By Adelaide Lancaster, co-author of “The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business That Works for You“
It’s easy to think of most entrepreneurs as big-thinking creative types, who are always innovating and taking big risks. The truth is that most of us are just everyday people who by luck, fate or circumstance have decided to work for themselves. Maybe we lost our jobs, maybe we couldn’t find the right opportunity, or maybe we just got fed up with the corporate way. In any case, we’ve taken matters into our own hands and decided that we would be our own best bosses. That doesn’t mean the decision was easy or absent of angst. But now that we are on the other side most of us will tell you that we’d never go back. We’ve tasted the freedom of entrepreneurship and are hooked. We’ve also realized that there is room enough for lots of entrepreneurs and that everyone has the opportunity to create their own style of entrepreneurship. We want you to join our ranks! So for those of you that are still contemplating the leap, let us share with you the questions we think you should be asking yourself. If the answers are yes, then a business just may be in your future!
1. Does It Make You Excited?
One thing that every business requires is enthusiasm. You have to be energized about your idea! If you’re not excited, then how can you expect others to be? So make sure that you choose a business that you can really get behind and not just any ol’ thing that you think will make money. The work just isn’t worth it if the cause isn’t interesting!
2. Is Different . . . Enough?
Many people believe that there are no new ideas. While that might be a bit extreme, it is fair to say that no business is 100% different than everything else out there. But what matters is that your idea is different enough that people find it interesting and worth sharing. So don’t worry about doing something that’s been done. Improving upon an already successful business model is a great strategy!
3. Would It Pain You If It Never Came To Fruition?
Of all the business-related angst I’ve witnessed, nothing seems more haunting than the experience of regret. That mournful curiosity about “what could have been” — if only you had done something differently and given your business venture a shot. It’s a feeling much worse than failure. That doesn’t meant that you need to pursue every idea you have, but you owe it to your future self to at least explore the possibility seriously. You won’t regret things that you decide not to do for a good reason, only the things you decide not to do for bad ones.
4. Is It Worth Giving Something Else Up?
All businesses require some level of sacrifice. Whether it’s fewer social events, a tightened-up budget, or the loss of corporate perks, something’s got to give to make room for the enormous commitment that businesses take. So it’s important to consider what you would give up to bring your idea to life. If the list is relatively short, then you may want to move on. It might not be the right time or the right idea. However, if the possibility of working for yourself feels more valuable than other things you spend your time and money on, then that’s worth paying attention to.
5. Does It Get Good Feedback?
Not everyone has to love it, but your idea should at least be conversation-worthy. When you talk about your idea, do people understand what you are explaining? Do they seem interested and excited? Do they ask good questions and give relevant suggestions? Great business ideas are those that can be built upon and that garner intrigue (and investment!) from others. So consider it a good thing if people are responding to your idea with statements like “maybe you should,” “what if you,” or “have you ever thought of doing this?”So, where do you stand? Are you ready to jump? If not, give yourself some time and keep exploring the idea. If yes, welcome! The opportunities and rewards are more than you can imagine.
Adelaide Lancaster is an entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of “The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business That Works for You” (Portfolio/Penguin). She is also the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first-of-its-kind community, learning center and co-working space for women entrepreneurs in New York City. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post, and a columnist for The Daily Muse and The Hired Guns.