Column: Should I become an entreprenuer?


One of the side effects of hitting the 10 year mark as an entrepreneur is that I get asked the following question a lot:

“I am thinking about starting my own business, can you give me some advice?”

My initial response is always the same – “Are you sure?”

The Statistics Are True

Most (50% +) small businesses fail in the first 5 years.

So, at best, you’ve got a flip of the coin chance to make it work.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that “making it work” often involves a business owner working tons of hours, earning very little, and accumulating a bunch of debt.

Be Clear About Your “Why?”

Before you pick up another copy of Entrepreneur magazine, I’d like to suggest that you carefully consider the following question.

“If I would double your salary and change out your boss for someone you respected, would you still want to start your own business?”

If the answer is anything less than “absolutely”, then I have a simple piece of advice that will save you tons of frustration and money.

Walk away.

You may not love your current job, but unless you are 100% committed, I promise the glamour of owning your own business will wear off the minute you run through your working capital – if not sooner.

The truth is that intellectually speaking, owning your own business isn’t all that difficult. We all know a “C” student who is a multimillionaire entrepreneur.

But, you’ve got to be passionate about why you’re going to start your own business.

It doesn’t even matter what you’re passionate about. You might be an avid cyclist and committed to helping your community become healthier. Or maybe, you’re like me, and you just want to have freedom and be the boss.

After working with hundreds of successful and not so successful business owners, I have developed a list of the 3 qualities I have seen in every successful entrepreneur.

  • Short Memory – You will screw up a ton – especially in the beginning. When you do, you’ve got to learn and move on.

  • Sales – You don’t need to be Zig Ziglar, but you’ve got to be able to sell your product/service. It’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) to hire and lead an individual when you can’t sell your own idea.

  • Support System – When I started my business, my wife Nicole, had more confidence in my abilities than I did. And, when I stumbled in the beginning (which I did a lot) she was the first to say “Don’t worry – you’ll figure it out.” We all need someone to lean on when times get tough.