Are You a Queen Bee or Just a Wannabe?

Do you have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur? Right from the get-go you have got to decide if you're going to be the queen bee or just a wannabe.

That's because one thing is certain in business: There are no guarantees. There are a lot of risks inherent in starting a business. However, you can greatly increase your chances of success with careful preparation and a smart plan.

Most entrepreneurs start out working long, difficult hours with very little pay. They must display extreme self-confidence to handle all the risks inherent in operating their own business. To be successful, entrepreneurs must have the ability to think on their feet and make wise decisions.

Change occurs often when you own your own business, and successful entrepreneurs thrive on these changes and are able to make the business grow. Although they're focused on profits, profits often come second to the drive toward personal success. Certainly though, all successful entrepreneurs have the profit margin in sight and know that their business success is measured by it.

Do you think you fit that description, or would you rather pick up your paycheck and leave the headaches to someone else?

Accept the Possibility of Failure

Once you've decided that you're cut out to start your own business, keep in mind one last thought: More businesses fail than succeed.

According to the U.S. Small Businesses Administration, more than 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first year and more than 95 percent fail within the first five years.

A variety of factories -- a lack of experience, insufficient capital, poor management, excess personal use of business funds -- can contribute to a company's collapse.

None of this should discourage you. On the contrary, acknowledging the risk of failure should serve as a careful reminder to not underestimate the difficulty of starting a business. Success in business is never a given, but if you are patient, willing to work hard, and take all the necessary steps, it can be yours. And a little luck along the way certainly helps

Getting Out of the Gates

The first thing you need to do is assess your strengths and weaknesses as a potential business owner. Evaluate your education, experience and abilities.

Are you motivated? Since you're going to be the employer and employee all in one it will be up to you to organize your time and follow through on details. Some people burn out quickly from carrying all the responsibility for the success of their business on their own shoulders. Running a company can wear you down, and a healthy enthusiasm will help you survive the slowdowns.

Can you plan and organize? Lack of planning is one reason most businesses fail. Thorough planning and careful organization of your finances, assets, staff (even the volunteers!), schedules, and sales strategy will help you avoid many pitfalls.

Do you work well with others? Business owners need to establish successful working relationships with a range of people such as customers, employees, bankers, lawyers, accountants or other professionals. How well will you be able to deal with a moody secretary and a challenging client when your business depends on them?

Do you consider yourself decisive? Small-business owners have to make decisions regularly -- usually independently and sometimes under tremendous pressure. You have to have faith and confidence in yourself, but you also have to have the wisdom to know when to seek advice.

You'll want to use facts and feelings when making decisions. Gather as many facts as possible to determine if your decision is a smart one; then use your feelings to gauge your comfort level in making that decision. Too few facts and high feelings of uncertainty probably mean it's wise stay away of certain changes. But a bit of hesitation can be a good thing -- it causes an adrenaline rush that can motivate you to succeed.

How is your health? Running a company can be exciting, but it's certainly a lot of work. It won't be a nine-to-five gig. You'll often be working six and seven days a week for 12- and 14-hour stretches. The physical and emotional toll can wear you out if you're not accustomed to the stress and sleepless nights.

How will the business affect your family? Starting a business, especially the first few years, can be trying on family life. Financial difficulties could arise until the business becomes profitable, and this could take months or years. In some instances you may have to get used to a lower standard of living in the short-term. Family members must understand what to expect, and you need to be able to have faith that they will support you during hard times.

Since there's a lot to think about before taking the plunge, it's wise to take advantage of some of the exceptional resources available to assist budding entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams. Most of them are free, which is an added bonus.

Visit and to learn about their programs in your community, which can help take you from idea to reality with the coaching and guidance of pros who have been there and done it.

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