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February 25, 2002
What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur
By Tad Hulse

The thought of going into business has been on your mind for some time now. You feel that running your own business will not only bring forth a sense of independence, but a sense of accomplishment as well. This is true to a certain extent, however, the challenges that lie ahead will be greater than those of any job you've had in the past. You must realize, as the boss, you can take comfort in the fact that you'll never be fired, although there may be days when you'd welcome it nevertheless. The notion of paying yourself a salary plus a portion of the profits, in addition to a return on your capital investment is enticing all the more once your business gets up-and-running and well established. You will, without a doubt, then experience pride in ownership, much to the liking if you owned your own home or car. Last but not least, gratification will surely arise from offering your much-needed product or service, which is quite a valuable status in the market place. The scenario of becoming an entrepreneur sounds dandy, comparatively speaking, but do you have all what it takes?

It has often been said that an entrepreneur is a risk taker. Although true to some extent, entrepreneurs do not see themselves so much as risk-takers, rather than opportunists. You will have to be a self-starter and not dependent on others. For example, when you worked at your "regular job" your boss 'fed you work' and you had to do whatever job you were given even though you hated it. On payday, you got your reward. As an entrepreneur, you'll have to find what you want to do, how to do it and where to find your market. You'll spend more time than you'd ever imagine running your business, but you'll enjoy it better than any job.

The next question you should answer after recognizing that there are two sides to the prospect of establishing your own business is "Am I the type?" Throughout your business' existence, you will be your most important employee. It is more necessary that you rate yourself in a very objective way, unlike you would when interviewing a prospective employee. Appraise your strengths just as much as your weaknesses. As a soon-to-be operator of your own business, acknowledge that you are weak in certain areas and cover the insufficiency by either educating and retraining yourself or hiring someone who has the needed skills. You do not want to spread yourself too thinly, but at the same time, be prepared to learn to things while simultaneously handling numerous tasks if you are the only person you can afford in the start.

As the boss, you will have to be able to adopt new and innovative ideas quickly since they'll be no staff to retrain and no board to persuade. As a small or home-based business, if the idea doesn't work you can drop it just as quickly as you adopted it. The opportunity for flexibility is one of greatest assets in operating a small business. On the other hand, if you do have employees, one of your main priorities is meeting the payroll week after week, despite how good or bad business went. You must always have funds to pay creditors, like wholesalers, furnishers, advertisers, accountants, landlords and/or mortgage holders. Moreover, you must accept sole responsibility for all final decisions. A judgment call gone awry on your part could result in losses not only affecting yourself but also, possibly affecting your employees, creditors, and customers. An entrepreneur of any sort must withstand, alone unfortunately, these adverse situations that may be caused by circumstances beyond your apparent control. Trouncing business setbacks and keeping profits up means long hours, hard work and all-out commitment. It could very well not be the work you desire.

Starting a business of your own, expect to utilize the skills you learned as an employee. Besides what your currently learning, its the only thing you can fall back on. In all, you must manage the daily tasks, like keeping the books, analyzing accounts, long-term planning and expediting. When everyone has left and you've finally caught up on paper work, don't be surprised if you have to sweep the floor and empty the trash on your way out. In the beginning, it's all a part of working for yourself. Literally.

Tad Hulse is an American freelance writer who has covered topics from small business ventures to world travel. Currently he is based in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Email: hulsetad@yahoo.com.

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