14 Questions to Ask Before Becoming an Entrepreneur

14 Questions to Ask Before Becoming an Entrepreneur
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Entrepreneurship brings a lot of freedom and responsibility: You set your own hours, rates, and produce the kinds of services or products you're passionate about. You're also likely to have staff who will look up to you, and you'll get a shot at making significant profit. But for all these advantages, there are also risks: businesses failure, damaged relationships and loneliness. So before you commit to becoming an entrepreneur, what questions should you ask yourself?

A. What Am I Willing to Give Up?

Entrepreneurship is glorified in all that you get from it — such as money, recognition and flexibility — but often overlooked is what you'll need to give. What parts of your life are you willing to give up in the meantime? What parts of yourself will you give over to your idea or company? This route isn't merely about what you get: It's far more about what you give. - Sam Davidson, Batch

A. Can I Be Self-Disciplined Enough?

Some people actually need to work for others to stay on task. While you may think you can work without guidance, some have found that they can't get off the couch when left to their own devices. You need to decide if you can work hard without anyone lighting that fire for you. - Murray Newlands, Sighted

A. How Am I Going to Retire?

Be practical, and have a savings plan in place before you try to start your own business. Many businesses fail, but there are ways to protect your retirement savings in the event of bankruptcy, so don't stop investing in your future even when your business is having struggles of its own. You need to be prepared for the worst. - Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

A. Can I Deal With Uncertainty?

Being an entrepreneur, especially in the early days, means that no two days are quite the same. There are tons of varying tasks to do, and the core tasks six months out could be very different from what you are doing when you first start. Some people are better suited to a job where they show up and know exactly what they will be doing every day, which is very different from an entrepreneur's life. - Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile

A. Do I Love What I Do?

The most important question you should ask yourself is: Do you love what you’re doing? If the answer to that is yes, then you can overcome all the hurdles that entrepreneurship throws at you. If you love what you do, the drive that exists in all entrepreneurs will stick with you and push you to excel. If you don’t love what you do, it will make it harder to keep going when challenges arise. - David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

A. Have I Made Realistic Projections?

Before launching, every potential entrepreneur should evaluate if they’ve been realistic in projecting the first one to two years of their startup. It is easy to get swept up in the emotion of starting your own business, but it is imperative to match that emotion with honest evaluation. Answering this question beforehand can prevent some unwanted surprises as you begin growing your company. - Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC

A. Am I Comfortable Delegating?

If the ultimate goal is to grow, you have to be incredibly comfortable handing the reins over to experts when it comes to certain projects. Get comfortable with delegation even at the very beginning. It's a learned habit for some entrepreneurs. - Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

A. Can I Stand Rejection?

One of the most difficult parts of my career as an entrepreneur is the constant rejection. You will get turned down by customers constantly, you will be faced with fierce competition and your self-value will be tested on a daily basis. Ask yourself if you are OK with getting nine "no's" and one "yes," then continuing to try day after day. - Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

A. What Are My Motivations?

Be honest with yourself about what will get you through the tough times. Is your true motivation driving forward the mission of the company? Is it making a lot of money? Is it getting to be your own boss? How comfortable would you feel if you could have one, but not all, of these? Think long and hard about exactly what you need to stay motivated and how likely it is that you'll get it consistently. - Roger Lee, Captain401

A. What Do I Want My Life to Be Like?

It's easy to ride the wave of a cool new idea and start a business based off that adrenaline. I think it's best to take a breather and envision what you want your life to be and feel like. Perhaps you want time to travel for pleasure, to be home with your kids, or to be available for milestones in the life of those you love? Be sure what you design for your company marries well with these goals. - Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

A. Am I Comfortable With Risk?

Risk and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Even if your idea seems relatively low-risk in relationship to the entire ecosystem, there is no such a thing as a risk-free entrepreneurial venture. Make sure you're comfortable with a certain degree of risk present in your life, and do what you can to plan ahead and mitigate those risks as best as possible, knowing they'll always be there. - Matt Hunckler, Powderkeg

A. Am I Ready to Fail Before I Succeed?

Before taking up entrepreneurship, you need to understand how many times you'll probably fail before you succeed. If you’re not ready to take the leap of faith to dive in deep into your new business venture, are you really ready to commit to entrepreneurship? Nothing comes easy, and this is especially true when it comes to the life of an entrepreneur. Be ready and hustle even harder! - Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

A. Do You Have the Financial Backing to do This?

Sure you can leap first and hope for the best, but having a day job allowed me to get our business off the ground and having savings allowed me to keep it going once I quit. Some may get lucky and become a millionaire instantly, but most of the successful entrepreneurs I know had the financial backing to have a very strong start. Most of the unsuccessful were hoping for the best. - Josh Sprague, Orange Mud

A. Is This a Hobby or a Business?

You have to ask yourself the tough question of whether this is a pet project or a serious, sustainable business. You surely love your idea, but is it marketable and financially viable? Many people don’t like dealing with their finances, or they aren’t interested in putting in the time required. I'm a huge advocate of passion, but you need to make sure you can keep the lights on too. - Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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