Starting a Small Business


Today, I was thinking back to the time that my wife started her small business.  It led me to a series of practical questions that I believe every solo entrepreneur needs to ask themselves, before taking the plunge.  Here they are, along with explanation of why to ask them.  Please keep in mind, there are many more question you need to consider, like market conditions, and who is your competition, among many many many others.  These are just the questions that came to mind as I was thinking.  

Do I Really Want To Work That Hard?

If you talk to small business owners, I bet ninety percent of them would tell you that they had no idea how much work it was going to be.  I remember the hours we spent before the doors were ever opened, and the hours my wife spent, at the business for the next few years before we moved South.  I also remember her coming home, stewing over how to deal with employee matters.  I remember doing payroll, while on vacation.  When you have a business, it is a twenty four hour per day responsibility.  Your hours may be more flexible, but in most cases you will work much more than before you started your business.  Is it worth it.  I would say yes, and I think my wife would as well.  It just isn’t easy.

Do I Need To Pay Myself Right Away?

I honestly think this question is one of the most important questions.  Although my wife, and I both worked hard getting things started, we had my income to live on while her business got on it’s feet.  We didn’t need to pay ourselves, and we didn’t have to incur much debt to get started.  We didn’t have many of the pressures that other business owners face, and it was still difficult getting started.  To have both the stress of the business, and not being able, or barely able to pay your bills at home is an incredible challenge for most people.  This is a direct lead in to the next two questions.

Do I Handle Stress Well?

Are you the kind of person who handles stress well?  Do you freak out when the stress levels get high?  If you don’t handle stress well, being a small business owner might not be the right step for you.  If you are average or below in your stress handling abilities, then you should pay very close attention to the next question?

Did You Multiply The Budget Needed to Get Started by 1.5 ?

Regardless if you are borrowing money or putting in your own, it is important that you have enough money to get started.  Very rarely have I ever estimated the cost of doing something and come in under budget, without adding some kind of cushion.  Have you every heard of Murphy’s Law?  “If something can go wrong it will!”  I think most business owners who end up on the bad side of Murphy’s law, are usually those who don’t have extra money for emergencies, and are operating on the margins.  

I really think these are good questions, but I think whether you fail or succeed, starting a business is a great experience.  In most cases, the worst case scenario is that you go out of business, and are completely broke for a few  years, but the experience you gain will be invaluable.  I think failure is a pre requisite to success in most cases. 

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