When people think about being an entrepreneur, they tend to think about figures such as Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Simon Cowell etc and the various dragons that they have on Dragons Den and for most of us, it all feels a bit unobtainable. However, there are entrepreneurs the length and breadth of the UK and just because they’re not in the public eye, it doesn’t mean that their success is any less impressive. The reality is, being an entrepreneur is extremely hard. It’s certainly not all about the jet-set lifestyle, hobnobbing with celebrities and enjoying the finer things in life. It’s about hard graft, worrying, taking risks and endless self-doubt. Not that I’m trying to put you off! On the flip side, it can be incredibly rewarding and feel like you’re finally doing something that you were destined to do. Of course, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur so if you’re thinking about starting a company, a business, or simply going it alone for the first time, there are some serious questions that you need to ask yourself…
Do you have what it takes to succeed?
You can’t really be a part-time entrepreneur. It’s a full-time job and your focus always needs to be there. It will test your commitment, nerve, patience and bank balance so you need to be prepared for that. It’s certainly not an exit strategy from your day job or the fast-track to being rich. You have to be in it for the long-game and be ready to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Are you really passionate enough?
Passion is an over-used word in business. To drive any business to success you need to be sure that it’s something you really want to do and that you care enough about it. If you go into it half-heartedly then you can expect half-hearted results. Of course, if you do have the ‘passion’ then you also need to be sure that your business idea is viable. Do your research. Put together a proper business plan and set some goals. Passion is one thing. Having a workable strategy is another.
Can you afford it?
Having some capital behind when starting a business is vital. Cash flow really is king in business. Without it, you can’t pay your suppliers or buy any equipment that you need. Before you embark on any business venture, calculate the investment that you will need to make and what kind of running costs you’re going to need. Of course, you also need to calculate the cost that all this will have on your family. If you are married and have children, can you really afford to take the risk? Most successful and married entrepreneurs tend to have supportive partners, so you also need to take a look at the strength of your relationship and whether it can withstand the pressures that being an entrepreneur will inevitably bring.
Are you prepared to learn?
We often think about entrepreneurs as being single-minded, focused only on success and even ruthless to some extent. Whilst some of these traits can be true, you also need to be prepared to learn from others. There’s always somebody out there who can inspire you, provide guidance and even obtain mentorship from. Think about the future of your business and who you aspire to be like. Are there other business owners that you can network with that share similar ambitions? Being an entrepreneur can often be a lonely road so it’s important to connect with like-minded people who you can bounce ideas off and keep you motivated.
If you can answer the above questions positively, then you’re definitely on the right track. We’ve barely scraped the surface of what being an entrepreneur is all about but you have to start somewhere and the most important thing at the start of any entrepreneurial journey is to be honest with yourself.