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The Entrepreneur's Checklist: 7 Clues You're Ready to Own a Business

Arnie Fertig

Are you in a dead-end job that is stifling your creativity? Have you had it with your boss or are you just fed-up with working for someone else? Are you coming to the conclusion that you will never be hired again? Have you always wanted to build your own business?

Perhaps you're like Dennis Eidson, who left a high-paying job in corporate America to purchase an Honest-1 Auto Care franchise in Roswell, Ga., near Atlanta. While this has meant taking a significant, but hopefully short-term, step backward in income, Eidson relates that he loves "being in control of the top-line, bottom-line, and everything in the middle." Asked if he would do it again, he replies with enthusiasm: "No entrepreneur ever wants to go back to corporate America!"

"My clients are tired of working for 'the man.' They don't want to report to someone else any more, and are anxious to make their own decisions," relates Suzanne Gray, a small business coach with a nationwide clientele who works with The Entrepreneur's Source in New Hampshire. She often advises individuals with experience in the corporate environment to investigate going the route of purchasing a franchised business opportunity. Gray cites the advantages the structure, training, and tested models that franchises offer. Moreover, the federal government's Small Business Administration (SBA) has special programs to support franchise owners.

Owning your own business isn't the answer for everyone. Moreover, there are numerous considerations necessary to determine which is the right business opportunity for any particular individual. "Up front clarity is of critical importance," Gray counsels.

Here are just a few of the many issues every potential business owner must work through:

1. Be clear about what motivates you. Are you starting or buying a business because you're at a dead end? Is this an act of desperation because everything else you tried isn't working? Or is it the fulfillment of a long-term goal?

2. Be clear about both your technical and soft skills. Ann Bobbitt, who has a background in efficiency and auditing, says: "I can't go to people and say, 'Hire me.' I couldn't go out and knock on doors." With this self-understanding, Bobbitt sought a business where sales are largely derived by advertising, and is finding success at her newly purchased Maid Brigade franchise in Connecticut.

Often times, people think about beginning a business doing whatever it is they are doing in the corporate world. Yet Gray says that the business owner has larger responsibilities than just creating/delivering the goods or services of a business. He or she has to be involved with everything from marketing and public relations, to human resources, advertising, logistics, finances, and more.

3. Be clear about your own personality. Are you a self-starter? Are you a big-picture kind of person? Are you very detail-oriented? Can you create a vision of overall goals and understand how to create the day-to-day schedule for yourself and others to bring it to reality? Do you need prompting from someone else about what to do and when to do it? Successful business people tend to be self-starters who hold themselves accountable for their actions, day in and day out.

4. Be clear about your professional goals. Gray relates the story of a client who wanted to leave the corporate rat race to spend quality time with her young grandchildren. However, as this client was thinking about which business to buy, she nearly forgot to align her business goals with personal ones. The client was seriously considering a business that would require a heavy time commitment on weekends, the time she would most likely have access to her grandchildren. "When I pointed this conflict out to her, she was able to take a step back before making a flawed decision," Gray explains.

5. Be clear about your financial goals. Financial success is always a relative thing. One person's perception of failure may represent another person's success.

6. Be clear about your current financial capacity. Often, it takes months or years for a new business to begin making a profit. One of the most frequent causes for a business to fail is under-capitalization from the very beginning. Before you jump in, make certain you have clarity about how much you can comfortably invest and where else you can find initial capital. Bobbitt recognized that her success would depend on finding a partner with complementary skill sets as well as additional capital. "Make sure you have enough money, because you will need it," she warns.

7. Be clear about your decision-making capacity. Often, people who work in corporate life or for others have limited ability to make broad-based decisions and are simply fulfilling the dictates of others. Eidson stresses that you "need to be OK about making decisions and moving on. As a business owner, you just have to keep the business going, which is something you don't necessarily have to think about when you are just one person in a large corporation."

Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.

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