Before you make a big change and quit your nine-to-five, conduct a careful self-assessment. Do you feel you have these qualities?
- Can work without a playbook. When you run your own business, you call the shots. This can be both a blessing and a curse. To thrive in this environment, you’ll need to feel comfortable navigating some uncharted (and often rocky) waters without guidance. If these aren’t your strengths right now, know that you’ll need to learn them pretty fast.
- Can work long hours (with no end in sight). Never quit your day job with the assumption that, as a business owner, you’ll work fewer hours. In very few cases does that “four-hour work week” actually exist. Rather, the first few years as a business owner can be excruciatingly tough. The bottom line? When running a business, you’ve got to love and believe in what you do.
- Can sacrifice a steady lifestyle. Accounting for your current stage in life, assess the importance of the following: a steady paycheck, two weeks paid vacation and employer-sponsored health insurance, to name a few. Most entrepreneurs will need to forgo such perks for the first few years of running their businesses. You need to account and plan for uncertainty and lean times — both financially and mentally.
- Don’t think “fail” is a dirty word. I constantly remind myself of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s maxim: “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get stressed or downright panicked at times, but don’t allow fear to paralyze you or prevent your business from accelerating. Know that even the most successful entrepreneurs fail more than they succeed. On the bright side, if you learn from each failure, it’s not really a failure, now is it?
- Can feel satisfied without external recognition. When you own a business, there’s no boss to pat you on the back or give you a raise, and no teacher to give you an A. This means you’ll need to rely on yourself to stay appreciated, motivated and inspired.
- Can live without perfection. Too often, perfection can be the enemy. As an entrepreneur, your livelihood is tied to launching a product, service, website, blog, application, etc. You can’t wait for “perfect.” As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be able to let go of that unattainable ideal. Shake off mistakes, correct minor glitches and move on. Go with what you have and build on what you learn.
- Can get past temporary disappointment. When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s hard not to take rejection personally. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to receive your fair share: rejection from investors or an incubator program, a lost sale, a lackluster blog review, etc. To dwell on the rejection or feel bitter is a waste of time. Take each rejection as an opportunity to learn and try harder next time.
- Can be open-minded. Being committed to an idea is important, but the ability to pivot is equally essential. For instance, you may tackle an initial project only to encounter a change in customer behavior or market conditions. Therefore, that original idea may need to be tweaked. Recognize that the customer and market aren’t wrong — period. You’ll need to listen to customers, watch the market, learn from each failure and make adjustments on a regular basis.
by Nellie Akalp