6 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business

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2. Are you able to let other people down?

A founder may set out in a rowboat, but pretty soon, he is piloting a cabin cruiser with investors and employees on board and their families huddled belowdecks. Risking your own fortunes is easy compared with risking the fortunes of those who believe in you. "These people may not completely understand the business," says J. Robert Baum, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. "They may not understand the level of risk. But they think they'll be OK because you are so smart. Breaking their dreams is very painful."