Are you ready to be an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs launching new businesses must recognize and understand their own strong points and limitations to compete in a crowded market. Learning to play to strengths and to offset weaknesses helps cultivate the positive attitude and leadership skills intrinsic to success.
The Right Stuff
If you’re not sure you have the right qualifications to become an entrepreneur, conduct a systematic self-assessment. Start by listing characteristics you believe a business owner should possess. While these can vary, experts agree the following are essential:
- Creativity. People who start businesses must be able to generate new ideas, change direction as needed, and employ a solution-oriented approach.
- Willingness to take risks. Entrepreneurship probably isn’t the best fit if you rely on predictable work schedules and financial stability.
- Initiative. An entrepreneur must be a self-starter, tackling tasks without prompting or close monitoring.
- Communication skills. These include the capacity to build rapport with others; knack for negotiation; and the ability to clearly frame concepts, plans, and situations in writing.
- Good judgment. This includes the ability to see all sides of an issue, to approach a challenge systematically and objectively, and to make solid decisions.
- Physical and emotional stamina. Starting a company often means long workdays and busy weekends. If you tire easily, become mentally drained under pressure, or have trouble staying positive, make sure you have another person to help carry the load.
- Ability to work independently. An entrepreneur must be able to effectively plan and organize without supervision.
- Support system. Because the early months of a new company are fraught with uncertainty, make sure you have a support network – such as accountants, attorneys, and others in your field – to consult with as needed. If this is not possible, consider using a business mentor. Organizations like SCORE, consisting of retired business owners and professionals, offer free guidance to entrepreneurs in a variety of areas.
Take a hard look at these criteria, as well as others you deem important – and give yourself an honest rating. If you seem deficient in one or more of these areas, think about hiring an employee or partner possessing the skills you lack. Better yet, develop these traits by working with a business coach or attending classes targeting entrepreneurs.
Finally, if the thought of formulating your own assessment tool makes you cringe, try one of the many available online. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a comprehensive questionnaire regarding business readiness, as do various universities and professional groups.
Patti Murray is a business banker for F&M Trust.
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