I’ve talked to so many budding entrepreneurs who are gung-ho about starting their business. However, when I ask them a series of 5 basic questions, not only do they begin to rethink their business ideas, they begin to re-purpose them as well. Are you ready for entrepreneurship? Let’s see how you fare answering the following questions:
Question #1: Why do you want to become an entrepreneur?
When I ask this question, many quickly state, “Because I am ready to leave my job.”
Why? Entrepreneurship is not your exit strategy from corporate America; it is your calling. When you choose entrepreneurship, it’s because there is a particular dream, goal or purpose you want to accomplish. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. You must be driven by your process and your message. You also have to be ready to inspire others as to why you and your organization are the solution to their problem. This is a message that you must believe in the very fiber of your soul because people know when you aren’t authentic. If you don’t believe in your product or service, why should anyone else? If you just want to sell things to people, get a sales job. Entrepreneurship is so much more and it may not be for you.
Question #2: What is your “why?”
I tell all potential entrepreneurs that they must know their “why.” Your “why” is the reason that you started the business. For instance, I started The Reinvent You Movement because I wanted to help career professionals with their transition from employee to entrepreneur. When I started my business, I had to figure everything out on my own. It was a very hard and arduous journey. I wanted to give back and help others navigate the beginning stages of entrepreneurship through education and resources to help them avoid the challenges I faced.
What people don’t realize is that your “why” is the very thing that will help you to persevere and endure the challenges of business ownership. At the very moment you are ready to give up and walk away, you have to remember “why” you started the business in the first place. At that crossroad, your adrenaline will kick in and your commitment to stay the course will override any other feelings of frustration or defeat. Your “why” is the personal mission you have within your heart to pursue this endeavor to the very end.
Question #3: Are you ready to fail and fail big?
Entrepreneurship is where the rubber meets the road. You don’t realize how much you don’t know until you start a business. You can read all the books on the subject, take classes and interview successful entrepreneurs, but until you are working your business — you are clueless. There is nothing like real world experience. It is inevitable that you will mismanage finances, make costly marketing mistakes, revamp your operating procedures on a number of occasions to find the right fit, and the list goes on. I don’t see these items as failure but more as a learning curve. No matter your lot in life, you will make major mistakes and fail in a royal way. It is just a natural progression of the learning process. But how you deal with failure is the question — resilience is the answer. In an effort to maintain your sanity and stay productive, you must be able to learn from mistakes and not internalize them; while simultaneously trying again. At times it will seem like you are constantly correcting your mistake but eventually you will gain a better understanding of your business.
Question #4: Is your business purpose driven or money driven?
This question goes back to your why. People make money all day long. However, if your business isn’t for the greater good then it’s just a job and not a career endeavor. I am a very social conscious individual and entrepreneur so I don’t believe in doing things just for a paycheck. In my mind, that’s a job. I believe that our actions should help and uplift the community around us. If it doesn’t, why are we here? Business owners are leaders. We should be accountable, corporate citizens who focus on ways to build a better environment and community for our city, state, region, nation, and the world. We are our brother’s keepers. If we don’t help each other, who will? In recent years, our society has become quite narcissistic.
However, entrepreneurship creates a win-win platform which allows you to do what you love, while solving problems for others. In its very nature, entrepreneurship is philanthropic at its core. So in building your business, shouldn’t that desire to help others extend to a more purpose driven message? As an entrepreneur, you are in charge. Isn’t this the perfect time to become the change you seek?
Question #5: Are you ready to make the necessary sacrifices to be successful?
Most people don’t realize in the first few years of your business that your earnings go right back into your business. I am a firm believer that you must pay yourself along with your staff. However, as business needs arise, you will quickly find yourself putting your money back into the business. Your business is your child…and often, the business needs will supersede your own. Not only will your money be stretched, but so will your time and energy. You will often find yourself working almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on and in your business. Outings with friends, vacations, and social functions will be extremely limited. I am a firm believer of work life balance but at times, that becomes more of a fantasy than a reality. The idea of being your own boss is great. But in the beginning, you are the boss, the marketer, the accountant, the administrative staff, customer service, mail-room clerk, janitor, sales force, operations, etc. So the dreams of shorter work weeks, elaborate vacations, etc. is just that, a dream. In the beginning, you will make a great sacrifice in order to gain the success you desire. But trust me, it’s worth it!
You will never work as hard in any profession as you do as an entrepreneur. But at the same time, there is nothing more gratifying than starting your own business and succeeding. It would be a shame to work that hard just for the money, the success, and the bragging rights. If you are going to work hard to succeed, make sure you are doing so with a purpose for the greater good in mind. You have more power as an entrepreneur to affect the culture, the economy, and your community. Don’t take the power of entrepreneurship lightly; choose to become a purpose driven entrepreneur. You will be amazed at the difference you will make.