The Solopreneur Self-Assessment: Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Launch Your Own Business
Being a solopreneur takes more than a business idea, compliance with regulations, and cash to get things off the ground. It’s a state and style of business ownership that requires a level of commitment that isn’t a good match for anyone and everyone.
If you’ve been thinking about becoming a solopreneur in 2012, here are some direct questions you should ask yourself before taking the leap:
Why do I want to be a solopreneur?
Ability to set your own schedule, getting paid for doing what you love… It’s critical to your success to think about what’s driving your decision to start a business. There really aren’t any wholly right or wrong answers to this one, but I caution anyone whose motivation stems from frustration about dealing with the personalities and temperaments of their superiors and coworkers. As a solopreneur, you’ll need people skills to a higher degree than ever before. You’ll be representing your brand everywhere you go – online and offline. Being able to foster a positive reputation and create good will is essential. Burning bridges is not an option; it can ruin you before you get off the ground.
Do those who matter support my decision?
Anyone who depends on you emotionally, physically or financially should be on-board with your decision before you jump in. That means you have to be realistic with them about the risks and sacrifices that come with business ownership. You might need to cut back (or completely eliminate) weekend dinners out on the town and buying full-price Abercrombie might become a thing of the past. Not only that, but you might also find yourself working weekends or taking business calls during the dinner hour. Prepare those around you for the lifestyle changes that will come with the territory – and gain their acceptance.
Can I accept criticism – and being 100% accountable?
It’s all you, baby! That can be both a blessing and a curse for solopreneurs. It’s a terrific position to be in when all things are running smoothly, but when they’re not, you’ll be faced with placating anyone who questions your pricing, policies, and products or services. Hopefully the punches will be few and far between, but as a solopreneur, you’ll be the one who needs to roll with them.
What if this doesn’t work?
The power of positive thinking goes a long way, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have a back-up plan. Put some thought into what your options are if being in business for yourself doesn’t quite work out. Luckily, being a solopreneur gives you the capacity to become well-connected in the community. Be sure to network (both face-to-face and online) to build a strong base of connections who know you and your professional strengths. Fortunately, that also gives you clout as a business owner – so if you do it well, you may never need to move to “Plan B”.
Do I need help?
When you’re starting a solo business, there are lots of i’s to dot and t’s to cross. Do you really have a firm grasp on all that’s involved? As a solopreneur, you need to realize and acknowledge your business smarts and skills deficits before you serve your first client or customer. There are organizations out there that can help. My personal favorite is SCORE, an organization with over 360 chapters nationwide. They provide free mentoring and low-cost business workshops to start-up entrepreneurs and those with existing businesses. If you’ve got unanswered questions, registering to meet with one of their mentors would be a wise decision. Expert advice and feedback from a third party can give you new insight and a fresh perspective – and increase your likelihood of succeeding.
What other questions should solopreneurs ask before declaring themselves “open for business”?