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Is This The Year You Decide To Finally Start Your Business?
by Hasheem Francis & Deborah Francis Co-founders of Built To Prosper Companies

Being an entrepreneur takes courage and self discipline. Sometimes it is hard to break out of the traditional way of thinking that we have been taught as children. Nothing can be done without courage, vision and precise decision making habits. Once you make the decision to become an entrepreneur, act on it and have a burning desire to see it through. Will there be obstacles? Absolutely, but just remember that it is for the common good of all when you step out on faith and pursue entrepreneurship.

The great aspect about being an entrepreneur is that when you succeed, other people benefit as well. Many jobs have been created because someone had the courage to be entrepreneur.
Here are some questions to ask before you start your own business:

I. Would my product or services add value to the market? Let us face it: the start-up phase in starting a business is time consuming. You will find yourself questioning whether you have made the right decision, especially when the hours are long and the initial profits (if any) are lean. Starting a company from the ground up is no get rich quick thing. As the business owner, you are also the number one salesperson for your organization. Your enthusiasm for your product or service- whether it is legal services, health products or international business consulting - is often the difference that brings purchasing customers, lands deals and attracts investors. It is unwise to start down the path of entrepreneurship unless you have the zeal that will get you through the rough patches and keep you interested long after the initial enthusiasm of starting a business has faded.

II. What is my IQ (I Quit) Level? Whether it is resigning from your day job or opening a store front office, nothing about starting a business is for the faint of heart. This is not for those who need to be constantly motivated or those looking for a steady paycheck. Business consultant Deborah Black-Francis tells aspiring entrepreneurs that you have to "Take action, and be willing to jump off the cliff and figure out how to fly on the way down." There is no guarantee of success, or even a steady paycheck. If you are risk-averse, entrepreneurship probably is not the right path for you. Stick with your day job.

III. Am I an effective decision maker? No one else is going to make decisions for you when you own your own business. You cannot call mommy. Consider how you might handle these early decisions: Do I incorporate? Do I use a Corporate Tax Id or my Social Security number? Do I use my hard earned savings or get a loan? Do I work from home or do I purchase office space? Do I hire employees? Do I pursue high-end clients or sell to the masses? Do I advertise? Keep in mind that the decision-making process only gets more complicated as time goes on, once you have employees or clients depending on you. The choices you make can lead to success or failure of your business, so you must feel confident in your ability to make the right call.

IV. Am I willing to be The CEO, Manager, & Employee? While a corporate employee focuses on a special skill or role within the larger corporation, a business owner must contribute everything to the business. Startup entrepreneurs in particular must be versatile and play a number of roles, from chief salesperson and bookkeeper to head marketer and bill collector. If juggling many roles does not suit you, entrepreneurship probably will not either. The recent economic downturn has made it more important than ever for business owners to have a good working knowledge of their companies' finances. While you will undoubtedly learn much on this topic from actually doing business, the more knowledge you have in advance, the better prepared you will be.

V. Will I go the distance? Working six days a week, losing touch with friends, abandoning old hobbies and not making time for loved ones can quickly lead to doubts and fears, in the midst of the startup phase of your business.This is what happens to all entrepreneurs across the country. Many first time entrepreneurs says they did not understand the process when they started their first company, they worked as hard as possible, for as long as possible, until their creativity, enthusiasm and energy were sapped. By developing productive habits to maintain a work/life balance, such as not working on a certain day, making time for hobbies such as reading and or attending seminars, and building close ties with other business owners through a faith-based support network can be rewarding for entrepreneurs.

Take some time to seriously answer these questions, do some soul-searching, and then if you think you have what it takes, go for it.