Entrepreneurial Tightrope: Re-light that fire for business

— -- Hello Gladys, I have my heart set on making a business work. So far I have tried twice and failed. I opened a restaurant and bar 10 years ago and it didn't last longer than two years. A buddy and I started a car detailing business five years ago, and although at first it made money I eventually lost interest in it. I want to find the right fit for me in business and yet I keep procrastinating. How do I re-light the fire? — D.Y.

Your continued desire to be in your own business implies that the fire is still there.

Before you jump into the next business do a little homework. Review your past ventures.

Consider all the reasons why you started each business, the steps you took to enter it and how you operated it. Note what you liked and didn't like about the process.

For example: Why did you start a restaurant and bar? Do you enjoy food and wine? Are you proficient in this area? Did you realize how much work was involved? Were you thinking that owning a bar and restaurant was a cool thing to do without considering the hard work and dedication involved? What string of events led to its demise?

This information will give you a better understanding about you and what your capabilities and expectations are. Sometimes businesses don't make it because of circumstances beyond our control. Other times businesses fail because the owner wasn't thinking clearly or was out of sync with the requirements of owning and operating a business.

I have a relative who started a bar and restaurant because he thought it would increase his popularity. The business lasted about 18 months. Fifteen years have passed since his it closed and he is still paying back the bank for the money he borrowed.

How exactly did the car detail business come about? It's not hard to land in a business that you really aren't interested in, especially if you are in need of emergency income.

Several years ago a man solicited a number of businesses in our building to let him wash and detail our automobiles. I signed on as a regular. Every Friday he picked up my car and returned it looking like brand new. This arrangement went on for almost two years. One day he stopped in to tell me that the coming Friday would be his last day to clean cars.

I told him I was sorry to hear it and I had thought his detail business was doing well. He said it was doing extremely well and he was earning far more than he had dreamed possible. However, one of his customers had offered him a job and he had accepted.

Before starting the detailing business, it turns out, he worked as an engineer for a company that went bankrupt. His startup was a way of making ends meet. He admitted that his company made him more money than he would earn at the position he accepted, but the work was less strenuous and the health and vacation benefits were attractive.

Your reasons for starting a business are just as important as the business itself; make the time to get to know what works for you and why.

Commit to paper your likes and dislikes about being in business and your skills and abilities as well, write down anything that comes to your mind. When you're done, look back over this stream-of-consciousness writing for clues as to why you procrastinate. Once you get to the root of things, you may find yourself blazing a path toward a successful business.

Gladys Edmunds' Entrepreneurial Tightrope column appears Wednesdays. As a single, teen-age mom, Gladys made money doing laundry, cooking dinners for taxi drivers and selling fire extinguishers and Bibles door-to-door. Today, Edmunds, founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh, is a private coach/consultant in business development and author of There's No Business Like Your Own Business, published by Viking. See an index of Edmunds' columns. Her website is www.gladysedmunds.com. You can e-mail her at gladys@gladysedmunds.com.