||The Brazen Careerist
Answer that entrepreneur
Feeling stuck? Uninspired? As though your New Year's
resolutions have no spark? Maybe it's time to start your own business.
It's likely you intuitively know if you're actually an entrepreneur
stuffed in a corporate cubicle.
The entrepreneurship bug isn't something that hits
in middle age. It's something that's inside you from day one --
a part of who you are. So don't be stifled by your age or lack of
experience. Just make sure you have the right personality for success
and the right attitude toward failure.
Get a good idea
Starting a business is very high-risk. Most entrepreneurs fail.
So minimize your risk by honestly evaluating if your concept is
valid and marketable. Remember, just because you like your idea
doesn't mean there's a market full of buyers for it, so do your
research. Tip: Your mom's opinion doesn't count because she's biased,
so find a small business mentor and ask her.
Assess your personality
You also need the right personality to run your own business. You
must like people and people must like you so you can get them to
do what you want. You need to be able to make fast, confident decisions,
and you need to be organized so that you can give clear direction
to others. If your product launch flops, you are the one who has
to tell everyone why the company is still on the road to success.
If you can't rally the troops, you need a business partner.
You also need boundless energy. When you own the company,
you set the pace and the standards. Remember the day at the office
last month when you were upset and tired from worrying about your
personal life the night before, so you surfed the Internet all day?
Relaxing, wasn't it? You can't do this when you own the company.
Most small business owners work 80-hour weeks and wish they needed
I have these traits. And I started a business. I raised
funds and hired employees, and, surprise, the company was successful
and I eventually cashed out. But I paid a high price. I worked almost
every waking minute. When cash flow was poor, I worried not only
about my own paycheck, but also about the paychecks of my employees.
When cash flow was good, deal flow was heavy and my workload doubled
even though I was already maxed out.
While I was negotiating the sale of my shares, my
hair started falling out. I didn't know this happened to women,
but apparently it does, usually from intense stress.
Fortunately, most small business owners are optimistic.
And I am, too. I bought some Nioxin to make my hair grow back. And
once I regained my former full mane, I started another business.
It failed. And I lost a lot of the money I made from
the first business. There were many reasons for the failure: Bad
timing, bad economy and maybe, in hindsight, bad idea. If you think
you have the personality to succeed as a small business owner, make
sure you have the right approach to failure as well.
Minimize risk to your checkbook and your career
I invested only the money I could afford to lose. I had no kids
and no mortgage. I lost my loot from my first company, but I didn't
lose my shirt. I kept enough to live on for a while longer. Think
of starting a business as gambling: When you go to Vegas, never
bet your plane fare home. Once my company closed, I enlisted a resume-writing
service to help me frame my business flop as a career hop to the
next level of management.
Fail quickly and move on
Most business leaders fail once or twice before hitting it big.
Think of failure as a necessary career step and move through it
quickly and assuredly. Recognize when things are going poorly, fail
fast, learn and get another idea.
To those of you with the right personality, I say
bring it on! You will be pleased that you turned tough economic
times into an opportunity for fulfillment. And even if you fail,
remember that statistics indicate you are most likely to succeed
when you are doing something you love.
-- Posted: Jan. 19, 2004