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Do You Have the Right Stuff?

If asked whether they had the "right stuff" to run a small business, most people who are interested in starting a new business would answer with a resounding "yes." But the purpose of this section is not to arrive at a yes or a no answer. Instead, it's designed to help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so that you'll be in a better position to make certain decisions that you'll have to make before you start a new small business.

There are two distinctly different roles you'll play while preparing to open and run your own small business. Each requires specific skills. On the one hand, you're the person who will be responsible for providing products or services to your customers. This is true whether you have employees or not. On the other hand, you also have to deal with all the activities that relate to running your business. You need to be able to handle both in order to succeed.

Since every business is unique (or should be), the specific skill set needed to provide products or services will vary. Do your best to gauge the scope of activities that make up the business. Be particularly careful not to overlook the less-enjoyable aspects of the business. And every business has a few. Regardless of your desire to go into business for yourself, if you lack needed skills, it's unlikely you'll succeed unless you find a way to compensate.

For example, should you take on partners? Should you hire an accountant or a lawyer? Should you hire a store manager (if you're opening a retail business)? Should you work from home? Your answer to these questions and many others will depend in large part upon which skills you have and which skills you lack.

To begin the process of examining your strengths and weaknesses, select one of the following: