By Jayson Demers
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” — Anonymous
Do you have the bug? You know, that pervasive itch that you just can’t ignore? No, I’m not talking about some disease. Rather, I’m talking about the urge to create something for yourself, to carve out your own space in the world, to create something from nothing. I’m talking about starting a business.
Many who have the itch set out to build a business from the ground up, only to discover that they aren’t ready for the entrepreneurial life. Most people have no idea just how brutal it really is. It requires a lot of hard work, and a lot of sleepless nights. Many have been pushed to the brink of suicide, unable to cope with the stress involved with being an entrepreneur.
Before you dive into creating a business plan, you need to assess an important question: Are you ready for the entrepreneurial life? Here’s a checklist to help you answer that question.
1. It’s all you think about. From the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment you rest your racing head on the pillow each night, you’re consumed by your potential business. Constantly brainstorming product ideas, features and marketing strategies (prior to even having a company) doesn’t qualify you as an entrepreneur, but it does give you a leg up on those who lack that quality. Passion is what will get you through the tough times and those moments when everyone else is telling you you’re crazy.
Successful entrepreneurs are defined by the ability to wait for gratification.
2. You’re beyond determined. Motivation is everything when you want to be an entrepreneur. But to really embrace the entrepreneurial lifestyle, you have to be chronically determined.
When something goes horribly wrong, how do you react? The real-deal entrepreneur will just shrug it off, fix the issue and resolve to do things differently next time. This doesn’t mean entrepreneurs aren’t allowed to get stressed, but it does mean they know how to solve problems and manage stress effectively. Too many people with genuinely good ideas get discouraged the moment they hit their first roadblock.
Being an entrepreneur means driving through a road littered with obstacles and being able to knock every single one down.
3. You take criticism as motivation. People in and out your industry, fellow business owners and those just watching from the sidelines are all going to tell you that your ideas stink. They’re going to criticize and pick apart every aspect of your business. Why? Because that’s what people do.
For various reasons, most people like to find the flaws in the things others create. A quick gander at the comments on pretty much any YouTube video will tell you that much.
People who have the right mindset to launch a business aren’t deterred by other people’s negative comments. Rather, they’re spurned on by them. A true entrepreneur responds to doubt with, “You think I can’t do this? Watch me prove you wrong!” And trust me on this: that’s as good a motivation as any.
4. You aren’t broke. You don’t need to be swimming in a sea of cash, but having some money in the bank can help big time. The more cash you have on hand, the less you’ll need to borrow. And the less debt you can start out with, the better.
If you do need to borrow the funds to get your business going, be as conservative in your estimates as you can while still being realistic. Borrowing too little could mean you don’t have enough funds to accommodate your expenses (or your payroll) before you start to turn a profit.
5. You have healthy coping mechanisms for stress. Those with the entrepreneurial mindset have a predisposition toward heightened levels of stress and anxiety. In fact, according to the Gallup-Health ways Well-Being Index, 34 percent of entrepreneurs indicated they were worried, while 45 percent said they were stressed. This reflects a 4 percent and 3 percent higher rate than workers who are not entrepreneurs.
This has to do with the fact that entrepreneurs are prone to having more intense emotional states. The intense motivation associated with successful entrepreneurs comes with an increased likelihood of intense depression and anxiety. As such, healthy coping mechanisms for stress are vital to living the entrepreneurial life. For help with reducing stress, see my article here, which is based on my own experiences.
Not everyone is made for the entrepreneurial life. But hopefully you now have a sense of whether you’d make the cut.