Starting a business? 8 questions

Becoming a small business owner is scary and risky. Here are a few important things to ask yourself before you take the plunge.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 27, 2012 4:52PM

By Alison Green, U.S. News & World Report


If you fantasize about quitting your job and becoming your own boss, you're not alone. What could be better than setting your own hours, reporting to yourself and pursuing your own goals? But starting your own business isn't for everyone -- it's hard work and many people who try find that they're not cut out for it.


If you're wondering if going to work for yourself might be right for you, see if you can answer "yes" to the following eight questions:


1. Do you have savings? If you're like most entrepreneurs, it will take a while -- potentially months -- before money starts coming in. Meanwhile, you'll need savings to live on and capital to get you started.


2. Can you handle financial uncertainty? If you like to know exactly when your next check will arrive and how much it will be for, working for yourself may make you very nervous. Freelancers tend to have ebbs and flows in their income and sometimes go long periods without checks coming in. Are you someone who can handle this without too much anxiety?


3. Will you enjoy working alone? You probably won't have co-workers, at least in the beginning. If you're someone who enjoys the camaraderie and energy of working with others, will you miss that if you strike out on your own?


4. Are you comfortable marketing yourself? You might be fantastic at the service you're selling, but if you aren't willing to pitch yourself to potential clients, you might not make any money. Have you thought through what it will take to sell your service to potential clients?


Young Woman Florist Small Business Flower Shop Owner, Checkout Counter © YinYang, the Agency Collection, Getty Images5. Are you prepared to do accounting, IT and other functions, or to hire someone to do them for you? Running your own business isn't just about the service you're providing; you'll also need to take care of all the business elements that your employer previously handled for you, from billing clients to budgeting.


6. Do you have a strong network? Do you have at least a few potential clients lined up, as well as people who will refer you to potential clients? If not, you'll be starting from scratch trying to find buyers for your work, and that's hard to do in a competitive marketplace. Striking out on your own is much easier when you already have a network of people who value your work.


7. Are you comfortable asking for money? Whether citing prices to clients without flinching, holding firm when someone asks for a discount or following up on an overdue invoice, you'll need to assert yourself in the money arena.


8. Can you direct your own work? With no manager giving you guidance and feedback, you'll need to figure out for yourself where your energies should go, what isn't worth spending time on and how to course-correct when something isn't going well. It might not sound hard, but your livelihood will depend on you getting it right.


Before you launch out on your own, make sure you've thought through the points above. Some people thrive when they're working for themselves, while others realize that it's not for them. 


More from U.S. News & World Report:



Oct 29, 2012 2:38PM

Take your business start-up WORST case scenario, add 30 percent!

After you get your business up and running if you do not have at least $50,000.00 in operating capital, DO NOT attempt a start-up!


"Good decisions come from wisdom, wisdom comes from experience, experience comes from making BAD decisions." *

(* Author unknown)

Oct 29, 2012 4:50PM
We made the mistake of not borrowing enough money when we went in to business. The money only lasted three months, we thought we had enough for 1 year. After we went for the credit cards used them for a year, 18 years I am still paying for the loan for the business.
Oct 29, 2012 9:55AM

I find #7 to be the hardest even though when doing so for clients I am a pit bull. Part of it is the assumption all lawyers are rich. The reality is me, and my friends, went to law school later in life to help underdogs-human and animal. We still HAVE to pay bills, so the paid work, wuch as foreclosures, matrimonials, etc. enable us to survive. No Beemers, no dinners out, just making the mortgage and putting gas in our reliable but old model Camrys.


I received a couple of tips from exp people "How long would you work for your boss if he didn't pay you?". Or, "You don't walk out of Costco with a wagon full without paying for it, same thing here".

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