6 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business

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6. When you look in the mirror, does an entrepreneur look back?

If so, and if that's the reason you are starting a company, beware. Many traits -- persistence, creativity, and risk tolerance among them -- are commonly ascribed to entrepreneurs. But having those traits doesn't much improve the odds that you will succeed. "Research into entrepreneurs' personal traits says things like persistence and need for achievement explain only about 5 percent to 10 percent" of the difference between people who start companies and those who don't, according to Baum. "They are less important than external predictors like the spirit of the times, the economy, and changes within an industry.