Ask yourself these important questions to determine if starting a business is right for you.
Are you thinking about leaving your job to start your own business, so you can spend more time with your kids? Are you ready to get back to work after focusing only on the family for a while? Momtrepreneurship may be for you! But as entrepreneurship continues to rise and a majority of startups continue to fail (a bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years), it’s crucial to jump into entrepreneurship for the right reasons and with the right mindset to help ensure success and longevity. It is also important to make a clear and unbiased assessment of your motivations and skills to see if you have what it takes to launch a successful business. Ask yourself three important questions to determine if starting a business is right for you:
1. What is my motivation to start my business?
Determine why you want to have your own business. If it’s simply to make more money and have more freedom, you may be sadly disappointed. Most business startups require the founder to invest significant time and money for more than a year before they begin to receive a return on their investment. Can you afford that?
Many successful business owners started their businesses because they had a problem that they wanted to solve or a convenience that they wanted to create to help customers. If this is true for you, it may be easier for you to grow your business successfully.
A woman I know discovered that essential oils were helpful in treating skin conditions and inflammation causing pain in her massage therapy patients. She was passionate about this and it gave her the motivation to develop additional combinations of oils and bath salts to treat a wider variety of ailments. As her satisfied customer base grew, she was asked to sell her products through stores like Whole Foods and specialty markets across the nation to help an even larger number of people.
As you determine your motivation, see if you can identify the problem that you’re solving or the convenience that you’re creating. That will fuel your passion to grow your business.
2. Do I have the skills necessary to run my business?
There are a number of skill sets required in running a successful company. As the founder of a new business, you will be responsible for everything. You need to understand business operation, licensing, accounting, marketing, sales and all that’s related to the creation and delivery of your products and services. If you don’t have some of these skills, you’ll have to learn them or contract with others to provide them. Without the right skills, you may set yourself up for failure.
One woman told me that she wished that she understood this before she chose to open a small shop for baked goods and coffee drinks. Her family and friends raved about her baking and encouraged her to offer her products for sale. She found a space to lease and improved the property to open her own business. Unfortunately, she didn’t understand marketing and didn’t attract enough customers to support the operating costs of the shop. She closed her business just eight months after opening, and she drained her savings account.
You can avoid this kind of mistake simply by creating a detailed business plan ahead of time and speaking to a seasoned professional before you choose to invest in your new business. If you don’t know any successful business owners to review your plan, contact your local SCORE Office at the Small Business Administration and have one of their business mentors review your plan with you. There are a number of free online resources available with business plan templates that you can use. One that I like is Bplans. Determine all that your business will require on paper first to set yourself up for a greater possibility of success in the future.
3. Will I have enough time to run my new business and care for my family?
Since starting and running a new business takes a significant amount of attention, there will be times when you feel a bit out of balance. Your business may demand more devotion, which means that you’ll spend less time with your family. When a business is growing rapidly, it can sometimes feel like your business is running you and that you have no time for anything else. This may lead to burnout.
I have a friend who has three children, a wonderful husband and a retail business. Her company started to grow very quickly and finding employees to staff the store became difficult. She had to work at the business daily while her husband worked at his full-time job. There were days when she closed the store, picked her kids up from school and brought them back to the store to play while she worked. She felt guilty and very tired. Some days, she considered giving it all up. This is not uncommon. If you don’t plan in advance for the support that you need, you can become exhausted and overwhelmed.
My friend needed to have an advertisement for employees running at all times, even when she was fully staffed. She also needed to have part-time childcare support available periodically. If you plan for all of the different kinds of demands on your time upfront and surround yourself with the support that you need both at work and at home, you will be better able to live a balanced life.
As part of your business planning process, identify who will support you and your family should you have to go out of town suddenly or work later than you planned due to an urgent business need. Once your business is up and running, plan well in advance for business-related trips so that you can set aside time with your family prior to and after those trips. Mark special family events on your calendar as soon as possible for the entire year so that you can prevent conflicts with business events. Schedule a family fun night at least every other week, and regular family vacations, even if they are short staycations, as uninterrupted time spent together at home.
Taking the time to plan for your new business in advance will give you and your family the opportunity to determine whether entrepreneurship is the right path for you. Becoming a business owner can be a wonderful way for you to share your creativity and talents with others and to receive wonderful financial benefit in return. This kind of success is much more valuable when you have the right support and a balanced life. Good luck to you!