By Phil Gibbs on April 24, 2010
Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Nashville. Although the number of venture backed start-ups that make headlines may be down, there are many entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams. Nashville’s support for entrepreneurship is evidenced by the many organizations that provide resources and support for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. Perhaps most notable is the recent launch of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center by the Chamber of Commerce and its Partnership 2010.
So with all the interest in entrepreneurship, how do aspiring entrepreneurs know if they are ready for the plunge? Maybe a stress test for entrepreneurs is appropriate. Here are a few simple questions to ask before starting a new venture:
- Do you have a clear idea of what you want to do and are you committed to sticking to the plan no matter what? If the answer is “yes”, you fail the stress test. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have a clear idea of what you want to do and then you have to be prepared to make adjustments as you implement. That does not mean reacting to every event that occurs, but it does mean learning and adapting. The one thing you can be sure of is that no new venture will look exactly like the business plan that was originally drafted.
- Do you have financial resources to survive while you learn and adapt the plan? The correct answer is of course “yes”. There is no shortage of good ideas. The problem is that most do not work as initially planned. A good entrepreneur, given enough time, is capable of solving the puzzle. Unfortunately, what often happens is the money runs out before success is achieved,
- Are you prepared for rejection, criticism and failure? Again, the answer better be “yes”. Entrepreneurship involves selling–selling the idea to investors, to future employees and, of course, to customers. While you think the idea is brilliant, you will get many more “No’s” than “Yes’s”. Entrepreneurship is heroic until it looks like it may fail, and then people start to question your judgment—why are you putting yourself or your family at risk? The reality is that the odds are not necessarily in your favor.
- Is your idea potentially a billion dollar venture? If you answer “yes”, again you fail. First of all, if you think your idea is likely to create a billion dollar venture, you probably need counseling for grandiose thinking. Sure, we are told to think big and we should. But we also have to be in the real world. Do you know the odds of a new venture turning into a multimillion dollar business, much less a billion dollar business? You have a much better chance of being successful with a small idea, maybe even several small ideas. Only the most experienced entrepreneurs with proven track records are able to secure the resources to run with big ideas.
- Is the pain of NOT DOING the venture greater than the pain of DOING it? The correct answer is “yes”. This is fundamental to basically all decisions we make, but especially true for entrepreneurs. There will be pain in the process. The question is, will there be more pain and regret in not doing it? For many of us, the rewards that come from the adventure and following our dreams outweigh the risks.
OK, how did you do? Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. We all should carefully assess ourselves and our current life situation before taking the plunge. Thankfully, for aspiring entrepreneurs in Nashville, there are many resources to help us assess and to support us in our adventures.
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