Given that this is my first column of the year, I thought we would spend a few moments discussing those well-intentioned, but rarely kept, promises we refer to as New Year’s Resolutions.
Along with “This year, I am going to lose weight!” and “This year, I am going to quit smoking!” and the perennial favorite, “This year, I am going to stop watching reality TV!” One of the more popular resolutions this time of year is “This year, I am going to start my own business!”
I have dubbed it “The American Dream Resolution,” and like the majority of New Year’s resolutions, it is a declaration of intent that is frequently made but rarely kept (at least in an effective manner).
Allow yourself ten points for each affirmative response and a big ZERO for each negative response.
1. Are you capable of delegating without micromanaging?
Running a business requires the execution of dozens of concurrent tasks, and it is irrational to attempt to manage them all on your own. You must surround yourself with partners and employees in whom you have complete confidence that they will perform these tasks as well as you would. If you are unable to accept responsibility without being concerned about the outcome, subtract a zero from your score.
2. Are you a self-starter and self-disciplined individual?
If you lack the self-motivation or discipline necessary to be an entrepreneur, chances are you lack the wherewithal to bounce out of bed each day without your spouse drenching you with cold water. Business requires you to act solely on your own volition. To motivate yourself to pick up the phone and make sales calls, you must first motivate yourself. You must motivate yourself to get into your car and make customer visits. Each day, you must complete a hundred tasks that will remain unfinished unless you force yourself to complete them.
3. Are you fearful of a little extra effort? Is not it simple to start a business?
WRONG! If you believe that working for another person is difficult, consider starting your own business. You will be required to contribute every drop of blood, sweat, and tears you possess. You will be required to work long hours and be available 24 hours a day, at least initially. If the mere thought of hard work exhausts you, here is your zero.
4. Is the foundation of your personal relationships strong enough to withstand the stresses of starting a business?
“What does your spouse think?” is the first question I ask anyone who tells me they want to start a business. When starting a business, you may find yourself spending more time away from your family than you prefer. Additionally, the business may place a financial strain on you. You will face sufficient obstacles without worrying if you have the support of your family and those closest to you.
5. Are you able to sell?
This is a triple zero question, as every business requires customers, and initially, you will be responsible for acquiring those customers. This entails selling both yourself and your products. Even though customers are every business’s lifeblood, you would be surprised at how many entrepreneurs despise this aspect of business. Do you cringe at the prospect of cold calling, or entering a business and requesting to speak with the owner? Are you confident in your ability to pick up the phone, call a prospect, and request an appointment without breaking out in a cold sweat? If you are uncomfortable with selling, you will have a difficult time succeeding in business.
6. Are you a quitter?
“If it were easy, everyone would do it,” is one of my favorite business proverbs. Beginning a business is difficult, and the odds of failure are stacked against you during the initial years. If you want to ride herd independently, you must be prepared to fall off your horse several times without giving up. If you are unable to dust off your pants and re-enter, here is your zero.
7. Are you able to deal with rejection?
If you are easily offended, keep your day job; business is not for you. Many days in business, rejection lurks around every corner, and you must learn to deal with it without succumbing to it. You will face rejection from a variety of sources, including customers, business partners, bankers, and investors.
8. Are you a good communicator?
As a business owner, you will interact with a variety of people on a daily basis, from your own employees to vendors, customers, and investors. You must be able to manage people effectively without offending them; you must be able to accept good advice from mentors and politely disregard bad advice; you must be able to overlook mistakes or quietly rectify them; and, most importantly, you must be able to tolerate incompetence without losing your cool (but that is fodder for another column).
9. Are you financially secure?
The most common reason for business failure is a lack of funds. Prior to starting your business, you should have sufficient capital to see you through the first year or until the venture becomes self-sustaining. A sound financial plan will end with a few commas and a significant number of zeroes.
10. Are you familiar with the type of business you intend to start?
We have discussed this previously. If you are unable to locate the engine in your vehicle, you have no business purchasing a Lube-N-Go franchise. The most successful entrepreneurs have prior experience in the industry in which they have established their business.
ADDITIONAL QUESTION. Have you ever attempted to start a business? Prior business ownership is not required, but it certainly would not hurt. Numerous successful entrepreneurs conceal the skeletons of previous businesses in their closets. Business is similar to marriage in that you learn a lot the first time around that may prove useful the second time around. You can see why I refrained from entering marriage counseling…
Allow yourself 10 points for each “Yes” response and 0 points for each “No.” If your “Yes” responses outweigh your “No” responses, you may have what it takes to follow through on your New Year’s resolution to start your own business.
If your responses are overwhelmingly negative, you may be better off working for someone else.
Which brings us to another New Year’s Resolution: “This year, I am going to get along with my boss…”
I wish you success.