SCORE Small Business Blog

Ready to Start a Business? First, Do a Reality Check
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Are you thinking of starting your own business? You’re not alone–more than half of U.S. adults have seriously considered becoming entrepreneurs, says a study by 1&1 Internet.

Why do people want to start their own businesses? The wish to be their own boss rules nearly one-fourth of respondents, while 19 percent want to enjoy better work/life balance, and 21 percent dream of turning a hobby into a business. Finally, 20 percent want to start a “side business” to earn extra income.

These are all valid reasons for starting a business, but it’s important to have a reality check before launching your venture. Here’s a closer look at these top reasons for starting a business, and what you need to know:

  1. I want to be my own boss. As an entrepreneur, you won’t have a boss—you’ll have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of them (if you’re lucky). They’re called customers, and you’ll need to please them just as much as (or more than) the boss in your day job. And guess what? Some of them might be just as annoying as your old boss was.
  2. I want a better work/life balance. Yes, as an entrepreneur, you might get more flexibility to make your own schedule. On the other hand, you might not, because you not only need to satisfy those customers, you also need to do all the behind-the-scenes work of marketing your business, sending out invoices, reconciling your books. Especially in the startup stage, days lounging on the beach will be few and far between, balanced by things like working on Christmas.
  3. I want to turn my hobby into a business. The fun of doing a hobby is a lot different than the reality of making it profitable. For instance, if you love baking pies and want to start a pie shop, know that your business will be about 10 percent baking pies and 90 percent marketing, managing, hiring and juggling finances—not to mention sweeping the shop and taking out the trash. Yes, you can find partners or employees to handle the business end, but this might not be affordable at first.
  4. I want extra money from a side business. Starting a side business is a great way to test the waters of business ownership, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Most jobs today are more than full-time themselves, so adding 20-plus hours a week of part-time work on to that is no picnic. Make sure your family is on board with the fact you’ll have basically no free time. And make sure your new business doesn’t conflict with, overlap with or in any way take clients or resources away from your full-time job, or you might end up looking for a new job.

Don’t get me wrong–I love being my own boss, despite all the challenges mentioned above. But I see too many people get into business without knowing what to expect. Meeting with a SCORE mentor can help you prepare for all the realities of startup and be ready to meet the challenges with enthusiasm. Don’t have a mentor? Visit www.score.org to get matched with one and get free advice 24/7.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship.
www.growbizmedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

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