Do you have the aptitude to run your own business?

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When you think about starting your own business, ideas probably come to mind about what products or services you will sell and how much money you will make from it. This is usually the first association and vision of your, at least professional, future. However, starting and running your own business involves a complete change in your lifestyle, not just your job or income level.

In this post, I will introduce you to what I believe are the 3 most important questions you need to ask yourself when you are thinking about starting your own business and actively running it.

First, ask yourself whether you can make risky career decisions, even if the consequences are difficult to predict and you don’t have full information. This is a very important skill, consisting of two elements.

The first element is the ability to create or see options. The idea is to be able to see, in a cool and non-judgmental way, what options we can implement in a given situation. For example, if we have to create an offer for a customer, are we able to create two or three, seeing their advantages and disadvantages for him, but also, most importantly, the consequences for our company. Don’t we try to forcefully make the “best” offer or one that we ourselves would like to buy.

The second element of such decision-making is the ability to act with missing or incomplete data. We were never taught this in school – in math class there was always all the necessary data, and if there wasn’t, the assignment was incorrectly formulated. This is not the case in business – all “tasks” are incorrectly formulated in this regard, and yet you have to go ahead and solve the puzzle by guessing from the context or simply assuming certain values or events. This is a rare skill that characterizes successful entrepreneurs.

Second, think about whether you can organize people’s work and whether you have experienced this in the past in your professional work or activities in your personal life. Having an idea is really not enough. You need to be able to establish the goal you want to achieve when you realize this idea, a plan of action, i.e. specific tasks to be done by you and your colleagues, when they should be done, what resources you need for them, and so on. Once you have this laid out, now the hardest part – you have to assign these tasks to the right people and motivate these people to work. Have you had these situations in the past?

It could have been a situation of organizing a joint trip with friends or a New Year’s Eve party. Or perhaps in your current job you feel that you are comfortable in the role of organizing the work of others? However, I must warn you, because I have experience working in large and small structures, in a large institution and in my own company. In both cases, organizing people’s work looks very different. When you are the head of a department of a larger company, you usually have formal authority (the position of manager) and some company-wide mechanisms (bonus system, periodic evaluations, etc.) that favor you to influence others. However, in a small company, and often even before the company is established, you will have to operate without such formal mechanisms, rely on friendship or family dependence, and combine professional and personal contacts into one relationship. It’s quite a difficult elephant-in-a-china-shop dance – how to maintain good relationships with friends, but achieve your goals.

Third, think about whether you are able to work more than 8 hours a day, including late in the evening or early in the morning. Think especially about this last aspect of work – the unpredictability of time and place. It’s very likely that your workday at your own company will extend around the clock! How is this possible? All it takes is for your office to be in your home (or even worse, in your bedroom), and you’ll never be able to close the door in the afternoon and have free time. Even if you rent an office in the city, you will usually have problems and ideas about the company in your head around the clock. From this, at least at the beginning of the company, you can’t escape.

In this third topic, there is another important issue that I would like to describe to you here so that you think about your attitude to it. This is organizational capability. My former colleague from Training Partners, when we were discussing the possibility of starting a company, asked me: “Olaf, what is your organizational capacity?”. After explaining, it turned out that he meant a mundane but extremely important thing – the ability to drop everything and, for example, go on a trip to a city 300 kilometers away and conduct a meeting or training. If you can’t do that (you have children, a demanding partner or partner, other responsibilities), your organizational ability drops dramatically….

Answer all 3 of the points I raised. These are the pillars of your success.