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Are You Starting a Business for the Right Reasons?

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Unless you have virtually unlimited resources, you can't just wake up one morning and pull a business idea out of a hat and decide to start one. You need to think carefully about the type of business that will be right for you.

If, for example, you're tired of working in a corporate setting, you might say, "I want to start my own business." But it's important to be much more specific. Figure out the answer to these questions: Why do you want to start your own business? What benefit will it bring you? Do you want freedom or do you want more money? Do you crave pride of ownership? Are you trying to get away from a terrible boss?

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There are two basic reasons why people might want to take a new direction: to move toward something new and positive or to steer away from something they dislike. But to be successful you must have a clear view of what's next. Sometimes people turn away from what they don't like but end up in a new place that's no better.

Once you've identified what's driving you, it's possible to begin clarifying the desired outcome. Then instead of aiming to start your own business, you might end up revising your goal to be finding something you enjoy doing so as to run a business working from home three days a week and also spend more time with your family.

Having a bad boss may have precipitated your shift. But maybe that isn't the real reason you're deciding to pursue a change.

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Do some soul searching. Understanding the "why" behind your desires can help you crystallize what you're really going after.

Once I was going through this process with a client and kept asking for more clarification about the desired outcome. She asked, "So you really want me to solve the right problem instead of just the problem I think is most important to me?"

And that about summed it up: People can spend a lot of energy trying to get somewhere. But unless they're careful to analyze where exactly they want to go, they might arrive somewhere they don't want to be.

Say your goal is to quit a corporate job and start a business. The obstacles could be summed up like this: You are the major breadwinner in your household. Your colleagues always tell you how important it is that you work with them because of your unique experience. You are unsure of the focus you want your own business to take.

Once you can clearly see these issues in black and white, instead of feeling threatened or overwhelmed you can make plans for a change. You can then formulate steps to address each obstacle.

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Tackling the obstacles. Identifying obstacles will lead you to information you didn't consciously have. It might highlight ways you have done things in the past that have not worked out or factors you weren't thinking about before.

Rather than feeling like you're making a list of what stops you, you may find this stage of the process very freeing.

It's a language shift. If you simply change the words "my obstacles" to "my areas of focus," this can open up channels for creative thinking on issues within your control or ability to influence.

Obstacles can turn out to be a speed bump in your path rather than a complete blockage. Creating a plan without identifying and taking the obstacles into account is like diving off a boat into shallow water. At best this results in a headache and at worst a hospital visit.

After examining all components of your situation, navigate with more confidence toward what you want. Rewriting the entire scenario as the desired outcome has now become your first step.

As you move forward, you'll can consult your desired outcome to be sure that where you are currently headed includes all the components of what you find most important. Describe the entire picture of what you care about and how your life will look upon reaching your desired outcome.

As you think about making a career change, you might want to consider these additional questions: Why you want to leave the position you are in? What makes you unhappy at the moment? What kind of industry will you enjoy? What's the income you need to sustain the lifestyle you desire? Is having a better family-work life balance important to you? What kind of culture do you thrive in? When do you want to make this move?

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