How To Tell If You're Really Ready To Start Your Own Business
During the Q&A part of a recent presentation I delivered at the Hult School of Business, someone asked, “How do I know if I’m really ready to take the leap to start my own business?” Actually, when you’re about to put just about everything about you on the line, including your ego, security, career, and financial success, in a situation where the odds are stacked against you, it’s a very relevant question to ask yourself. Perhaps it’s even the most relevant question to ask yourself.
As an entrepreneur myself for the past 20+ years, I’ve come to know many other entrepreneurs. If you asked any of them this question, I believe even the most successful ones will tell you that you’re never really going to be ready to be an entrepreneur for the first time. Stepping out on the edge to start your own business is just such a bold, personal, consuming move for anyone to make. It’s a venture that’s not possible to narrow down to a simple checklist of key success factors.
In addition, what allows some to succeed as entrepreneurs over most others are not only related to your business idea, strategy, or plan. In most cases, it’s the intangible qualities about you, like your nimbleness and flexibility to make adjustments, resourcefulness to solve problems, ability to come up with solutions, and just sheer will and persistence not to fail. Experienced VC/PE investors and savvy business people will tell you that bright ideas are easy to come by. It’s your ability to execute your idea that separates who succeeds from who doesn’t.
Having said all this, based on the many people I’ve seen start their own business, I’ll highlight three good questions to ask yourself that indicate whether you’re more ready than not to start and build a successful business. These are:
1) 你是否有很多“Build Something Out Of Nothing”的经验和成果？——比如，即便是在公司上班，你也参与过重点项目，为此你必须要组建团队，开发产品、服务，制定流程、系统，打造品牌，开辟市场。或者在大学的时候，你创立、领导了一个从未有过的学生俱乐部或者组织，广受欢迎。又或者你利用业余时间在天猫开了一家相当成功的网店。这些事情都表明你非常熟悉“从零开始创造出一些东西”，而这恰恰是你自己创业时一直要做的事情。
1) What’s your level of experience and achievement “building something out of nothing?” – For instance, even though you work in a company, you’ve worked on a key project before where you had to build a team, product or service, process or system, or brand or market. Or as a university student, you founded and led a popular student club or organization that didn’t existed before. Or you’ve built a fairly successful online store of some kind on Tmall in your spare time. All of these show that you’re familiar with what it takes to build something from nothing, which is essentially what you’re constantly doing when you run your own company.
2) What’s your level of experience and achievement working independently? –As an entrepreneur, you pretty much go it alone, even if you have a partner(s). In your own company, there’s nobody else leading the way or telling you what you need to do. You’re the one who has to drive things and make them happen. You’re the one making the key decisions and figuring out what the top priorities should be. So you better be someone who is bold, proactive, and comfortable relying on your own capabilities and drive to get things done.
3) What’s your level of experience and achievement facing big challenges and setbacks? – Trust me, as an entrepreneur, many things that you try aren’t going to turn out nearly as well as you think they will. What you quickly learn is that things are twice as difficult and take twice as long as you imagined. So it really helps if you’ve faced and overcome pressure situations, big obstacles, and even failure before, because these are what you’ll be experiencing once you start your own company.
If your answers these questions are “not much” or “very little”, then take a step back to consider if you’re someone who is fundamentally prepared to start and build your own business. Actually, I’ll modify that. Starting your own business is easy. Anyone can do it. The real question is if you’re ready to start and build a successful business.