Office Politics 101: I’m thinking of starting a business
Q: I’ve often thought about starting my own business and my husband is quite supportive of the idea. I’m restless in my current position but I know I have some marketable skills. Do you have any recommendations for me?
A: I would say just about everyone has contemplated the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. The freedom, earning potential and personal satisfaction can be very attractive, especially if you are no longer challenged in your job.
Motivation is important; however, feelings of restlessness may not be assuaged should you leave and start your own business. Consider whether your mood originates beyond the circumstances of your current position.
The allure of being an entrepreneur can be intoxicating, partly because the media delights in reporting on the newest billionaire who has succeeded, apparently overnight, in achieving extraordinary success.
The reality of business, though, is that most new businesses fail; in fact, less than half of all new businesses start-ups last more than three years.
A cursory glance around your community, no doubt, will reveal a large number of retailers who have come and gone.
Competition is fierce and with the rise of e-commerce, consumers can now broaden their horizons internationally to find the best price. Margins are narrowing and even seasoned businesses are no longer able to depend on the loyalty of their current customer base.
Passion: I’d like to suggest this will be the most important character trait you’ll need to succeed. Your energy and your enthusiasm will go a long way in keeping you focused, but also will inspire your customers to believe in your business to meet their needs.
You say you have marketable skills — which is great, but how will you locate suitable customers? Do you plan to make sales calls? Will you need a web presence? Will you do advertising?
It is likely that you won’t make a profit immediately. Can you live comfortably — on only your husband’s salary — for, say, six months?
And, speaking of money, you’ll require some financing, especially if you are interested in retail or planning to buy an existing business, for example. Banks have special programs for new entrepreneurs and have staff dedicated to cash-flow lending.
Should you decide to proceed, you may wish to start slowly — while keeping your existing job — and build the business to see if you have what it takes. This will be less stressful and may complement the security you have at work.
Becoming an entrepreneur is a significant decision. Seek the counsel of experienced businesspeople and have realistic expectations. Your passion will take you through many challenges but you will also need to be willing to work hard to thrive.
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