"La puntualidad es lo más parecido que hay a la esclavitud" - Juan Gossaín

Do you really want to be your own boss?

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS?

Mar2004 - USA Today Magazine, por John A.Challenger


While the allure of being your own boss may be too good to pass up, it is important for would-be entrepreneurs to realize that self-employment is not for everyone. The biggest challenge for seasoned workers who want to start their own business is determining whether they are cut out for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs exude a willingness to take risks and typically have high levels of energy and drive. They tend to be creative thinkers who have proven leadership ability and a strong foundation of business experience. Whether you want to start a new business venture, buy a small business or franchise, or begin consulting in your area of expertise, the following criteria are necessary for success:

Commitment.

Starting a business takes a substantial investment of time and personal effort. It is a time-and-a-half job, not apart-time one. Your business must come first. You will have less time for family and personal activities--and less money, too. Before you decide to go out on your own, make sure you are willing to make these sacrifices and stick with your business goals no matter what.

A solid track record.

A common mistake among would-be entrepreneurs is venturing into anew field in which they have no previous experience. Just as we counsel people not to change careers when they seek new employment, we counsel individuals who want to start businesses to stick with what they know. Purchasing a franchise about which you know nothing only increases the chances of failure, because you would be competing with others who have more experience.

There are exceptions. Some people might have adapted to a different field successfully, but the percentage is small compared to those who could not adapt. Within the framework of your own knowledge and expertise, ask yourself, "Where is a need in the marketplace that I can serve?"

Sales experience.

As an entrepreneur, you should expect to spend 75% or more of your time on sales as the business is getting off the ground. If you do not feel comfortable selling, your business probably is doomed before it even begins. No business can succeed without sales. A strong sales commitment is necessary, especially in the first 12 to 24 months.

This sales effort is not something you can delegate. You are the owner, the one with the vision and the stake in the business. If you leave selling to someone else, the vision will not be as compelling and your stake will be at risk. If you want to be a manager, get a job. If you are willing to sell, then and only then can you make your own business successful.

Stamina.

Starting a new business takes stamina--the energy to withstand the physical rigors of starting up and operating it. Because drive is so important, entrepreneurship has long been considered a venture for the young. Yet, more and more aging baby boomers are becoming entrepreneurs, as evidenced by the latest government data. Today's experienced workers are healthier and feel and look younger than their counterparts of even 20 years ago. Still, you need to assess whether you are up to the challenge of long hours and extended periods of uncertainty.

Testing your entrepreneurial readiness.

To successfully launch a new business venture, you need to be able to answer "yes" to each of the following questions: Is there a second income you can count on? Can you put your business before everything else, including family? Do you have (or can you raise) sufficient start-up money and working capital? Are you experienced in this area? Do you possess the stamina to work long hours and endure long periods of uncertainty?

If you answered "no" to any of the above questions, then perhaps entrepreneurship is not the best career path to pursue. An unfortunate part of our business as job search counselors to discharged managers and executives is that we sometimes have to talk these individuals out of their dream of being their own boss. For example, one executive had spent the majority of his business career as a mid-level manager with a large corporation. When that company was merged with another major firm, his position was terminated.

When he arrived for outplacement counseling, he expressed a desire to start his own business rather than attempt to get back on another payroll. He felt that his extensive business background and MBA from a leading university would qualify him well for entrepreneurship. He wanted to start up a manufacturing supply business. However, it became apparent in conversations with him that he had no expertise in that area and no idea of how much money it would take to start the business and keep it operating until it became profitable. Moreover, he had no sales skills, having been a manager in all of his former positions.

It was recommended that this individual not pursue starting a company. It is unfortunate to dash someone's hopes and aspirations, but he was simply not qualified for entrepreneurship.

John A. Challenger