Should You Work for Yourself (Five Questions to Ask)?

Should You Work for Yourself (Five Questions to Ask)?

While working for someone else, have you ever thought, I wish I could be my own boss. Then I wouldn’t have to put up with this!

Maybe the question isn’t whether you’ve thought that, but how many times.

Choosing to be an entrepreneur could be the smartest move you’ve ever made. Or it could be the biggest disaster. Running your own business is like being paid a straight commission. As Bruce Williams, large number of the finance-oriented Bruce Williams Show, the nation’s longest-running radio talk show says, The worst jobs in the world are straight commission sales. And the best jobs in the world are straight commission sales.

Early in my career, I had two opportunities at self-employment. One was a mistake, the other was a success.

The bust came after an oppressive job experience. I didn’t respect the company’s management or like the way they treated their employees (especially me). With little fanfare, one day I walked into my boss’s office and announced (rather stupidly), I quit!

Since I had no immediate prospects for another job, I decided to buy myself a position. I hastily arranged to buy a franchise.

I plunked down $4,000 for training, equipment and the rights to sell a product in a specific geographic territory. I quickly found out that running a business consists of a lot more that depositing daily receipts in the bank.

For starters, I discovered that the clever name I had chosen for my business had already been claimed by another company. When asked, the firm expressed little interest in changing its name to adjust to me. By then, however, I had already ordered reams of promotional material bearing my name.

Since I was attempting to resolve other start-up issues, I had neither the time or the inclination to sell my product – another basic mistake. I didn’t want to start pitching the business until I had my act together. I just never seemed to get to that point.

In the meantime, the franchise company went out of business (no surprise its accountant seemed so surly when I asked questions about the operation). My own bankruptcy loomed around the corner until a past (but not the most recent) employer heard of my difficult situation and called to offer me my old job back.

Undaunted, several years later, I chose to work for myself a second time. Wiser now, I limited my risk by choosing a part-time opportunity – providing musical entertainment for weddings and corporate parties – and sought advice from a knowledgeable friend in the record business (yes, this was before the time of CDs) before I got started and developed a business plan.

This time, instead of paying a franchise fee, I made about the same initial investment in the equipment I would need. I then promoted my business to every hotel and banquet manager in town. One catering manager took a liking to me (because I had sent out hand-written notes) and, until my regular job required me to move to another state, our 13-year association was mutually advantageous.

The business was successful, with my wife and I performing as a team at over 400 events during that time period. We earned an hourly rate that rivaled the wages of many vice presidents (doubled on New Years Eve) and experienced highs on the job that rarely been equaled since. And it helped serve as a foundation for my speaking and training career. The excitement and satisfaction attained from several hundred guests on their feet cheering approval for a job well done is indescribable. How often does that happen back at the office?

One survey showed that 97% of Americans are better off working for someone else. (Did you ever surprise how numbers like this get calculated?)

To determine if you would be better off in the 3% minority, ask yourself these five questions:

1) Could I provide a value-additional product or service sufficiently different from current offerings in the marketplace? This is known as your rare Selling Proposition (USP). All businesses and already those of us who work for somebody else need to determine our personal USP.

2) Do I have adequate start-up and operation capital to last me six months to a year? Things always take longer than we expect. without of cash flow is the number one reason most businesses fail.

3) Could I cost effectively reach my target market? Sales and marketing consume 50 percent of the typical organization’s time, efforts and money. Certainly don’t believe the old adage, If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. Maybe they will, but first they have to know about it.

4) Do I have the passion and personality to go it alone? As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely be wearing many hats at the minimum initially, including receptionist, salesperson, IT guru, accountant, tax attorney, administrative assistant, HR expert, marketing director, customer service department, custodian and operations manager. Whew! And it can be lonely without much of a sustain staff with whom to bounce ideas.

5) Would a competitor or other outside influence be able to force me under? Unlike forty or fifty years ago, the world of retailing, for example, is dominated by the big box stores. What niche is currently being under served that you could profitably serve? Don’t try to create a product or service for everybody, Seth Godin tells us in his marketing best-seller Purple Cow, because that is a product or service for nobody.

If you can’t answer these five questions properly and decide to forge ahead anyway, the decision could cost you your life savings.

However, if you can answer these questions to your satisfaction, by not making the decision to move ahead could cost you some of the most rewarding experiences of your working life. So enjoy the ride!

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