Deciding Whether to Start a Business? Take Stock of Your Life First

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The current recession has had an enormous impact on American workers. Job security is quickly becoming obsolete and many are looking to make major changes in both their work and home lives. Entrepreneurship is enticing.

Working for yourself means taking more control over your time, your finances, and your activities. Starting a business and making it successful is a tough but rewarding road, and it is important to take stock of your life and your future before you decide whether entrepreneurship is the right option for you.

Where You Are Now

Before you can decide where you want to go, you must figure out where you are now. Different life stages come with different responsibilities, different priorities, and different abilities. While there is no "right" answer for where you should be to launch a business, these factors can have an enormous effect on how you go about the process.

Start by taking a look at how you currently spend your time and money. Consider your absolute responsibilities and those areas you might be able and willing to sacrifice for a startup. Evaluate your financial position -- how much you have on hand and how much you can gather toward your startup. While you're at it, jot down some details about yourself.

Consider what you like to do and what you are good at doing. List your strengths and experience, both in and out of work. Often, this exercise will reveal business ideas that are well-suited to you and your work style...and important factor in entrepreneurial success!

Where You Want to Be

Once you have a good idea of where you are, develop a picture of where you want to be. Think about how you hope to spend your time -- not just in terms of work, but also family, hobbies, and other goals. Consider the resources you need to live the life you want and how entrepreneurship will help you attain those goals.

No matter what type of business you plan to launch, there are certain business fundamentals you will need to master. In addition, you will need to know the operations side of your venture inside and out. Evaluate any gaps in your skills and experience. What will you need to reach the life you want?

Make a Plan

Now that you can see where you are now compared with where you want to be, make a plan to get you from here to there. Evaluate the role that business ownership will play in your plan. You will likely have less free time as an entrepreneur, but often the time you do have is more flexible.

You may have to tighten your budget considerably to go out on your own, but you will have more control over your financial future in the long run. Develop a step-by-step list of what you need to do to move forward on your plan.

Get Organized

Every good plan needs the right tolls to be effectively implemented. Develop and use a planning system that will keep you on track. Set appointments for yourself to review your progress. If you have a family or significant other, involve them in the process. Big change requires big support -- don't expect to rely only on yourself.

If entrepreneurship is a part of your life plan, being work now on preparing yourself for the adventure. Set aside as much cash as possible and hone your business skills. Organize your schedule and responsibilities and set aside time to begin developing your business idea.

Conclusion

No matter where you are now, you can make your dreams of business ownership come true. Take stock of your current situation, decide where you want to go, make a plan (complete with deadlines), and get organized.

About the Author-K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur, is founder of LaunchX and authors a small business startup blog. The LaunchX System is designed to help entrepreneurs start a business the right way. Visit LaunchX.com for a free workbook to help you choose a business idea.

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