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If you’ve ever aspired to start your own business, you know how exciting the idea can be. It’s easy to get carried away thinking about all of the possibilities of a business you’re passionate about, and how you can develop that business to make those aspirations of running your own company a reality.
But smart entrepreneurs know that starting and running a successful business takes a lot more than just a great idea and enthusiasm. It’s important to temper that excitement with a dose (or several) of reality.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur wondering if the time is right to go all in on your idea and launch your business, here are a few things you’ll want to consider:
As is the case with most major life decisions, timing is everything. True, there is never a perfect time to do anything and many business owners would probably tell you that if they had waited for perfect timing, they would never have gotten their business off the ground. Still, it’s crucial to consider whether or not the timing is truly right for you and your particular situation to undertake a new business venture. You’ll be setting yourself up to fail by jumping in head first at the wrong time.
Be realistic about the time you have to devote to this business. Starting a business is no easy feat, and it requires commitment and diligence. Consider what your current day-to-day looks like and where and how your business aspirations would fit into this.
For example, if you are a single parent or handling the bulk of childcare responsibilities in your family, do you have a support system that can help out while you get your business off the ground? Or, if you plan to keep your day job while getting your business going, will you be able to devote adequate time in your off hours to do it justice? Are you dealing with any other major stressors in your life such as a move or a divorce? If you have a lot of other things competing for your time right now, it might be best to wait until those things are behind you.
The financial timing of a new business venture is also a key consideration when determining whether or not to go all in on your business idea. If you are financing your business with a loan, how much risk can you currently afford to take on? Or, if you’re financially secure in your current employment situation and you are supporting a family, you may want to give some serious thought to whether now is the right time to go all in on something that is inherently risky financially.
Even when things go smoothly, starting a new business is demanding and stressful, so it’s important to develop a plan that will help you increase your chances of success. This includes looking forward and being realistic about the amount of time you’ll be able to put into your business, not just now, but in the future. Ask yourself whether or not you will still have sufficient time to devote to your business six months, nine months, or a year or more down the road.
At a minimum, you will want to map out a plan for what the first year of running your business might look like and establish realistic time estimates and goals for launching it and getting it up and running. What will you need to get it off the ground? To keep it running and staff it? Who will handle your books, etc.?
If you’ll still be working a full-time job while launching your business (as many entrepreneurs do to start), then you’ll need to account for that so that you can get an accurate idea of how much time you can devote to your new business while still working for someone else.
Your planning process should also include researching and assessing the business landscape and competition in your industry. Is there currently a demand for the type of service or product you’re offering? Are these types of businesses succeeding overall? And what will you do or offer to set your business apart from the competition?
Finally, your planning should include a backup solution in the event that your business isn’t successful, or worse, if it fails entirely. Do you have leads for new employment to fall back on? Or are you leaving your current job on amicable terms so that going back would be an option if your small business venture doesn’t work out? Having thought about and planned for these things can offer significant peace of mind for new entrepreneurs.
Testing it out
The reality is that most of us can’t afford to jump in and abandon our day job on the hope that a new business venture will succeed. That’s why so many new business owners launch their business while still maintaining another occupation. Although this can be a struggle, the upside is that it gives you the opportunity to test the waters before going all in on your new business. Doing this sort of “test run” can help you determine whether or not the time is truly right to go all in.
A trial phase can also be an eye-opening exercise in determining whether or not business ownership is right for you. There’s more to it than simply possessing knowledge about a particular industry. Success also means having the right temperament and enjoying the back-office tasks that go along with running a business — some of them not so glamorous.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to build your business from the ground up to be a business owner. There are plenty of paths to ownership, and plenty of business opportunities available across a number of industries from owners looking to sell. Acquiring an existing business or franchising can reduce your upfront costs and offer you a proven success model to follow.
No matter how you choose to approach business ownership, deciding whether or not the timing is right ultimately comes down to your level of commitment and planning. If you are committed to seeing it through, and you have a solid plan for getting your business running, then now may be exactly the right time for you to jump in with both feet. If you have a solid business idea, the financial resources to back it up, and you feel like you are truly ready for business ownership, the sky’s the limit.