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Many people dream of breaking free from working for companies and start their own businesses. This entrepreneurial spirit may be one factor in making these dreams come true, but it isn't everything needed to make a business successful.
To get a business off the ground, you will need capital, dedication and experience in many fields that may not be relevant to your background or interesting to you personally. You also need to be prepared for the potential of many failures before achieving a level of success that makes your business feasible.
With all of this in mind, a decision to start a business must be taken very seriously. A lot of planning must be done ahead of even jumping into requesting a business loan. Your business planning must take into consideration the cost, the licensing requirements, the potential need to hire staff and lease office space, etc. In addition, you must do all of this while you're still your full-time job, which means for several months — or even years — you might have to juggle both.
To be sure that your decision to move to the business world is right for you, think of the following points.
Looking to start a new business just to escape a bad job could be the wrong move. Your business planning must take into consideration that a bad or a good job, won't be part of your future anyhow. So think of it this way, would you be happier if you're in a different position or a different company? If your answer is, ''yes,'' then you need to look for a new job rather than starting your own business.
If you think, however, that regardless of the job that you might get, your business idea is more rewarding, then that is a good start to pursue this route. In all cases, be honest about what's driving your decision, and be realistic about the prospects of your business. Having a friend or a former co-worker who is successful as an entrepreneur in the same field doesn't guarantee your success.
Many projects fail because people underestimate the costs. You will need to consider the initial costs, as well as all the capital needed to ensure that you stay afloat until the business becomes profitable. In many small businesses, years of breaking even are considered a success. So be realistic about your financial resources and eligibility for credit. In fact, your research should include visits to banks, discussions with potential investors and probably a discussion with an accountant, if you're not well-versed in financial matters.
The financial side is not an area to be ignored or taken lightly. If you become unable to sustain your business and any staff that you hire, you will have to shut down even if you're close to turning to profit.
Your overall career
Quitting a job isn't the end of the world, but quitting to start a business that may or may not work and takes several years out of your career is a serious matter. If you're on a roll in your career and you've been climbing the corporate ladder, receiving training and building your skills in various areas, sticking with what you're doing must be considered. There is a good time to start a business, but you must be sure first that you've the skills and stamina required to build a successful business.
Take a good look at your overall career so far, your knowledge of the industry, your contacts and your resources. If you feel that many of these are lacking, spending a few more years in the corporate world may hone your abilities and make it easier for you to launch your business.
Have an exit plan
A successful business plan must include an exit strategy. Thinking about the potential of having to exit the business isn't negative; it is realistic and smart. You will need to understand clearly where this may put you financially and professionally. Ask yourself, what you will have to do next to return to the job market and score a job. In addition, how you will explain your experience to future employers. Will you be willing to try again? Will you seem to be a threat or a competitor to some potential employers?
When you have answers to these questions and you're fully aware of your strategies and motifs, jumping into the business world can be a much smoother journey. It is all about planning and taking all potential consequences into consideration.
Starting a business
• Don't react to a bad job
• Consider professional and financial consequences
• Think of your overall career implications
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Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor