Your business is your baby, and much like parenthood, business ownership isn’t for the squeamish. Some entrepreneurs fall into it by surprise. Others plan and strategize, waiting for just the right… moment, opportunity, cash flow, partner, etc. The thing about starting a business is that waiting for the perfect time may mean waiting forever. More often than not, timing doesn’t affect your odds of success as much as doing some serious self-evaluation does.

A new venture requires a great deal of nurturing if it is to grow into a business you’re proud of some day. Before leaping into business ownership, understand and weigh the mental, emotional and financial implications.

Are you ready mentally and emotionally?

Business owners rarely, if ever, walk away at 5 o’clock, leaving work completely behind. Instead, you’ll take your business home with you.

It’s not a bad thing. You’ve chosen to control your own destiny. When you succeed, it will be the result of your dedication. There is satisfaction in that, but there is also a lot of your brainpower involved along the way. Sometimes you’ll be 100% present and other times friends and family might feel you’re “distracted.”

Regardless of the nature of your business, it will require large chunks of your time. If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you’ll eat, breathe and sleep your business. If you and those around you are comfortable with you spending the amount of time it takes to get a company off of the ground, then it’s the right time. Even if others aren’t so sure about your decision, sometimes the belief in your business idea is just too strong to ignore and you’ll have to make the leap anyway.

Are you financially prepared?

Stories of wildly successful entrepreneurs striking it rich with their business ideas are plentiful. It’s possible, and sometimes the best decisions are made when there’s nothing left to lose.

But chances are that you have quite a bit on the line financially. All start-ups require funding. Whether that’s a business loan, venture funding, pooling money from partners and family or a combination thereof, your ability to afford your new baby is always a consideration – a big one.

Are you a credible business owner?

It’s hard to take responsibility for mistakes and missteps. It’s much easier to turn a blind eye and move on. It’s how many companies operate and no one likes doing business with them.

Large corporations can often survive despite this mentality. Small businesses cannot. Your credibility drives ongoing sales. If you’re the type of person whose word is gold, then your business is more likely to attract and retain both loyal customers and employees. People take note when a company goes out of its way to ensure experiences with it are good ones. If you can walk in your employees’ and customers’ shoes, productivity and profitability will take care of themselves.

Visualizing what the future holds

There is safety and security in dealing with absolutes. Entrepreneurs are comfortable with uncertainty. Do you enjoy the thrill of facing the unknown head on? Or does it throw you for a loop? Successful business owners roll with the punches, calculating risks as they surface and changing course as needed.

While you can plan for all kinds of scenarios, you never know for certain what tomorrow or next week has in store. Keep an open mind and you deal with success and failure as they come.

What does success look like? Is it earning enough money to support your family? Hitting a certain annual sales mark or growing your staff to a specific number? Is success becoming a recognized brand across Kansas City or the nation? Every entrepreneur has a definition of success. The key is to have specific benchmarks. Your idea of success can and should change over time, but also acknowledge milestones along the way. Celebrating goals helps build up steam for the next phase of your business.

What does failure look like? And are you equipped emotionally and financially to move forward after a small or epic fail? Entrepreneurs are notorious for not accepting failure, which is necessary trait. If business owners threw in the towel after an idea failed, we wouldn’t have some of the things we love most. However, there is a fine line when it comes to knowing when to push forward or change direction. Be realistic and listen to those whom you trust for guidance.

Have a support system in place

Entrepreneurs have excellent sources of support in Kansas City. Several organizations with experienced business coaches can provide guidance on everything from writing a business plan to spurring and sustaining growth. Plus, a good business coach will tell you when you have an ugly baby.

No, there is never just the perfect moment to start a business. But business ownership is fulfilling because your company is your baby. So many hurdles and triumphs stem from trusting your gut instinct. Many more come in the form of lessons learned. It’s not so much a matter of when the time is right, but how well you are prepared to tackle whatever life throws at you… just like parenthood.

By: Carmen DeHart

About the author: Carmen DeHart is the director of the UMKC Innovation Center Outreach Programs and the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Center. She oversees the center’s business development programs led by a network of experts uniquely qualified to help businesses develop and thrive.

Posted: January 2018