By Del Chatterson
Special to the Financial Independence Hub
Young entrepreneurs seem to get all the attention, but there are also a lot of experienced Baby Boomers who are considering entrepreneurship for the next phase of their career or retirement plan. Are you one of them?
The first important point for you to recognize if you are considering this option is that past success in business or management, or even as a business owner, does not ensure you will succeed in a new business. You need to be smart and humble enough to seek support, advice and market feedback before you start.
I have worked with many entrepreneurs on new business start-ups. My advice is the same for any entrepreneur, young or old, experienced or not: Look before you leap.
Yes, that does mean you have to prepare a Business Plan, but remember, “It’s not about the plan, it’s about the process.” Preparing the document is much less important than the process of strategic analysis and testing the financial consequences for alternative business models and potential operating scenarios.
Start with the basics
My recommendation for going through the process is to start with the basics. First, do you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur? Here is my short checklist of the Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur to consider:
- Energetic, independent, confident, competitive, persistent, action-oriented, decisive.
- Passionate, persuasive communicator.
If you don’t have all these personal characteristics yourself, then you better look for a partner to include in your plans. If any of those characteristics are missing in the leadership team, the business simply cannot succeed.
The second question is whether you and your family are ready for the lifestyle choices that are associated with being a business owner – no longer the regular hours, professional support and infrastructure you may be used to. In your own business you will love the independence and doing things your way, but you may not enjoy being often alone and in unfamiliar territory. If that’s all part of the attraction, you are off to a good start. The key at this stage is to assess whether your personal skills, interests and objectives are consistent with the plans for your new business venture.
Before you launch
If the answer is yes, then you are ready to take a closer look at the Before You Launch Checklist to ensure you have everything you need before you start:
- Skills, knowledge, experience, and contacts relevant to your business plan.
- Expectations and preferences for the entrepreneurial lifestyle – work routine and environment, prestige and compensation, work/life balance.
- Personal strengths and weaknesses that will help, not hurt, the business.
- A healthy foundation – family, physical and financial. Solid not shaky.
- Strategic resources in place – partners, suppliers, facilities, key customers and employees.
- Financing for start-up – including money in the bank to cover the first few months of negative cash flow.
If you can’t put a checkmark with confidence in every one of these boxes, you are not yet ready. You need to accept and analyze the deficiencies, then start to work on filling in the missing elements.
If you have completed these checklists and the light is green for GO (or at least flashing amber for proceed with caution), then you are ready to start on a more complete Business Plan.
Good luck, that also helps.
About the Author:
DEL CHATTERSON is your Uncle Ralph. He is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs to be better and do better. Del is an experienced and successful entrepreneur, executive and consultant. As an entrepreneur, he grew his computer products distribution business from zero to $20 million per year in eight years. His consulting company, DirectTech Solutions, provides strategic advice to business owners at all stages: from start-up through the challenges of managing growth and profitability to exit strategies for management transition and business succession.
An Engineer and MBA, Del has lectured on entrepreneurship and business management at both Concordia and McGill Universities in Montreal. He shares his experience and offers ideas, and inspiration for entrepreneurs under the persona of “Uncle Ralph.’ He has published two books for entrepreneurs: “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans.”
Learn more at LearningEntrepreneurship.com.