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Should I Start My Own Business

In challenging economic times such as the ones we are living through today with high unemployment and stagnant growth, many people are contemplating starting their own business.

A friend of mine, who has spent much of his career in Corporate America, recently asked me if I thought he should start his own business rather than try and get back into the corporate game. Below is the Cliff Notes version of that conversation:

Owning your own business is GREAT! It provides you with an outlet for creativity unlike anything you will find in the corporate arena where you most often find bureaucratic, turf-driven, hierarchical environments unresponsive and unimpressed with anything that resides outside-the-box.

You must understand your strengths and weaknesses before making such an important decision. While the corporate world serves a great purpose for millions of employees and millions of consumers of their products and services, everyone is NOT made for it.  Some people are just wired differently and need to be out on their own. I gave my friend a copy of Michael Gerber’s small business classic book, The E-Myth Revisited, and walked him through the three personalities: The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Technician. I explained that, according to Gerber, the average person is 10% Entrepreneur, 20% Manager and 70% Technician. If your personality weighs heavily toward The Entrepreneur side of the scale, you can rest assured that you are not wired for the corporate world. The Manager and Technician can survive that environment as long as they keep their Entrepreneur in check.

I also pointed my friend to another fantastic barometer of your entrepreneurial aptitude, the Kolbe A™ Index/Instinct Test, which articulates four styles – Quick-Start, Fact-Finder, Follow-Through and Implementer.  Those people who find themselves on the high end of either the Quick-Start or Implementer scale are probably not well suited for a life of nine-hour workdays in a cubicle. The other two styles can survive and even thrive in that environment.

I made sure he had no illusions about starting his own business explaining that it is NOT easy. On the contrary, it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT with astronomically high failure rates.  I counseled him to contemplate the decision carefully and advised him to choose a business that he is truly passionate about as that passion will keep him going during the tough times.

I recommended that he have two years worth of living expenses saved up before taking the plunge and, finally, I told him he MUST be willing and prepared to work harder than he ever has before.

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching

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