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Do You Have What It Takes?

Starting a small business takes a lot of courage. Unfortunately, courage doesn't pay the bills. To be successful — to stay in business — you need more than courage. You need a combination of hard work, skill, perseverance, and good old-fashioned luck.

Who Starts New Businesses?

Generally, people who start their own businesses can be grouped into two broad categories:

  • The first group consists of people who know exactly what they want to do and are merely looking for the opportunity or resources to do it. Usually, these people have already developed many of the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen field. They are also likely to be familiar with industry customs and practices, which can help during the startup phase of a new business.
  • The second group consists of people who want to start their own business, but don't have any real definite ideas about what they'd like to do. While these people have developed skills in the course of their employment or education, they may not be interested in opening a business in the same field of endeavor.

How To Proceed

For those who know what they want to do, the task is a bit easier. There's no need to research business ideas and opportunities to decide which might be suitable. Instead, these folks can jump right in and assess their chances for success in the type of business they've selected.

Those who merely want out of the traditional corporate world have an extra step: choosing the right small business for you.

In this section, we'll take a closer look at just how much hard work, skill, and perseverance you'll need if you're to be successful. (We can't do much about the luck.) We'll try to give you a sense of what you can expect from a small business, as well as what a small business will expect from you.

To evaluate your own aptitude for small business ownership, you need to:

  • Understand the responsibilities of ownership. What's involved in owning a business and what are the roles you'll have to play if you own one? This is a good place to start if you're considering starting your own business but haven't owned one before.
  • Set your goals. What do you want from your business? If you want to "succeed," how will you know if you get there? Knowing what you want from your business permeates all of the other decisions you'll have to make in starting a new business. It will affect which business you choose, how you evaluate your chances for success, and how you determine if you have the right skills.
  • Find out if you have the right stuff How can you evaluate your own skills and make judgments about whether you're ready to own your own business? This is a good place to start if you already know that you want to own a business.
  • Estimate the impact on your everyday life. How will your life change when you become a business owner? Many of the more "secure" aspects of employee life will vanish when you open up your own business.