The right business for you is a combination of opportunity, preparation and resources. It’s more of a discovery than a choice. You will not have the world of all possibilities to choose from, but if you analyze your strengths and weaknesses, you can identify the opportunities that are plausible.
The key to success is to understand what you have an abundance of and what you need more of. We all have a tendency to think we can do more that we actually can. This is why we recommend working with a third party who knows you very well. It will be harder to make claims knowing you are being held accountable.
Have your friend ask you these basic questions to better understand your capacities:
1. Time: How much time are you able to commit to your new venture? Do you have or plan to have children? Are you accustomed to taking vacations and long weekends? Do you have commitments to others, annual family reunions, or a significant other who wants your company on trips? How many days can you commit to working in a year? How many hours a day? Do you have regular appointments, kids to pick up, chores to accomplish and so on?
2. Money: Start-ups eat money. Even though your goal is to attain cash flow quickly, you still should know what your limitations are. What are your savings? What are your credit card limits? What is your credit status? Can you raise private capital? Will your family help? Can you get a loan? Can you trade goods and services in lieu of having to buy them? How long will it take your new business to pay its bills, and can you or others bridge that gap? Now, multiply your anticipated needs by two or more!
3. Skill Set: Education is not just the kind you get in school; it’s also the experience you have attained during your career. What do you excel at? How do you handle stress? Can you do what you do well and delegate the rest to others? Are you experienced at hiring and training? Most businesses come down to personnel management and some form of distribution management. Can you take advice? Are you willing to take a smaller piece of a bigger pie?
4. Connections: Who you know is often more important than what you know. List anyone connected with the business you are considering. Who, from your past, can help you? Take a close look at your contacts, past jobs, and friends.
5. Location: Where are you living now? Are you willing to move? How much and how often are you willing to travel? Some start-ups require a lot of travel. Certain mercantile and service businesses nail you down to one location permanently. Are your ready for that?
Once you can look your friend in the eye and honestly answer these questions, compare them to the opportunities you are considering. Thoroughly research each opportunity to identify what is required initially and in the long run, using your honest evaluation in each of the areas above.
Even if you discover the opportunity is not right for you, going though this process can help you understand the difference between what you want and what you need.