September 21, 2010

Start a Business for the Right Reasons

A lot of people are starting side businesses these days, which I think is a terrific idea. Provided you don’t lose your shirt, you’re bound to benefit.

After all,  running a business gives you a productive way to use your free time, provides experience in things like bookkeeping and marketing, and may even help you pay the mortgage.

Business ownership offers another benefit that most of us need desperately: Perspective. You can’t run a business for long without coming to appreciate what your bosses have endured over the years. There’s nothing like trying to pay the electric bill and the vendors while also finding enough for your own salary to make you appreciate being an employee.

Another way that being a business owner provides perspective is by erasing the myth that you are your own boss. With very few exceptions, business owners serve at the whim of everyone from customers to bankers to staff. Even the bathroom fixtures get to call more shots than the owner – when the toilet backs up, a worker can still leave at shift’s end, but the owner must stay until the problem is solved.

So is a business startup a bad idea? Not at all. It’s still a terrific idea. It’s just more satisfying when you know what you’re in for before you begin – and when your goals more closely match the reality you’re about to experience. Here are a couple of points to help you plan the leap into entrepreneurship.

1. It’s good to know why you’re doing this. If money is your main priority, knowing that will direct your thinking on everything from advertising to pricing. If independence is your goal, you’ll want to avoid tying yourself down. That means no storefront, for example, or you’ll never be free to come and go.

2. It’s good to know how you’ll leave the business. Understanding from the start whether you’re building a business to sell or to provide a lifelong income for your family or to simply give you an interesting outlet on the weekends will impact how you set things up – and how much you enjoy yourself.

So is it go or no go? I say go. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial itch there’s no time like the present. If it doesn’t fly, you can always blame it on the economy; but if it soars, you’ll be glad you did it.

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