Some guidelines to help you decide if this is the time to jumpstart your new venture.
Facebook's IPO will likely spawn a new generation of entrepreneurs. A number of Facebook alums have already invested in their own start-ups, but there are millions more young people who will now look to create the next big thing.
It's an exciting time to be a young entrepreneur, given how easy technology can make running a business. But first you have to ask yourself: Do I have what it takes? Do I really want to start a business? Is now the right time? Is it too risky?
No one can tell you the answer. There's no calculation that can make it a sure bet either way. But here's how I look at it. In my view, there are two types of entrepreneurs: those who come to this vocation by nature; the other by nurture.
A natural entrepreneur is someone who takes risks no matter what, and sees some of them hit really big. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs come to mind. That said, the majority of entrepreneurs are "nurture" types; they are people who take a calculated risk to start a business because they have a particular skill set that enables them to.
If you're a nurture type, you will probably think through your decision to start a company very carefully. The odds may be against you, but you see some reasons a venture may not be too risky, especially if you are young and starting your career.
Here are some reasons to start your entrepreneurial adventure sooner rather than later:
Freedom. People are waiting longer than ever to have kids and get married. Before that life transition, and the accompanying responsibilities and expenses, throw yourself into your business. Make it count by selfishly devoting yourself to your dream.
Passion. The vast majority of entrepreneurs don't go into business to become rich. There are thousands more 10-year successes than overnight successes, so you better enjoy what you're doing. This is a chance to make a career out of something you love.
Jobs. You may start out on your own, but eventually you could be building a place for other people to work and prosper. The more growing new businesses that sprout up, the more job growth we'll see.
Education. You learn the most from failure. If your first entrepreneurial go doesn't work out, you can still work in the area where skills lie. Or, maybe you'll be more prepared a second time around. Building a business takes lots of patience.
Hats off to those who can sell a new app for a billion dollars, but it's more likely going to be a slow climb. I know it was for SurePayroll. No matter what happens, you'll discover great things about business, and yourself, along the way.
MICHAEL ALTER is president of SurePayroll, America’s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University. @michaelalter