Lately, becoming an entrepreneur is sold as something that’s easier than going to the bathroom.
There are endless stories about moms bringing in millions after creating a new baby product that makes everyone’s life better. Or the kid in grammar school who can retire on the cash she’s bringing in from her lemonade stand.
This makes it seem like it’s a sure thing for so many people desperate to find work and whose employment prospects aren’t looking that great.
Just today, the National Association for Business Economics survey reported that most employers weren’t planning on hiring anytime soon.
I just did a story for MSNBC.com today on extending the retirement age, and about eight of the 15 or so experts I interviewed suggested retirees who needed money and were unable to find work should start their own companies.
Is this sound advice?
*First off, where are they going to get money to start a business? Banks have largely tightened up on lending money to existing businesses. What makes them think a start up by a desperate retiree or jobless person is going to get funding?
*Secondly, creating a thriving business is just plain hard. According the the Small Business Administration about 50 percent of business fail within the first five years.
*Thirdly, and most importantly, not everyone is cut out to be their own boss. That’s not a bad thing, that’s just how it is.
I’ve been getting lots of emails lately from readers who keeping hearing all this entrepreneurship hype and figure they should look into it. But too often they tell me they have no idea what to sell. Some ask me what I think and want me to suggest a product or service. This is probably a big sign you probably won’t make it as a business owner because you need to be at least a little bit passionate about a product or service if you’re going to make a go of it.
I don’t want to discourage people from at least checking into entrepreneurship, but if you just don’t think it’s right for you, don’t waste your job-hunting energy.
That said, if you still feel compelled to at least ponder the idea, and you may be one of those lucky few with entrepreneurial blood running through your veins, here’s a story I wrote for MSN on who’s cut out to be an entrepreneur; and also I decided to ask some experts in entrepreneurship to offer their thoughts.
Here’s a Q&A with Stella Grizont and Karla Lightfoot, market directors of Ladies Who Launch, a women’s entrepreneurship resource:
Q. What are some signs it may be time for a long-time employee to take the entrepreneurial plunge?
A. Many entrepreneurs say that they just kept hearing a little voice telling them to go out on their own. In fact, they say that the voice eventually became so loud that they had no other choice but to go for it!
Daydreaming about being your own boss during staff or client meetings.
People think your ideas are too big.
Your work schedule isn’t working for your life.
You look at your job and say is this all there is? Because you know that you want to make a bigger imprint on the world.
Q. How do you know a product, or service you come up with will be a viable business?
A. Profitability is what makes a product or service viable. If you cannot make a profit there’s no reason to move forward. You have to do your research. Determine your target audience and find out if they want your product or service. Find comparable products and services in your industry and look at how they’re making money. Set up focus groups or send out surveys to garner feedback from your potential audience.
Many women take our four-week Incubator Intensive Workshop to garner ideas and feedback and participate in a group of five to ten women who keep them accountable and focused on getting things done. The workshops are held monthly throughout the NYC area. Check out www.ladieswholaunch.com/nyc for details.
Q. What are the two or three things you should know before you launch a business?
A. 1. Set up a Mastermind Group. It can be lonely out there. Remember, you’re not on a team in Corporate America anymore. Pull together a support system, team and advisory board to keep you focused, on track and in touch with other like-minded entrepreneurs and experts!
2. Get your finances in order! Be clear about how much money you need to live while launching and how much you need to launch. Whether you’re self-investing, taking out a loan or pitching investors, make sure you’re confident about what you need and then double or triple it. (Women in particular tend to underestimate the amount of money needed).
3. Know your strengths. Focus on the things you do best and delegate the rest. As an entrepreneur you’ll need to wear many hats, but it there are things that you absolutely know that you’re not great at or you don’t enjoy doing, find someone who can handle those tasks for you. Often you can barter or budget for these services.
Q. What happens if you fail?
A. Is there really such a thing as failure or is failure just a launching pad for success? We’ve all heard the quote from Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they “failed” a multitude of times, but most importantly, they are willing to learn from their mistakes and move forward. What’s the worst that can happen? You could choose to return to the workforce with new insights, knowledge and ideas. That’s something that companies value and appreciate more than ever before. And that’s a good thing.
Q. How do you know you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur?
A. Your passion for your service or product overrides the fear or potential risk involved in taking the entrepreneurial leap. You are open to change and enjoy growth, challenge, and creativity. You are tenacious, but flexible. You are ready and willing to learn and learn again. You understand that entrepreneurship is a journey.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ladies Who Launch, they’re having their largest event of the year in NYC on November 8th-9th. Career Diva readers receive $100 off. Visit www.dreamitlaunchitliveit.com and use promo code: LWL100 for your discount!
(Note to readers: I derive no economic gain for this event.)