourself to help you see where you are and to help finally make the decision, one way or another...because you can't be "a little bit pregnant." Either you are with entrepreneurial child, or you are not!
Are you more in love with the idea of being known as an entrepreneur than actually being one?There is a certain cache′ to be referred to as a budding entrepreneur. It's certainly more exciting than being known as an Assistant Budget Manager or a District Sales Director.
Plus, it's good to dream about being on your own, entirely responsible for your success. And the potential for some real rewards.
But don't fool yourself. If you haven't put a plan together for how your business will roll out with a specific timetable (see my how to start a business guide for help), you're not serious, yet. I'd also include this criterion: if you haven't determined how your new business (and your savings) will be able to cover your personal "monthly nut," and for how long, you're not serious, yet.
Do you spend less than 20 hours a week on your start-up? Have you been doing it for longer than six months?What you have there is a hobby, not a business. It can stay that way and maybe like they used to say about the monkeys and typewriters eventually coming up with "the great books," maybe, eventually, you'll have a real business. Hopefully, before you're ready to retire...or die!
Have you and your significant other had "the talk?"To be a successful entrepreneur requires the understanding and full commitment from your life partner. You cannot do it alone. He/she needs to know what's coming. He/she needs to understand the business concept, your commitment to it, the risk and the reward.
The impact the venture will have on your lifestyle, both regarding the amount of time you might need to devote to the business and the impact on your family (if you have one), to how your budget might not permit multiple big-time vacations per year for a while.
And that a blow to the economy could hamper your success. Explain that you could have to shut the business down a year or two from now if you can't make it work, having lost your savings and having to start over, maybe with a job.
Harsh, but reality is necessary. If he/she shares in the rewards, they need to know the risks. You need your partner totally with you, to succeed.
Have you understood how your business life will change, at least in the early going?You certainly won't have an assistant to bring you coffee. No plush office, maybe just the old den. You'll have to make all your travel arrangements. Office supplies will only be in the closet if you put them there. You will be paying the bills, keeping the books, and hopefully, depositing the checks (or at least making sure PayPal or your bank gets your credit card transactions right).
If the printer breaks down, you'll have to figure out how to fix it. If something has to get to FedEx or UPS, guess who'll be taking it there? Pretty glamorous, eh? But it will be all yours.
"The rewards are phenomenal."Now, I've not exactly painted a rosy picture. But it is a real one. However, if you can climb over these, the rewards are phenomenal, from a personal and professional standpoint, to say nothing of the potential for financial gain. You will be totally in charge of your destiny.
You will have built something that didn't exist before. You will have risked time and dollars, but you will grow immeasurably. To do that you need to understand and consider the risk and then make the commitment.
"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!
Have you found yourself in this quandary? Include the story in your comments. It will help other entrepreneurs!
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Photo by Anna Maria Liljestrand licensed by creative commons, we added text to her image.