Be A Successful Entrepreneur (written December, 2008)

Over the last 28+ years, I’ve talked to thousands of people searching for the “perfect” opportunity to create financial freedom. Unfortunately many of these people make the same mistake of getting hypnotized by the massive incomes made by others, instead of taking the time to carefully review an opportunity to see whether it’s a good fit or not. Since not all opportunities work for everyone, it’s incredibly important to ask yourself the following questions (and answer them honestly) before jumping into any business opportunity.

  1. What’s your passion? The most successful entrepreneurs understand that one of the main keys to creating a profitable business is to follow your passion. In any business, challenges arise and without a true passion for what you’re doing, it’s easy to give up and go to the next opportunity that promises you riches. Loving your business and enjoying the effort you put into it daily will carry you through the rough patches, until you finally achieve the true success you desire. Before investing in any business opportunity, create a list of the things you’re passionate about in life. What type of business would make you jump out of bed in the morning, excited to get to work? What hobbies do you enjoy that would make a great business? What activities, interests or pastimes do you lose yourself in? The answers you get can give you clues to the type of business that will allow you to make money while following your passion.
  1. How much time are you willing to Invest? Many entrepreneurs trade in their full time jobs for businesses that can eat up 70 hours a week or more. The dreams of having “abundant free time” are crushed by the reality of running a business. However some home based businesses can run very successfully in as little as 20 hours a week. Before you invest in any opportunity, have a clear picture of how many hours you wish to work and when you want to work. For example, if you want to start an internet business, you have a lot more flexibility to design your schedule in whatever way you wish. But if you were to start a carpet cleaning company, your schedule would be dictated by the needs of your clients. Make sure you know how many hours you’re willing to invest in your new business venture and then look for opportunities that match your desires.
  1. How much money do you want to make? Many would be entrepreneurs don’t have any idea about how much money they truly want or need to make to reach their goals. In fact many individuals looking at investing in a business opportunity simply have a vague notion of “replacing current income” or “making millions.” To be able to choose the correct opportunity, you need to know the exact amount of money you want to make every year. Having a specific dollar amount in mind lets you sort out those opportunities that simply can’t help you achieve your financial goals, while revealing to you the opportunities that can. For example, if you want to make just $50,000 a year, you’ll find there a lot of opportunities that can help you do just that. But if you want to make $500,999 to $1 million dollars a year, you’ll discover that many opportunities can’t help you achieve those larger goals. Specifically knowing how much money you want to make is a crucial piece of information that you must have before selecting an opportunity.
  1. How much support do you need? While many people believe that those with the entrepreneurial spirit start their businesses from scratch with no help or support, that’s not always the case. In fact many successful entrepreneurs have invested in turn-key business opportunities and franchises and created their millions through these ready-to-go businesses. If you’re someone who wants to create your own business from scratch, you can get all of the advice you need from books, seminars, the internet and networking with other entrepreneurs. However if you’re someone who would appreciate the support and guidance of a team of professionals who will move you toward success, you may discover a turn-key opportunity or franchise suits you better. You probably already know whether or not you feel comfortable starting a business from scratch or finding a more ready-to-go opportunity. Remember, life is fluid. If after building a solid income with a ready made business, you choose to strike out on your own and build a new business from scratch, you can. In many instances, the training, guidance and support you get running a turn-key business can give you the confidence necessary to build your next business from scratch.
  1. Do you want to do the work yourself? Many entrepreneurs create jobs for themselves. They’ll start a website design company and be the designer. Or they’ll start a bakery and be the baker. If that’s why you’re creating your own business, so that you can do what you love, then that’s great. The passion you have for your work can help you create a strong, thriving business. However some entrepreneurs wish to own and run these types of companies doing the “heavy lifting” themselves. They choose instead, to hire website designers or bakers. Their goal is to create and run the business. Before you start any business, you need to decide whether you will do the work or whether you’ll hire others to do it. Many business opportunities, especially home based ones, are set up for you to do the majority of the work, while many franchises are set up so you can hire others to do the work for you, while you manage the business and focus on growing it. Knowing your work preference will give you a clearer picture of the type of business you wish to start.
  1. How much money do you have to invest? One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs making is overextending themselves financially when starting a new business. Starting a new business can be expensive and many people, in their excitement to escape the “rat race” and work for themselves, underestimate the costs involved. Before you start any business, you need to write down a specific amount of money you’re willing to invest to completely open your new business. This gives you the ability to search out businesses that fit your available capital. Instead of finding a business first and going deep into debt on multiple credit cards trying to get it launched, you can set a limit for the amount of money you’re willing to invest and only look at opportunities that can be started for that amount. You can always grow a business as profits roll in. Or as one business grows, you have the ability to start larger, more complex, and more expensive to start businesses. First start out with money that you’re comfortable investing, then use your profits to grow.
  1. How driven are you? I recently heard real estate billionaire Donald Trump speak at a seminar and he said something to the audience that got my attention. He said that while he believed many people in the audience had the drive to be successful entrepreneurs, he was also certain that many people didn’t have the drive necessary to succeed on their own and should just focus on being successful in their careers. I was impressed by this comment, because over the years, I’ve found this to be true. Some people are simply driven to be entrepreneurial. They have the drive, the passion and the fortitude to succeed no matter what. They’re excited about the proposition of creating their own financial freedom and they won’t let anything stand in their way. Others however, have the desire for the ‘riches” and freedom they see other self-employed people enjoying, but they don’t have the drive necessary to achieve these same results. These people continuously chase the dream, without having the drive or desire to put in the work and effort. If you’re someone who doesn’t have that drive, there’s no shame in working for someone else and focusing on maximizing your income at your job. In fact, realizing that fact now can save you valuable time and money you would have invested chasing the dream of self-employment that you might never realize. However if you are someone who has the drive and if you are someone who has a strong, overwhelming desire to be successful, to create true financial freedom and to achieve your dreams, then you’re at the right place.

Use these key questions I’ve given you to decide what you truly want your life to be like and you’ll find it much easier to find a business that can help you reach your ultimate goals.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.