6. How long will it take for me to turn a profit?
That depends on how ready you are, and how ready the market is, for your business. If you open for business on your first day and have contacts or, even better, contracts with a former employer, you may be near break-even almost immediately. If you're inventing a new product or have to educate people about their need for what you offer, reaching that break-even point can take years.
To produce income quickly, your number-one job will be to spend your time marketing your business. One of the major mistakes people make is to put up Web sites, send out direct mailings or advertise and then wait to see what happens. As we describe in Getting Business to Come to You (JP Tarcher), your best bet is to have a "5-5-5 plan," which means using five marketing methods, initiating five activities and following through on five things every day. Whenever you're not doing work that produces income, your work is to do things that lead to work that will produce income.
7. How do I stay motivated to do what needs to be done when I don't want to do it?
The first question you need to answer is whether you really want to be in the industry you're in. If you hate most of the work you're doing or simply dislike being self-employed, you need to make some serious changes.
If you truly like most of your work, you have a lot of options. Some people find partners who can do what they themselves dislike doing; however, experience teaches that partnerships formed because one person hates to do something are risky. You may be able to delegate aspects of your work to someone you can hire or barter with. These can be indoor skills, like managing the money, or outside skills, like generating business. Also, consider whether your spouse has the complementary skills necessary to help.
If none of the options involving other business partners appeal to you, motivate yourself by focusing not on your hatred of these tasks but on what you'll gain by getting them done. Break up more odious tasks into smaller pieces and intersperse them with things you like doing.
8. I'd like to be self-employed but don't really consider myself an entrepreneur at heart. Can I make it on my own?
Many self-employed people aren't truly entrepreneurs. They love the work they do or the reason they're self-employed, not the business of business. We've found so many of these individuals that we coined the term "propreneur" to describe them.
Propreneurs still need to learn and practice business skills, particularly how to get business and manage their finances, but they can earn good livings as self-employed individuals. Generally speaking, if you can be a valued and trusted employee for someone else and if you find the business that's just right for you, you can be a good employee for yourself.
9. I want to start my own business, but I'm worried about paying the bills once I get started. I hate my job but need my paycheck. What can I do to protect myself?
Probably the most important thing you can do is to keep income coming in. While some people function best when pressed by a sense of emergency, most of us do best when we have a sense of security.
Sometimes a job you despise becomes bearable once you start your business on a part-time basis-when you know that lackluster, 9-to-5 job can be the route to your freedom. Perhaps you can reduce the hours or days you work, substituting work you love for time on the job you hate. Or consider quitting your job and taking temp or contract work to produce ongoing income while you use the extra hours you free up to build your business.