Monday, March 16, 2015

7 Critical Questions Before You Become an Entrepreneur

entrepreneur-questions As a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, the most common question I get is, “I want to be an entrepreneur -- how do I start?” The obvious answer is that you need an idea first, but I’ve come to realize that the process is really much more complex than that. Many people with great ideas never make it as entrepreneurs, and true entrepreneurs can make a business out of anything.

The first myth you have to get past is that having an idea will make you an entrepreneur. In fact, even implementing the idea into a solution doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. According to my definition and Wikipedia, an entrepreneur is someone who builds a new business. Based on my experience, creating the solution is usually the easy part of starting a successful business.

So before you quit your day job, tax all your friends and investors for money, or max out your credit cards to design and build a product, I recommend that you seriously contemplate the following more basic questions:

  1. Are you prepared to adopt the entrepreneur lifestyle? Starting a new business is not a job, but an adventure into the unknown, similar to Columbus setting out to find the New World. It’s a big step into a new lifestyle, like getting married after being single for many years. Yet startup founders are often lonely, since no one else can make their decisions.

  2. How strong is your passion for this opportunity? You have to enjoy working with people -- partners, customers, investors and more -- as well as products to start a business. You have to embrace making decisions and the responsibility of setting milestones, measuring progress and celebrating the victories and defeats.

  3. Are you confident and disciplined in facing tough challenges? Starting a business at home or on the Internet is hard work -- not a get-rich-quick scheme. You will be operating outside of any proven realm, no mentor can give you the answer, and it won’t help to blame anyone else for missteps and environmental changes you can’t predict.

  4. How familiar are you with the contemplated business domain? Remember that the grass always look greener on the other side of the fence. It may make more sense to work for a similar startup before charging ahead on your own. The ultimate best teacher is failure, but a less painful one is getting related work experience and training.

  5. Which business model best suits your mentality? Some people love to deliver services, where personal acumen is tested every day. Others love technology and products, to be replicated and sold while you sleep. If something totally new is not your forte, you can always buy a franchise, acquire an existing business or be a consultant.

  6. Have you mapped out a complete plan? Few entrepreneurs can assimilate and hone a complete plan in their head. That’s why I believe the process of writing down your plan is more valuable than the result. Also, a written plan multiplies your ability to communicate to constituents, and facilitates parallel feedback. Money is not a substitute.

  7. What is your funding situation and alternatives? Fundraising is stressful and difficult, which is why 90 percent of successful entrepreneurs choose bootstrapping (self-funding). Too much money too early kills many startups, according to investors. There are always non-cash alternatives, such as recruiting partners with equity and bartering services.

After asking yourself these questions, and finding yourself still determined to be an entrepreneur, you will have already started. From there, it’s a simple matter of forging a trail to success, and conquering all the problems and challenges that are sure to surface. Starting a business is a marathon, so you have to make an overt decision to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 3/6/2015 ***




  1. I think that being able to celebrate small goals and accomplishments is more important than most people think. It can be hard to see where you fit into the big picture, so this can help you be happy with what you do have. I find that it can be quite rewarding to take a step back and make a list of realistic things you can accomplish, although keep in mind that things change quickly.

  2. Quite informative... mapping out a plan is really important; if you don't, then the business will map you and you end up being a slave of your creation. Thanks for the pointers

  3. The actually first step is to try the idea you have then follow the steps, learn as much as you can to see how to make your idea in to reality.

  4. I am also an entrepreneur from United Arab Emirates and really impressed with this realistic checklist before you start your business. To add up in this list, another most important thing which can lead your business to top heights is presenting how well educated you are in your relevant field of industry and in the tough ever routine, I chose the option of online education in UAE to fulfill this very requirement.

  5. My uncle is thinking about opening a bakery soon. He is under the impression that, since he is a good baker at home, he will do just fine running a bakery. However, I've been trying to tell him that he needs to learn more about business before taking such a big risk. I'll be sure to show him your tips. He could really use a thing or two here.

  6. As an entrepreneur or to become an entrepreneur you need to focus on your personal & technical skills than after on time management. That is the reason most of the students learn or need some kind of dissertation writing help to show their leadership skills