Recently down-sized, company closing, early retirement, tired of making other people rich. Whatever the scenario, those with an entrepreneur mind-set eventually make the decision to start their own business. Some people are young, while others don’t make the transition until their late 50s or early 60s - or even later.

Once the decision is made to move forward with this career change, how do you decide what to do? Sometimes it’s an easy process. Let’s say you’re in your mid-20s, creating great web pages for an employer and love what you do. The only thing is, you realize you’d rather start your own business. It makes sense to continue in that field, and possibly extend your reach to other marketing areas as well. But what if you work in an auto factory that just closed? I doubt you’d find it a good choice to start your own automobile company. Or how about a retired teacher wanting to pursue a desire to be an entrepreneur? With all the opportunities waiting, how do you choose?

List at least three key criteria that this new adventure must meet. There are others, but these three are essential: Passion, Financials and Skills/Abilities. Knowing ahead of time what best fits you, you’ll be more focused as you investigate and consider franchises, business opportunities, licenses, independent businesses, home-based businesses or any other form of entrepreneurship.

The first, Passion, will steer you toward doing something that feeds your values, allows you to serve a purpose and give you something more than money to drive you to succeed. When your daily efforts feed a passion, you will enjoy each day and it will not feel like work. For example, when my husband and I worked through this process, we wanted to create a company that would provide a service that helps people. Keeping that in mind eliminated some options that did not fit our passion.

The second, Financials, is very important. Do you have sufficient capital that will enable you to purchase a high-investment franchise, an existing business that is extremely successful or a high-tech company that owns a large amount of expensive equipment? Or are your funds limited to the point you must focus on low-cost entry to market? On the other hand, you might have some money available, but also other resources that allow you to consider something in the middle. Knowing what funds you’ll have available will help pare down your list. Being realistic is difficult, but there are a plethora of opportunities no matter what your financial situation. Ask others, do some research and be creative!

The third, Skills/Abilities, help you realistically asses what you can do or are able to do. When we started our business, we were in our mid-50s. We knew we didn’t have the strength, stamina or physical fitness we had when younger, so assessing our abilities helped us focus on a business that would not demand a high amount of physical activity. Landscaping and cement work, for example, were out of the picture! Other skills/abilities besides physical should also be considered. Do you have computer skills -- or a desire to learn? If not, you probably won’t want to start a company that requires a great deal of time creating spreadsheets and correspondence. Thinking of starting a bookkeeping service, for example? Obviously, experience and knowledge in accounting will be required.

There are other criteria you might want to add to this list, but these three will get you going in the right direction. Once these decisions are made, you have a good outline of what type of businesses to investigate. You will have eliminated some and discovered others you wouldn’t have initially considered.

There are many ways to find this information. Consult a business broker. Many represent franchises only, but others also work with those who offer business opportunities and business owners wanting to sell an existing business. These professionals will even help you decide what would be a good fit. Are you a customer of a franchise business? Ask the owner for some information. Visit a networking event with the intent to question the entrepreneurs about what they do. Search the internet; it is a great resource to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Narrow down all of your options, first by making sure they align with your three criteria. Then ask a simple question: Do I want to do this? The question may seem to be almost ridiculous, but if you focus only on the criteria, this seemingly obvious question might be left unanswered!

Be honest with yourself, and no matter how inviting something is, if it doesn’t meet your passion, financial position and abilities, plus you honestly cannot see yourself doing this day after day, don’t even consider it!

Making this decision is a life-changing event. Make sure you fill the passion so you can enjoy your next career!

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman is President of Hartman Inventory, a woman-owned business that provides business and home inventory services. She and her husband Mike also own Hartman Inventory Systems, a complete turnkey home inventory business package for those who want to establish their own inventory company. She is also an owner of Business Continuity Planning Specialists, which was created with the small business owners' needs and budgets in mind. Cindy writes a blog and is also a freelance writer on topics of disaster preparedness and recovery, small business, product reviews, marketing and networking.