By The Young Entrepreneur Council

This isn't meant to put you off your desire to get out of a cubicle. But it is meant to serve as a reminder that becoming an entrepreneur is like stepping onto a never-ending roller coaster.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs approach setting up a business with stars in their eyes. The rose-tinted glasses stay on until they run up against tough times.

What sounds like the sexiest title alive is often just a cover for the harsh realities that will face any first-time entrepreneur. If you can get through the first six months, congratulations. If you get to two years, even better. If you make it to five, you are a rare breed.

This isn't meant to put you off your desire to get out of a cubicle. But it is meant to serve as a reminder that becoming an entrepreneur is like stepping onto a never-ending roller coaster. You will have ups and downs, failures and success; probably more of the former. Before you dive in, ask yourself why you want to become an entrepreneur. You may conjure up such reasons as:

"I want to quit being a slave to the corporate world."

"I want autonomy and the opportunity to earn what I'm worth."

"I want the freedom to control my own life and work my own hours."

Now ask yourself if you're prepared to hustle to earn your success. How do we turn our dreams into a reality? And how we do know that we're the right person to become a successful business owner?

The entrepreneur equation.

First, you have to find out if you really are cut out to be an entrepreneur. Do you know your true motivations? How do your personal and professional skills serve you? Are you truly committed to build a thriving business? Do you have great connections? How about your tolerance for risk?

What do you have already?

What's behind your drive to start a business, and which of those motivations are truly practical? While freedom is a worthy cause, for the first two or so years it's unlikely you'll have more of it, in fact you'll likely have less. But if you have desire coupled with determination, you're probably on the right track.

Is the risk worth the reward?

So many people have a new business idea and immediately think it's a winner. They don't test it out on anyone; they don't qualify if there's a need for it, and they don't determine if there's even a target market for the idea. As 'boring' as planning may sound, it can be the difference between a thriving business, or a flash-in-the-pan failure. Entering a business competition can be a great way to get your plan and objectives in place and test it on real investors and mentors who can guide your thinking and business model to success.

Is the timing right?

While there may never be a perfect time to start your business, you can make a more informed decision based on your financial runway, your experience to get you through and acquire paying clients, your current personal obligations, and the relationships you have. Don't wait until the stars are aligned, but also don't dig another hole just to start your business right now. Especially if in a few months you can dig out of your current hole to start on a firmer foundation.

Are you a dreamer or a doer?

If you really enjoy doing something, a good way to test the waters is to see if there's potential for a side-hustle. You may be better off with a job that allows you the autonomy to run your day more like a business owner, but you get the security of an income for the time being. Or of course, if you're committed to making it work and turning a profit, you could take the leap into a full-blown business.

Find out what it takes.

In today's competitive environment, it's best to talk to people to get some perspective on what it's like to be an entrepreneur. Talk to people you admire in business, and ask them to be your mentor. Attend networking events and ask questions. Sit down with investors and ask what they look for in a business founder. Spend some time in a start-up if you have the chance to see if you can really handle the pace and day-to-day activities of running your own business.

Acquire the tools you need.

If you want to increase your likelihood of success, make sure to use the best tools from the beginning. This means accounting, legal, and financial systems and people to help you lay the right foundations. It also means choosing the right structure and getting advice where it counts. All these things can make a world of difference when starting out, and the investment will pay you back in dividends down the track.

Natalie Sissonis an intrepid entrepreneur who lives out of her suitcase, travelling the world and running a thriving online business. She teaches others how to do the same with a variety of products, programs and free resources through The Suitcase Entrepreneur. Sisson is also member of The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.

 

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