Let Us Count The Ways

The Other Side of the Coin

Are some businesses doomed before they begin? Probably, if they sprouted from bad seeds. There are some reasons that should make you think twice before you get started, so don't start a business . . .

1. If you have no stomach for risk. The technical term is "risk averse," says Bernel. "If you need safety, security and assurances your business will succeed, hold on to your job and don't even think about starting your own business."

2. If you confuse interest with skill. Just because you're passionate about cars or books doesn't mean you should open an automotive repair business or a bookshop. Interest is only the first step in creating a business. "To be successful, you must go way beyond it and master the process that can launch your business," says Bernel.

3. If you can't deal with confusion or lack of structure. The early stages of business creation can be pretty chaotic. "Every day is different and there is no certainty," says Bernel. "Things seldom go as planned. It takes a chameleon who can deal with constant change to pull a business up by its bootstraps."

4. If you're undercapitalized. It's staggering how many businesses start out with a wing and prayer but not enough money in the bank to last six months, Gatewood says. Undercapitalization is a sure way to put a fast tombstone on all your business fantasies.

5. Just because you're bored. "Boredom often prompts many people to launch businesses," says Gatewood. "That is the wrong reason to start a business. Passion should be fueling your entrepreneurial wheels."

6. Just because you think you've got the most original idea around. That's failed thinking, says Gatewood. It's not impossible to create a unique product or service, but often the best you can do is improve on an existing idea. Don't assume your product is totally new until you've thoroughly scoured the marketplace. Chances are you're in for a rude awakening.

7. Just because your family is pressuring you. Heads of family businesses often push their offspring into businesses of their own. But coercion is the wrong reason to start a business. "Do it because you really want to and you're prepared to dedicate yourself to the task of making it successful," says Gatewood. The motivation to start a business must come from within.

8. Just because you think it will be fun. Fun should never be the sole reason for starting a business, according to Bernel. Yes, parts of the start-up process are enjoyable, but in the beginning, there's more drudgery, angst and uncertainty than fun and games.

9. Just because you don't want to take orders from anyone. You won't be reporting directly to a boss, but you'll be reporting to plenty of other people--vendors, suppliers and possibly investors, not to mention the boss of bosses: your customers.

10. Just because you want to make a lot of money. Not that money isn't important, but money should never be the primary motivator. Successful entrepreneurs will tell you money is just the reward for creating an exceptional product or service, says Bernel. Passion for your product along with the prospect of meeting a market need should be your most critical motivators.

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This article was originally published in the April 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Let Us Count The Ways.

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