The Right Business Match


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What is it in your personal background, education, or work experience that will enhance your prospects for success? What management, financial, organizational, and selling skills do you have that can be parlayed into a successful business operation? What is it about your business concept that is uniquely suited to you? What weaknesses or lack of experience do you have that must be overcome before you can be successful in your new business?

Think long and hard, because this is not an easy task; few people can be and are objective about their skills and abilities. Some people gloss over glaring deficiencies in their work ethic and skills; others routinely underestimate the value of their experience. How do you strike a middle ground that will truly help you judge your background as well as personal and professional experiences in such a way that they represent an objective as possible scorecard to use to prepare for your business decision.

In a variety of books and other literature on business start-ups,
writers like to try to describe the prototypical entrepreneur. They use words like bold, independent, creative, visionary, risk-taker, resourceful, adaptable, and a host of other traits—which may or may not be true about any real entrepreneur. More important than such characteristics, when evaluating your ability and willingness to take on a business start-up you need to focus on behavior or skill sets—those bits of learned behavior, from either experience or formal education and training—that will assist you in starting, operating, and profiting from your business.

Consider some of the following skill sets when making a selfevaluation in anticipation of starting a business. More than likely, you will find yourself on one side of each pair or the other:

  • a good generalist, jack-of-all-trades
  • a good specialist, can manage one or two parts of the business very well
  • a doer, likes to be hands-on in all areas
  • a manager, likes to know generally but prefers to delegate
  • an idea person, creative and clever with unusual responses to situations
  • an implementer, can follow the book and manage a process
  • specifically
  • a big-picture person, can plan and see how all the parts fit together
  • a detailer, very good at the specifics
  • a seller, enjoys the challenge of communication and
  • persuasion
  • a handler, works behind the scenes to make sure everything
  • is completed
  • a finance guru, loves the details
  • a finance nerd, hates the details and just wants the conclusion the communicator, can write with ease and speak before a
  • group
  • the reserved individual, hates to write and would rather not
  • speak before a group
  • the planner, good at building and following plans
  • the spontaneous, can go with the flow

Even though you have only one side of a pair, you can match
up with someone else and combine your skill sets. For example,
even if you are not a seller, you can hire someone who is or find a partner who likes nothing better than the challenge of making the difficult sale. The point is to recognize those behaviors you have and those you need—from employees, partners, advisors (lawyer, coach, accountant), or even your spouse.

All entrepreneurs must be problem solvers; if you cannot face
the challenge of solving business and management problems,
almost on a daily basis, you probably should not venture out on
your own. You don’t have to be able to solve everything—but you do need to know where to get the assistance when you can’t deal with something yourself. You may be a decent computer geek, but there will be times when you have to bite the bullet, spend the money, and call in professional help. Being slightly stubborn is a good behavior set, but being stupidly stubborn and unwilling to admit that you need help is another matter entirely.

Realistic Expectations

A recent ten-year study by an international consulting firm revealed that one of the major reasons small businesses fail is that “the business quits before it gives itself sufficient time to succeed.” Many business owners walk into the situation expecting instant success, and when that does not happen they become unhappy, stressed, and dissatisfied. “Expecting an immediate return on any investment is not realistic and makes for an unhappy and unproductive business owner.”

During the course of your self-evaluation, ask yourself if you
are grounded in reality. Can you really understand the complexity and the difficulty of the task you are taking on? Can you grasp, at least reasonably so, the levels of personal and financial risk you are about to take?

Whatever kind of business you plan for, you must go into it with
a sense of urgency and a good deal of self-confidence. Who is going to believe you, invest in you, trust you—become an employee or a vendor—if they are not confident about your commitment and your business skills? Just saying everything will work out doesn’t make it so. Wishing is not doing, and the other stakeholders in your business will look for a leader who is grounded in reality. Vendors and customers do not want to hear pipe dreams or get a sense that somehow the business will run itself. They want to deal with a person who has a vision, but with feet on the ground. Entrepreneurs have confidence in themselves and in their ideas. Most of all, they are willing to invest the time and energy and money to make it all work.


book cover: How to Get a Great Job: A Library How-To HandbookThis article is excerpted from the book The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit:50 Things to Know Before Starting a Business by Paul J. Christopher (2012, Huron Street Press, an imprint ALA Editions).

 Please note that unlike the majority of content on the @ your library website, The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit:50 Things to Know Before Starting a Business is copyrighted material and is not available for reuse under Creative Commons license.



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