Should I start a business or should I work for a company? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
There are tremendous benefits to becoming an entrepreneur. But it isn't for everyone. To decide whether to launch your own business, you need to take a good hard look not just at the industry you want to conquer, but also at your own skills and psychological makeup.
It's a process I went through. Working in a fiercely competitive field (skin care and beauty products), I knew I could work for one of the huge corporations that control the vast majority of the industry or strike out on my own. I chose to start my own business.
It was absolutely the right call, and I've never looked back. Through more than three decades, I've had the chance to call my own shots. I've seen what it takes to last and succeed. I've also seen fellow entrepreneurs come and go, succeed and fail. Here are some of the most important factors to consider in making your decision.
Passion for learning
To succeed on your own, you have to constantly build and update a reservoir of knowledge. You need to know all the latest developments, technologies, and trends that affect your category and your market. You also need to learn what it takes to run a business, from finances to growth strategies to hiring the best employees or contractors. This process never ends, because new ways of doing business keep emerging.
So being an entrepreneur means signing up for a professional life filled with learning, every day. That's why you need a genuine passion for it. If you view learning new information and skills as drudgery, then entrepreneurship isn't for you.
I love it. I get excited about attending classes and events despite the time commitment. And my willingness to keep getting educated helps keep clients coming back to me. They trust that I'll find an answer to help them.
Motivation beyond money
It takes a great deal of time and energy, and even greater risks, to build a company. The idea of one day running an empire or selling your startup for a huge sum of money generally won't be enough to sustain you through all that work. You need a much deeper sense of purpose.
If you have this, it will serve as crucial fuel. I'm profit-minded enough to make sure my company is financially healthy, but driven more by love for the work itself. It's what gets me going each day.
No matter what field you're considering, whether it be to help businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C), it's only worth starting your own business if your love for it is genuine.
Confidence in building relationships
Part of the irony of going off on your own is that, in many ways, it can require you to be even better at building relationships.
To find the best people to work with in every aspect of your business, from suppliers to expert advisers, you'll have to be confident and comfortable reaching out. I love doing this. Developing real connections with individuals is also a cornerstone in building trust and respect with customers.
The independence of controlling your own professional destiny is a great potential result of starting a business. But it takes a village to get you there.
Fortitude to handle stress
I had a stressful childhood. At a very young age, I had to navigate serious challenges due to my family situation. As a result, I became hyper vigilant. The way cats can see in dim light, I learned to see pathways in situations that may feel dark.
I came out of this experience able to handle stress. I don't cave under it; I look for ways to get where I need to go. The toughness and resilience that I built up early on have benefited me as an entrepreneur.
Ask yourself how good you are at handling stress. Try to think through stressful situations that may arise and how you would react. Speak with business owners about their most stressful times. Make sure you have the courage and fortitude to plow through similar challenges.
Succeeding at your own business will require you to remain steadfast and true to your principles and goals. But there are some ways in which you'll have to bend.
As your category and market evolve, you'll need to tweak your offerings. As new competitors come along, or existing competitors take surprising turns, you'll need to pivot. Even when you have your first successful product or service, you'll need to work on improving it and building your next one. No industry succeeds by staying the same anymore. So make sure you have the humility and persistence to always challenge yourself to do better.
I wouldn't trade this career for any other. The rewards, in business and life, are tremendous. If you think you have these strengths, then go for it. You just may surprise yourself and find that you're even stronger -- and more ready for entrepreneurship -- than you realized.
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