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Starting: Do You Have Blinders On? 5 Questions to Ask Before You Launch

Take a Start-Up Self Assessment

Few of us would willingly cross a busy intersection with blinders on, and yet plenty of new entrepreneurs do something just as crazy: they enter the marketplace with lots of zeal and enthusiasm, but without first doing a self-assessment. An honest self-assessment may be the most important key to future entrepreneurial success.

What’s an honest self-assessment? That’s one of the questions I posed in a recent interview with Colleen De Baise, the small business editor and author of The Wall Street Journal, Complete Small Business Guidebook. De Baise shared five of the most important questions that every entrepreneur needs to consider before launching a business:

  • Passion: How enthusiastic am I about my service or product? How you feel about it will affect your ability to promote it to customers and investors.
  • Risk tolerance: Launching a business is inherently risky. How well am I likely to handle the uncertainty I encounter along the way?
  • Comfort level making decisions: Am I decisive or indecisive in my decision-making? Am I self-confident, or do I second guess once I’ve made a decision?
  • Ability to multitask: If I’m a company of one, a sole proprietor, I’ll be responsible for a whole host of duties, from sales to inventory. Am I comfortable taking on each of those positions?
  • Able to avoid burnout: For many successful entrepreneurs, the tendency to work 24/7 can be irresistible. Can I resist the workaholic urge, and maintain good health and good relationships with my family and friends?

Most entrepreneurs recognize that launching a business is inherently risky, but an honest self-assessment can put entrepreneurs in a stronger position to weather the uncertainties of operating a new business.

Heather Taylor, Guest Blogger
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Philanthropy: How Small Biz Can Help in the Oil Spill Disaster
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There is Plenty You Can Do

Small business people are action-takers and a lot of us want to help out in the Gulf Coast. Here is what you can do:

Volunteer: Whether it is giving staff time off to volunteer or going down there yourself, giving time can make a difference, but note: Have a plan first. There are apparently a lot of other people with the same idea.

So start by contacting the right agency. Check out these state volunteer websites:

Volunteer Louisiana – (800.755.5175)
Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service
Volunteer Florida
211 Connects Alabama (866.869.4921)

The government’s volunteer hotline is1-866-448-5816, and BP’s is 1-866-448-5816. Tristate Bird Rescue & Research is also coordinating volunteer efforts, as is the National Audubon Society.

Buy Dawn Detergent: Dishwashing detergent is used to clean oil off animals. If you purchase a bottle of Dawn, $1 will go towards the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center. You trigger it by registering at the Dawn website.

Donate: The International Bird Rescue Research Center allows you to donate or adopt a bird. If your business would like to donate to the Audubon Society, go to this site. Other donation options include: The National Wildlife Federation, Alabama Coastal Foundation, and Save our Seabirds.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Another way to help is to reduce the carbon footprint of your business and thereby make the country less dependent on fossil fuels. has a calculator to help you analyze your company’s carbon footprint, and the site offers a variety of ways to help you offset it.

Use Twitter: For current news on volunteer and relief efforts in the Gulf, there are several Twitter feeds / lists you can subscribe to: Crisis Camp’s list#oilspillEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and BP_America.

Speak up: Contact your Congressman or Senator. Write an op-ed. Organize a donation drop.

Use your entrepreneurial skills in creative, new ways.

Steve Strauss - Founder, and
Steven is one of the world’s leading entrepreneurship and small business experts. He is a lawyer, public speaker and author, speaking around the world about entrepreneurship. He has been seen on CNN, CNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and his column, Ask an Expert, appears weekly on | | @stevestrauss | More from Steve


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