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Take the Plunge.Carefully

Should you start a business? Yes! But only after you've knocked out the possibility of instant failure.

There are few things in this life that I regret. Not because I haven't made mistakes--I've made a ton. But from an early age, I decided I'd rather dive into things headfirst than wait around and see what happens. This way, I don't have to regret anything--even when I make a mistake, I can learn from it and move on. I don't ever have to wonder "What if."

I know there are cautious people out there who are squirming in their seats right now. And that's fine. But be aware that a huge part of becoming an entrepreneur means leaving the secure behind--jumping in when you know it would be much safer, much more comfortable, to stick with what you know: receiving a paycheck, depositing it in your account, plodding along in your job for another two weeks and patiently waiting for your next paycheck to roll in. Becoming an entrepreneur is something akin to jumping out of an airplane: You hope your chute opens, and you hope you land with both feet on the ground.but you also find yourself at a loss for words to describe the absolute exhilaration you feel as you sail through the air at 120 miles an hour.

At the same time, there isn't a nonsuicidal soul on this planet who would climb 12,000 feet into the air in an airplane and jump out of a perfectly good plane without planning ahead a bit. The chute needs to be functional, the pack properly attached, the gear in top working order. You don't wear slip-on shoes; you wear sensible shoes that will stay on your feet while you're in the air and allow you to land comfortably. And while you're in the air, you watch the altimeter carefully to make sure you pull the rip cord at the proper altitude. So it is with starting a business: You do everything possible to ensure your "jump" will be successful. At least, you should. I'm all for taking risks, but not ridiculous ones, like posting an e-commerce site and failing to implement any security measures to protect yourself and your customers.

So before you get in your "plane," make sure you're suited up in the proper gear. You don't want to start your free-fall only to discover your chute--and your backup chute--aren't functioning properly. And you certainly want to enjoy the ride.

Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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