Are you ready to start your own business? A lot of people feel they are, but they haven't considered what running their own business will really entail. They are interested in setting their own work hours, not having a boss and having unlimited income potential. These items are the rose-colored glasses of owning your own business.

I'm going to share with you the five reality check questions I ask my fledgling entrepreneur clients.


The first question is about money. Yes, it is kind of true that you need to have money to make money, but you don't need millions. Do you have six months or more of living expenses in a liquid account? Or do you not need your wages to contribute to the household income?

If you answered, "Yes", congratulations. If you answered no, how long would it take for you to accumulate that reserve?

One thing to consider is your current lifestyle. Are there expenses you could eliminate or scale back on which would allow you to save additional money, plus, if you've eliminated the expense, it means you'll need less to live on in the future.

Tick Tock

The second question is about time. Do you have a minimum of 30 uninterrupted hours per week to devote to your business? By uninterrupted, I mean time that you aren't watching a child, doing laundry, running errands or telecommuting to a job.

A lot of people quickly answer yes to this question without really thinking about it, so I recommend that you take a calendar and map out an average week. Be sure to put in everyday things you might take for granted, such as picking up the kids from school, doing household chores and exercising.

These items take up physical space instead of mental space because they're repetitious and so they give you the perception that you have more time than you actually do. Now, how many hours of uninterrupted time do you have?

When does that time fall? If it's between 9 pm and 1 am, you could start an Internet business, but if you're offering a service to people or companies, they will want to do business during standard business hours.

If you find that you have less 30 hours per week, it might not be the right time for you to start a business. A new venture takes a lot of upfront time and energy and it will take longer to build a solid client base if you don't have the time to devote to it.

On the flipside of that, if you're transitioning out of a full time job or know that you will soon have more than 30 hours, set yourself up for success by expecting your business to get started and grow at much slower than the average pace.

La La Land

The third question often surprises people. Does your personal life run relatively smoothly? You are the center of your business. If you are also the center of emotional mayhem in your personal life, it's going to show in your ability to start and run your business. If you're in the middle of a nasty divorce, adopting your first child, moving to another country or have some other intensely emotional taxing event happening in your life, adding the stress of starting a new business could send you straight to the funny farm, and if not there, to business failure.

Get your personal affairs in order then open your business. I coach many of my clients for six months to a year on getting their personal and financial life cleaned up before they get down to opening their business.

One-Ring Circus

The fourth question is: Do you work well by yourself? Not everyone is cut out for working from home alone. If you currently work in an office, ask your boss if you can work from home for a week. See if you like working without outside stimulation or the environment of an office. A day isn't enough. You need to be home for a solid week to see how it feels to be isolated and solely responsible for each minute of your day.

If you find this isn't for you, you can still open a business with a partner or even several or you can rent office space in an executive suite.

A lot of people love working by themselves from home but they determine that they aren't as productive when others aren't around or someone else is setting the deadline. Your level of self-management will impact this element.


The final question is do you manage multiple projects and tasks simultaneously without getting overwhelmed? If you answered yes, that's great, because that's exactly what you're going to need to do daily. You are the provider of the service, the customer service department, the accounting department, the hr department, the marketing department, the administrative department, the technologist-EVERYTHING (unless you have a good amount of startup capital and can hire help right away).

If you answered no to this question, you might be a tradesman or woman who desires autonomy in your work, but who really isn't an entrepreneur. The distinction is that a tradesman or woman wants to do their specialty, such as massage, process improvement, executive coaching, but they don't want to punch a clock or be responsible for all the ancillary duties of owing a business.

If you fall into this category, I recommend one of two things. Buy Michael Gerber's book "The E-Myth Revisited" and see if you want to stretch into the areas necessary to run a successful business or find a company or business that has put the structure in place and pays you as an independent contractor. This arrangement allows you to control when and how much you work without managing the day-to-day.

If you answered yes to all of the questions, then you are ready to go!

(c) 2009 Leah Grant Enterprises LLC.

Author's Bio: 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEB SITE? You may, as long as you include this entire blurb with it: New Business Mentor Leah Grant publishes Startup Success, a weekly enewsletter. If you're thinking about starting a new business or are in the early phases of entrepreneurship, get your FREE New Business Startup Kit including the Secrets of Successful Business Owners audio at