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By Presidential Proclamation, November is National Entrepreneurship Month. National Entrepreneurship Month celebrates entrepreneurs and seeks to encourage individuals to boldly strike out in pursuit of their dreams. Definitions of the word “entrepreneur” abound, but most zero in on elements of initiative and risk. An entrepreneur takes initiative to start a business, often putting assets into the endeavor with no guarantee of success and security.
What makes one individual thrive in a corporate environment, while another is drawn to self-employment? Are you one of those individuals who wonders "should I take the plunge and start my own business?" Although there's no litmus test that can provide a definite answer, there are some factors that point to whether you will be fulfilled and thrive as a business-owner.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to see if starting a small business is the right choice for you.
An entrepreneur needs to believe in his or her abilities—sometimes in the face of evidence to the contrary. Self-confident, calm and even-tempered individuals are less likely to collapse under the strain of multiple demands and financial uncertainty. On the other hand, anxious and self-conscious people will find themselves expending valuable energy to maintain focus as they weather the ups and downs a start-up invariably brings.
Entrepreneurs rarely have set hours and nearly always function in multiple roles: decision maker, research and development geek, marketing and sales genius, financial wizard, and human resource guru. Those who thrive on variety—and have the confidence to believe they can make this work—are more likely to be happy (and successful) as entrepreneurs. If you feel most comfortable in a structured environment with set schedule, established procedures and known responsibilities, you will be going against the grain as an entrepreneur.
One of the paradoxes of risk is that the greater the risk, the greater the potential for reward. This is true in picking stocks and picking career paths. But, individuals vary widely on how much and what types of risk they are willing to incur. For some, the risks and rewards of a successful career within an established corporate structure is the best match. This is particularly true for those who value a regular income and long-term financial security. Yet, others find this upward progression stifling, regardless of the level of reward. While there’s no doubt these entrepreneurial types exist within organizations (for example, the turn-around CEO or the visionary marketing strategist), this risk-takers often want to strike out on their own and make their own mark.
Being open to—and enthralled by—future possibilities and innovative approaches is a hallmark of the successful entrepreneur. Most successful entrepreneurs are not interested in simply improving a process incrementally—they want to reinvent it. If people often describe you (or your ideas) as creative and innovative, you may be happiest bringing those ideas to life, rather than working to realize someone else’s dreams and ideas. Simply put, entrepreneurs are driven to be “game-changers” whether in the realm of technology or culinary arts.
This is not to say an entrepreneur must be ruthless—all the time. But, there will be hard decisions to be made, in every aspect of the business. Being too agreeable can spell disaster when margins are tight and a firm negotiating stance can mean the difference between success and failure.
What if you answer “yes” to only some of these questions? Does that spell a life of misery if you start your own small business? Of course not. Successful entrepreneurs run the personality gamut! But, a “no” answer could mean that your best bet for success and happiness will involve finding a partner that complements your strengths and weakness (think Jobs and Wozniak or Penn and Teller). National Entrepreneur Month is the perfect time to start evaluating whether starting a business is in your future.
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