Should You Start a New Business in 2011?

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If you have ever wanted to open a new business then 2011 might just be your year.
Many people have taken career paths where self employment is a natural progression. You can have a great idea such as the Frisbee, a talent such as an artist, or a skill like a physician. Whatever the situation, you want to be your own boss. This is a good thing. Small business drives the economy; every business, whether the local dry cleaner or Dell Computer, was started by someone like you.


Before you quit your day job and take the plunge into entrepreneurship here are 10 thoughts to consider.


1. Do you have a passion for what you are going to do?

You will need to bounce out of bed each day, self motivating yourself to accomplish a daily work plan to achieve daily goals. You will have to take action solely on your own volition. There are hundreds of things that won't get done unless you do them. As your own boss, that zone out hour to work on your fantasy football team will be a thing of the past.


2. Can you delegate and accept advice?

Running a business requires the performance of dozens of simultaneous tasks, and it's foolish to try to handle them all yourself. You must surround yourself with partners and employees whom you can trust to perform these tasks as you would yourself. You will need to be able dish out responsibility without worrying over the result. You will need advice and counsel from experienced business people to guide you as the business grows.


3. Are you ready to work harder than ever?

Starting a business is easy, right? Wrong! If you think working for someone else is hard work, try starting your own business. You will be required to give every ounce of blood, sweat and tears you can muster. You will have to work long hours and be on call 24/7, at least in the beginning. You think you can take a sick day or a vacation? Who is going to run the business?


4. Are you customer focused?

You are the customer satisfaction department and problem solver. As an entrepreneur, you will understand the cliché "The customer is King or Queen!" Can you figure out how to appease your customer when the shipment from Chicago gets delayed three days because of a snowstorm? Be polite to people and living by another cliché "Treat people as you want to be treated" will make being customer focused the center of your business model.


5. Can you sell?

Every business needs to sell a product or service. Without a sale, there is no way to make money. Even though customers are the lifeblood of every business, you'd be surprised at how many entrepreneurs hate this aspect of doing business. Do you cringe at the thought of cold-calling (walking into a business and asking to speak to the owner)? Can you pick up the phone, call a prospect and ask for an appointment without breaking into a cold sweat? If you are not comfortable selling, you should keep your job or look for one.


6. Are you a forward thinker and detailed?

 According to the Small Business Administration, two-thirds of new businesses survive for at least two years, and only 44 percent survive at least four years. They fail because they do not plan. You will need to write a business plan and do financial forecasts even if you do not need funding.


7. Can you handle rejection?

If your feelings are easily hurt, work for someone else. Many days in business, rejection waits around every corner, and you must be able to handle rejection without letting it beat you down. You will experience rejection from customers, business partners, bankers and investors, just to name a few.


8. Do you interact well with others?

Being a business owner means that you will have daily interaction with a variety of folks, from your own employees to vendors to customers to investors. You must have the ability to manage people effectively without offending them; the ability to accept good advice from mentors and politely discount the bad; the ability to overlook mistakes or quietly rectify them; and one of the most difficult: the ability to tolerate incompetence without losing your cool.


9. Do you have financial backing?

You have a great idea or service. Your business plan is perfect. You might feel there is no way a lender can turn you down. The reality is that most lenders want a proven concept and during these times the lender will want you to answer this question: "Should your company go under, how to I get my loan back?" Before you start your business, you should have enough capital to see you through the first year or until the business can sustain itself. So be prepared to sell the boat, your jewelry, or ask Aunty Anne for a loan (and get the terms in writing).


10. Do you have experience in the type of business you plan to start?

If you can't locate your car's engine, you have no business buying a Lube-N-Go franchise. The most successful business owners have prior experience in the industry in which they have set up shop.
And here's one extra tip to consider- As mentioned earlier, you are the customer service department, but also, the marketing planner, the accountant, the inventory control specialist, the head of HR, the chief copywriter, and the sales strategist. If you need help in any area consider a business adviser to walk you through the maze and do some oif the work for you.


At the end of the day, if you have what it takes to start your own business in 2011, then I strongly urge you to jump into the entrepreneur pool with both feet.

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