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7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

Inc. logo Inc. 5/23/2017 Jordan Scheltgen
Portrait Of Couple Running Coffee Shop Behind Counter © Getty Images Portrait Of Couple Running Coffee Shop Behind Counter

Entrepreneurship is fun to talk about, it's a lot harder to be about. The notion that you will be able to be your boss, create the hours and life you want and ultimately see riches beyond your wildest beliefs draw people to start their own businesses. However, the reality is that starting your own business is one of the hardest things you can do and it will require you to develop your leadership skills. The fact that 8 out of 10 business fail within the first year shows two things, (i) creating a company is hard and (ii) entrepreneurship isn't built for everyone.

So before you dive head first into entrepreneurship, ask yourself these questions.

1. Are you willing to go without pay?

Or very little?

One of the popular misconceptions about entrepreneurship is that it comes with a nice paycheck. And though that may be true one day, it won't be for a while. Initially, your business probably won't make any money, and when it starts to, you'll want to reinvest profits into growth. If you are working alone on a business and you take all of the capital the company receives monthly, you have just created a nice job for yourself. Being an entrepreneur means reinvesting and focusing on growth.

2. Are you okay with investing your own money to get the business started?

Office space, employees, hosting fees, etc., they all cost money. Before you start anything, make sure you're willing to put in some of your own capital into the business. If you're going the investment route, many investors will want to know how much you've personally put into the company as a sign of commitment to your vision. If you're not willing to invest in the company why should a VC?

3. Are you ready to be the accountant, lawyer, head of HR, customer service, etc.?

Your passion is what brought you to start a business. Your ability to adapt and take on new roles will be what keeps it alive. Starting a business means, providing your service/product to customers. This will be what you're passionate about and probably best at. It also means you're going to have to wear several hats and some that don't fit so comfortably. You will become the accountant, lawyer, head of HR and customer service, alongside providing your service/product to customers.

4. Can you fire someone?

Firing people sucks. There's no other way to put it. However, it's a part of running a business and a hurdle you must get over as your business grows. You need to be willing to have hard conversations with employees, about pay, equity agreements and ultimately if you have to let them go.

5. Do you have patience?

Growing a company takes a long time and your patience will be tested. For myself personally, it took 18 months before I took a single check from my advertising agency. There is no get rich quick plan with entrepreneurship. It takes serious conviction and dedication to a long-term plan for your business and life.

"Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success." - Biz Stone

6. Are you self-motivated?

Being accountable to other people at your previous job could have pressured you to hit milestones, get to work early and stay late, and give your best effort. Now you will have to be accountable to yourself. If you're not self-motivated, then entrepreneurship will be short-lived for you. Building the business has to be your fuel, getting you up early and keeping you there late building the business.

7. Are you willing to let your social life take a hit?

If you like happy hours and movie nights, then entrepreneurship might not be for you. One of the truths about building a business is that it takes serious time. You will be confronted with decisions daily on things like, "Should I go meet my friends at the bar or do another few hours of prospecting?" Your friends may not understand and pressure you to come out, you will have to learn to say no and double down on your business.

If all signs are a go for becoming an entrepreneur, I'll let you in on two truths: (i) you're signing up for one heck of a ride and (ii) it's all worth it.

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