Starting and running your own business requires you to have a wide range of skills. You alone are responsible for everything – from what product you sell, to which market you target, to the people you hire. If you are thinking of starting up a company, consider the following character traits and skills to see if you are ready.
Analyse your personality
You need to ask yourself if you are the right person to start a business. Compile a checklist with the help of the following questions:
- Can you work long hours?
- Can you take criticism?
- Will you be able to cope with financial insecurity?
- If your business struggled in the early stages, would you continue?
- Write down the reasons why you are starting a business
- Do you have the support of your family or friends?
- Do you have confidence in your product or service?
You should also think about areas such as how well you deal with failure, how well you can delegate and take the lead, what sorts of risks you have taken in the past and how strongly you consider that your success will be reliant on outside factors. Be as honest as possible with your answers, as you must try and identify any weaknesses you may have from the start.
Consider your skills
Running a successful business isn’t just about personality though – you need to have certain skills and the ability to learn quickly and adapt. It’s an old clichÃ©, but a small business owner has to wear many hats.
Think about your skills in the following areas:
- Sales and marketing
You will need to assess carefully what you can and can’t do well. If there are skills that you lack, this doesn’t mean you can’t start. Rather, it will show you areas where you can call on professional advisers or advice agencies to help you. This will help you to identify what you are capable of dealing with, areas where you may need to improve your skills and areas you will need to find someone to help you with.
Again, it is useful to prepare checklists. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Have you ever kept accounting books?
- Do you understand the importance of cashflow?
- Do you have a grasp of pricing mechanisms?
- Do you know how to carry out market research?
- Are you good at negotiating?
We asked smallbusiness.co.uk’s members about their experiences of starting a business and many commented on cashflow problems. One of our members, Sally Roche, said: “My main problem was getting paid for work completed. This created a full-time job on top of my one-person band, and became very much a pain in the side of my business.”
Being organised and managing your time is also an important element. You will need to ensure you are disciplined enough to set and meet your own deadlines and be able to prioritise your tasks. Above all, starting and running your own business means being able to balance several competing demands at the same time.