Starting a business isn’t something to take lightly. However, as a coach, I’ve found that many clients are more prepared than they give themselves credit. If you are debating whether you are ready, here are five signs that will show how ready you are to handle whatever your business has in store for you.
1. You understand that you will never truly be “ready.”
Some people think “being ready” means being completely prepared. However, any experienced entrepreneur will tell you, you can’t be prepared for everything that lays ahead. Yes, there are some absolutes that need to be taken care of before you turn on the “Open” sign, but those are obvious and are usually the first things checked off. The point is that too often beginning entrepreneurs put off getting started so they can tinker and revise. They fail to realize what they have is good enough to get started.
Now, I’m not advocating leading off with something less than your best. Just be aware there comes a point where continually tweaking costs you more in time, missed opportunities, or lost revenue than what your adjustments would have brought in return.
2. You know how to sell.
You can have the passion and drive. You can have a clear vision of exactly where you want your business to go. You can even have the greatest product with a killer hook. Unfortunately, none of that will matter if you don’t know how to sell.
When starting a business, selling is paramount to your success. But, selling isn’t just talking to customers. Investors, partners, your employees, even your spouse and family will need to be sold. In fact, some people will need to be sold and resold. Now this doesn’t mean knowing how to manipulate people into doing what you want. Effective selling is about how well you can communicate an idea so others will buy in to it so they take ownership as well.
3. You have a financial plan to stay afloat.
One reason people never actually become an entrepreneur is because of the financial risk involved. While there is risk, how well you’ve planned to address it can be the difference between success and failure.
For some entrepreneurs, it is possible to keep your full-time job while you work part-time on growing your business. This can be a plus if you can depend on a steady paycheck along with the other benefits from your employer. However, if your business requires you to be accessible at all times, then you might be handicapping yourself by only working on your business during small windows of time when your full-time job allows.
If your business needs your time and attention all day, every day, to be successful, then you should consider having a reserve to cover your living expenses. You’ll hear people recommend having enough money for as little as six months or as much as two years. The correct answer lies at whatever amount provides you peace of mind. Starting a business requires your best. If you are preoccupied about living expenses instead of making your business a success, then you won’t be giving your best self to your business.
4. You’ve fired your ego.
If you’re too concerned about always being “right” or constantly need to prove to everyone that you can figure it out on your own, you may want to think twice about whether you are ready to start your business. Mistakes and unfamiliar territory are part of starting out and will continue as you grow. If you are willing to be the student from time to time, as opposed to always being the expert, you’ll have an easier time going forward.
Being an entrepreneur can be a humbling experience, but it is in those times when you learn the most about what it takes to be successful. In fact, you should be willing to do jobs that you hate or hold little interest for you. For example, if you are opening a restaurant because you’re passionate about cooking, keep in mind that someone will still need to work with vendors, keep the books and clean the bathrooms. If your ego tells you those jobs are beneath you, then you’ll be closing your doors before you know it.
5. You’ve written a business plan.
When you talk about starting a business, writing a business plan seems like common sense. The problem is that like diet and exercise, common sense isn’t always common practice. I’ve seen clients who are so overwhelmed at the thought of writing a business plan they don’t know where to start and quit before they’ve begun. I’ve seen others who are so sure about themselves (there’s that ego again), that they claim they don’t need a business plan and could better use the time “actually working on the business.”
The beauty of a business plan is twofold. One, it forces you to be clear on what exactly you intend to do and how you will do it. Most people deal in broad strokes and generalities. When you write it down, you are forced to get specific. Second, a well-written business plan becomes a living document for your business that evolves from year to year. It not only becomes a way to benchmark and evaluate your progress, it becomes a planning tool for the future.
As a coach, I’ve found that most people who are questioning whether they are ready actually just need a vote of confidence and a gentle nudge to begin. If you see the signs listed above in your preparation to begin your business, consider this your push out of the nest. You might find that you are better prepared than you thought.