Starting your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Being a business owner can offer numerous advantages, such as being your own boss, setting your own schedule, and making a living doing something you enjoy. But becoming a successful entrepreneur requires thorough planning, creativity, and hard work.
Consider whether you have the following characteristics and skills commonly associated with successful entrepreneurs:
• Comfortable with taking risks: Being your own boss also means you’re the one making tough decisions. Entrepreneurship involves uncertainty. Do you avoid uncertainty in life at all costs? If yes, then entrepreneurship may not be the best fit for you. Do you enjoy the thrill of taking calculated risks? Then read on.
• Independent: Entrepreneurs have to make a lot of decisions on their own. If you find you can trust your instincts—and you’re not afraid of rejection every now and then—you could be on your way to being an entrepreneur.
• Persuasive: You may have the greatest idea in the world, but if you cannot persuade customers, employees, and potential lenders or partners, you may find entrepreneurship to be challenging. If you enjoy public speaking, engage new people with ease, and find you make compelling arguments grounded in facts, it’s likely you’re poised to make your idea succeed.
• Able to negotiate: As a small business owner, you will need to negotiate everything from leases to contract terms to rates. Polished negotiation skills will help you save money and keep your business running smoothly.
• Creative: Are you able to think of new ideas? Can you imagine new ways to solve problems? Entrepreneurs must be able to think creatively. If you have insights on how to take advantage of new opportunities, entrepreneurship may be a good fit.
• Supported by others: Before you start a business, it’s important to have a strong support system in place. You’ll be forced to make many important decisions, especially in the first months of opening your business. If you do not have a support network of people to help you, consider finding a business mentor. A business mentor is someone who is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance.
Still think you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and start a new business? Great! Now ask yourself these 20 questions to help ensure you’ve thought about the right financial and business details.
1. Why am I starting a business?
2. What kind of business do I want?
3. Who is my ideal customer?
4. What products or services will my business provide?
5. Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
6. What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
7. Where will my business be located?
8. How many employees will I need?
9. What types of suppliers do I need?
10. How much money do I need to get started?
11. Will I need to get a loan?
12. How soon will it take before my products or services are available?
13. How long do I have until I start making a profit?
14. Who is my competition?
15. How will I price my product compared to my competition?
16. How will I set up the legal structure of my business?
17. What taxes do I need to pay?
18. What kind of insurance do I need?
19. How will I manage my business?
20. How will I advertise my business?
(Hmmm, how about Tidewater Women!)
For more information about starting a business and/or finding a business mentor, call the Women’s Business Center Old Dominion University Business Gateway in Norfolk 757-683-3729 Option #8 or visit www.odu.edu/bg/wbc.