Five Signs You're Ready To Start Your Own Business

If you want to launch your own business, the first thing you need is to start that process.

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By Neil Petch

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It's that simple. If you want to launch your own business, the first thing you need is to start that process. In the words of one of the world's most famous entrepreneurs: "The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing." And Walt Disney knew a thing or two about starting a company.

There are many people out there who are ready to "start doing," so what's stopping them? Often it's lack of finance or simply not knowing enough about running a business. It's also a feeling that the skills you're gaining from your current employment are not sufficient when launching a startup– this is according to a survey by US investment firm Edward Jones. They found that 70% of workers wished their current jobs provided them with more experience that would help them, should they decide to go it alone.

But you can't simply wait around forever. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) spoke to 30 professionals and asked them what they most regretted about their careers. Third on that list was "not starting my own business." In fact, the HBR quotes one Fortune 500 CEO as saying, "My biggest regret is that I'm a "wantrepreneur.' I never got to prove myself by starting something from scratch."

The world is full of these so-called "wantrepreneurs" who always had the urge to start a business but just never felt ready due a combination of fear and self-doubt.

Don't let this be you.

If you genuinely have that desire– get out there and do it. And with that in mind, here are five ways to test if you're ready to make the leap.

1. You can explain your idea succinctly

When discussing the perceived complexities of a particular scientific theory, Albert Einstein is supposed to have remarked to a colleague that a child should be able to understand it. The same is true of your business. In the Good Small Business Guide 2013, this was the first question asked of those starting new companies. If you can explain your idea clearly and with confidence over and over again and see that your audience understands your vision –whether that audience is your grandmother, best friend, business partner or venture capitalist– then you can probably stop reading now, register your business and get things moving.

If you can't, then it might be back to the drawing board, even if just temporarily.

It all comes down to focus– something we have talked about a lot in past articles. An idea that could go in a million directions may have potential, but it can't be considered a business proposition just yet. Think of it like a story: a focused idea that has a clear "beginning, middle and end" is much more likely to get off the ground. Why? Because if you fully understand the workings of your idea, then you also know how to build it, execute it and monetize it. Your entrepreneurial journey may be long and lonely but you will get there if ahead of time you figure out which direction to move in.

Related: Five Traits Of The Successful Entrepreneur

2. You have emotional maturity

Before starting a business, every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves some tough questions, starting with whether they are mature enough to run a business. Be honest. Are you ready to lead? Can you keep your head and steady the ship when things go wrong? Are you ready to be a responsible boss and business partner, potentially accountable for the livelihoods of other people? If you waiver on even one of those questions, then the time is not right.

Business relationships without the support of a raft of colleagues, line managers and corporate bosses can be daunting and you must be 100% sure that you are ready to deal with the challenges and intricacies of those relationships. Age and experience do have a part to play here (more on that in a moment) but this really comes down to emotional maturity. There are some 20-year-olds who you could trust with a Fortune 500 company and some 50-year-olds who couldn't run a lemonade stand. Some people will never have the level of maturity required, some seem to be almost born with it.

In a paper titled Applying Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace, it was noted that "individuals can enjoy a successful career and better relationships by relying on their emotional intelligence." The paper outlined studies that showed those with high levels of emotional intelligence had greater career success as well as the ability to create stronger personal relationships and develop solid leadership skills. They broke it down into four key areas– emotional literacy, emotional fitness, emotional depth and emotional alchemy (our unconscious patterns).

3. You have sufficient experience

Despite the high-profile success stories such as Zuckerberg, Spiegel et al, twenty-something billionaire business owners are rare. In fact, they are almost non-existent when we look at the bigger picture. The vast majority of those who build successful companies have years of experience behind them– as highlighted by a recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report that shows the average American entrepreneur is someone in mid-career. The same report on the UK showed an increase in entrepreneurship for those in their 50s.

This is perfectly logical. Most in the world of business have spent years observing its inner workings– mistakes, wins, and the character traits of those who succeed. This, coupled with the hands-on experience that comes from a decade or so of negotiating, selling, project managing, interviewing, hiring, managing cash flow and so on is what usually gives the older entrepreneur a distinct advantage. Essentially, entrepreneurs who go it alone at a later age have already learned the ropes of running a business while on the payroll– without the stress of keeping the entire enterprise afloat.

Related: The How-To: Engaging Better With Your Team As A Leader

4. You have a history of getting results

Whatever the field –sport, academia, the arts, sales– if you have a long history being the best at what you do, then there's a good chance that trend will continue once you are running your own business. This mindset goes a long way when dealing with the knockbacks that are part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. If you have a history of success behind you, you can use that mentality and self-belief to drive your business to success.

There are plenty of examples of people who have done this– from Mathieu Flamini, the former Arsenal and AC Milan footballer who went on to co-found the company GF Biochemicals that has a potential multi-billion dollar future; to the former ice hockey player Tim Horton who is now best known for his restaurant chain which he sold to Burger King for approximately US$11 billion in 2014.

That said, there are CEOs who have gone it alone and failed miserably. Equally, there are countless stories out there of MBA students who are completely incapable of building their own companies. So it's certainly not an exact science. But if you are one of those who typically sees success in everything you do, then it stands to reason that you have a better shot at entrepreneurship than most.

5. You were entrepreneurial even as a kid

Let's end on this one. Did you set up a stand on the corner selling lemonade, or hawk your trading cards to the highest bidder? There are plenty of early displays of entrepreneurial spirit throughout the business world. Take Warren Buffet, American business magnate and multi-billionaire: At six-years-old, Buffet would buy sticks of gum from his grandfather's store and sell them door-to-door. While not all juvenile candy salesmen always go on to be billionaires, striking a deal and making a sale is addictive.

And if you did it back then, it's likely still with you.

Related: Why Now Is As Good A Time As Ever To Be An Entrepreneur

Neil Petch

Founder and Chairman, Virtugroup

Neil Petch actively assists over 300 entrepreneurs and startups to conceive, plan, and build their businesses on a monthly basis.

After launching Virtuzone as the first private company formation business in the region over 10 years ago, Neil has led the company to set up more than 16,000 businesses, making it the largest, fastest-growing and best-known setup operator in the Middle East.

As the chairman of the holding company, Virtugroup, Neil also leads VirtuVest, an in-house angel investment vehicle; Virtuzone Mainland, a provider of directorship services, corporate sponsorship and facilitator of local Dubai and Abu Dhabi company setups; and Next Generation Equity, a citizenship-by-investment firm. Virtugroup has invested in and supported the growth of multiple companies and delivered passports in over 10 different jurisdictions. Virtugroup also enjoys partnerships with Dubai FDI, the Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Holdings (ARN), VFS, Regus, Etisalat, KPMG, Aramex and Beehive, and has received awards from Arabian Business and Entrepreneur Magazine, among others.

In addition to starting up businesses, Neil has held leadership roles in several companies. He helped establish ITP, the largest media publishing house in the Gulf, which he oversaw growing from two to 600 employees. At ITP, he spearheaded the launch of over 60 digital and print titles, including Time Out, Harper’s Bazaar, Arabian Business, Ahlan and Grazia.

As Managing Director of ENG Media, Neil launched the Coast FM radio station and numerous magazines, including MediaWeek. For the last seven years, Neil has also served as Chairman of GMG, the world’s first interbank financial brokerage based out of Dubai, with offices in DIFC and London. Due to his extensive knowledge and expertise, Neil has been appointed a member of the ‘Ease of Banking’ panel organised by the Chamber of Commerce.

Having lived in over a dozen countries and with a career spanning over 25 years in the UAE, Neil has the ability to merge astute cultural insight with fresh thinking, leveraging his seasoned business acumen, intuition and black book to repeatedly bring ideas to living, breathing success stories.

Neil has appeared in BBC (Dubai Dreams) and ITV (Piers Morgan) features on Dubai, as well as programmes on BBC World and Sky. He has participated as a judge on the radio programme Falcons’ Lair, an entrepreneurship reality show loosely based on the BBC production Dragons’ Den, as well as a similar TV competition hosted by MAD Talks. He now hosts Starting Up on Dubai Eye 103.8FM, the only national weekly show for the startup community in the world’s startup capital.

Neil also lends his in-depth market insight to fellow entrepreneurs and helps cultivate Public Private Partnerships as a Task Force Member of the Advisory Council, a coalition of key decision-makers and prominent movers of the UAE business landscape, led by EMIR and the Ministry of Economy.

He is also a regular speaker, panelist, and economic commentator, specialising in the SME sector.

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