Of course you're smart. Of course you work hard. You wouldn't be thinking of starting a business if you weren't. Hopefully you also have some street smarts, the ability to sell, and good communication skills.

The good news is, if you don't, you can learn each of them. But there's one key ingredient you can't learn and the underlying decision on starting a business comes down to knowing yourself well enough to answer this one key question: what's your tolerance for risk?

Risk tolerance is kind of like IQ. It's innate. You may want it to be higher, but you are who you are (and being very tolerant for risk isn't necessarily a good personal trait, it's just good for being an entrepreneur).

Right now, you're probably saying to yourself: "I hope my risk tolerance is innately high."

Here's a quiz to help you find out:

1. If you completely fail, end up broke and in debt are you:

  1. Totally fine with that, you can handle it
  2. You get it, can live with it, but know it'll be hard
  3. I have kids, I have a mortgage, it's a problem
  4. Why would I want that?

2. Can you name at least three meaningful occasions in your life when you could choose between a safe path and a riskier path and you chose the riskier path?

3. Are there people you are afraid of disappointing?

4. The following is closest to the truth:

  1. Most of my self worth comes from work
  2. I have a balance of self worth from work and other things (family, friends, faith, community)
  3. I don't need work to define me, it's just how I pay the bills

5. There's nothing else you can imagine doing other than starting this company and working for yourself. Nothing else could possibly be fulfilling or worth your time.

6. People think you're a failure. You:

  1. Couldn't care less
  2. It bothers you a little
  3. Can't have that, it's too embarrassing

7. When you think about your funeral, you want people to say that you were:

  1. A visionary
  2. Someone who was great at their work, and a great parent, friend, sibling, neighbor, person
  3. A really good person

Okay, so here's how you score it.

Q1: (A) 7 pts, (B) 4 pts, (C) 2 pts, (D) 0 pts

Q2: Yes: 7 pts, No: 0 pts

Q3: Yes: 7 pts, No: 0 pts

Q4: (A) 7 pts, (B) 3 pts, (C) 0 pts

Q5: Yes: 7 pts, No: 0 pts

Q6: (A) 7 pts, (B) 4 pts, (C) 0 pts

Q7: (A) 7 pts, (B) 4 pts, (C) 0 pts

49 points: Go start a business today. You'll probably fail, but anything other than trying would make you miserable.

40-49 points: Go start a business, but think it through and make sure you're in love with the idea first.

30-39 points: This could work out, but weigh it extremely carefully against your other options, priorities and ambitions. You might be better off not doing it.

29 points or less: Congratulations, you're not insane. Go find a job you like and enjoy life as a balanced, happy, well rounded person.

Published on: Aug 25, 2016
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