Do You Really Want to Own a Business?


Hope springs eternal in the human breast, said English poet and essayist Alexander Pope several centuries ago. He wasn’t describing people expanding or starting a business, but he may as well have been. Everyone who goes into business for themselves hopes to meet or surpass a set of personal goals. While your particular configuration is sure to be unique, perhaps you will agree with some of the ones I have compiled over the years from talking to hundreds of budding entrepreneurs

Self-Evaluation Exercises

Here’s a question to ponder: Are you the right person for your business? Because running a business is a very demanding endeavor that can take most of your time and energy, your business probably will suffer if you’re unhappy. Your business can become an albatross around your neck if you don’t have the skills and temperament to run it. Simply put, I’ve learned that no business, whether or not it has sound financial backing, is likely to succeed unless you, as the prospective owner,

Your Strong and Weak Points

Take a few minutes to list your personal and business strengths and weaknesses. Include everything you can think of, even if it doesn’t appear to be related to your business. For instance, your strong points may include the mastery of a hobby, your positive personality traits, and your sexual charisma, as well as your specifi c business skills. Take your time and be generous. To provide you with a little help, I include a sample list for Antoinette Gorzak, a personal friend who has what she hopes is a good business idea: a slightly different approach to selling women’s clothing.

General and Specifi c Skills Your Business Needs

Businesses need two kinds of skills to survive and prosper: Skills for business in general and skills specifi c to the particular business. For example, every business needs someone to keep good fi nancial records. On the other hand, the tender touch and manual dexterity needed by glassblowers are not skills needed by the average paving contractor.

How to Use the SelfEvaluation Lists

After you’ve completed the four selfevaluation lists, spend some time reading them over. Take a moment to compare the skills needed in your business to the list of skills you have. Do you have what it takes? Show them to your family and, if you’re brave, to your friends or anyone who knows you well and can be objective.

Of course, before showing the lists to anyone, you may choose to delete any private information that isn’t critical to your business. If you show your lists to someone who knows the tough realities of running a successful small business, so much the better. You may want to find a former teacher, a fellow employee, or someone else whose judgment you respect.

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