By Jonathan Long, Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship has recently become a sexy and trendy topic. The media glorifies the startup unicorns that hit big and TV shows like Shark Tank have introduced the entire world to entrepreneurs, leaving many people asking themselves, “Can I be one?”
While entrepreneurship can be rewarding on many levels, it requires a certain type of person to excel, whether he or she is venturing into this world straight out of school or transitioning out of a 9-to-5 career. There are so many questions to ask yourself before making the move — and a lot of these questions relate to specific circumstances. But here are six things you most definitely have to answer “yes” to.
1. Can you afford to take the risk, financially?
An entrepreneur fresh out of school with few to no financial obligations has less of a financial risk than someone with a family, a mortgage, multiple car loans and all the other standard monthly bills families have.
You need to understand the big financial risk associated with starting a business. Your idea may flop, you may be unable to pay yourself for a long period of time and there is always the possibility of losing it all.
If you already have a stack of financial obligations, start your business on the side. That scenario may not be ideal, but it’s still possible to find success this way. If you don’t have those obligations, and you fully believe in your idea, then go all-in.
2. Do you have a strong support system in place?
If you decide to start a business, the road is going to be filled with bumps and intersections, each with multiple options; you will have questions, lots of them. It’s important to surround yourself with a support system that will be there to help you solve problems, seek answers and be available when you just need to vent.
Having family, friends, mentors and industry connections to turn to will greatly increase the odds of your business being successful. The moral support alone is priceless. Keep the doubters away. They are toxic and need to be avoided if you desire success.
3. If you keep getting knocked down (and you will), are you going to keep getting back up for more?
You are going to get knocked down — most likely several times. There is also the possibility of making a wrong decision that causes you to fall flat on your face. If you are expecting to hit a home run the first time you go up to bat, you may as well not even play this game. You’re going to strike out. You’re going to become frustrated.
What differentiates the entrepreneurs that quit from the ones that go on to experience success is the latter group’s tenacity — their willingness to keep taking devastating punches and their willingness to keep getting back up for more.
My favorite example is James Dyson, founder and designer of a highly successful vacuum cleaner. Dyson’s first 5,126 prototypes were failures, but the 5,127th one went on to become the top-selling vacuum in the United States. He wouldn’t be worth $4.5 billion right now if he had stopped getting up after being knocked down more than 5,000 times.
4. Can you remain motivated, even without personal luxuries and conveniences?
Mark Cuban often talks about his early beginnings, when he was eating mustard and ketchup sandwiches and sleeping on the floor of a three-bedroom apartmenthe shared with five friends. Put yourself in that situation. Could you remain 100 percent motivated while sleeping on the floor and eating mac and cheese or Ramen noodles?
If not, entrepreneurship may not be for you. It’s often the personal sacrifices that make the biggest difference. Would you sell your car and take public transportation to your office if that meant being able to invest more money into your business? Would you sell your house and move into a small apartment if that meant being able to grow your business faster?
If you want it badly enough, you will do whatever it takes, while remaining laser focused and motivated.
5. Do you understand that your work/life balance will be extremely unbalanced in the beginning?
Most of your time will need to be allocated to your business in the beginning. You will see your friends and family less and miss out on a lot of the little things you used to do — like getting together for beers after work on a Friday and taking weekend trips. Instead, you’ll have long nights at the office and work-filled weekends.
You have to be willing to put in the time and effort in the beginning. When you start a business, everything is on your shoulders. It’s an enormous amount of pressure that some can’t handle. Over time you will be able to create a healthier work/life balance, but understand that it will be very unbalanced in the early years. It’s just recently that I’ve started to get away from my marketing agency 100 percent on the weekends, to devote that time to myself, my family and friends.
6. Can you envision your success?
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt
That’s one of my favorite quotes about envisioning success. If you can’t envision success, then you aren’t ready. You need to see it, and see it clearly. You need to wake up envisioning your success. You need to have that picture engraved in your head. You need to dream about it when you go to sleep.
So, have you answered “yes” yet?
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