10 clues that it's time to start your own businessNovember 14, 2011: 1:02 PM ET
By Martin Zwilling, contributor
Many budding entrepreneurs struggle mightily with that first step – out of their comfort zone and into the unknown. They keep asking people like me whether the time is right, and the truth is that there's never an ideal time to start your own business. It's like starting a personal relationship, if you wait for exactly the right time, you'll never do it.
I've talked to many experts, and everyone has his own view of the right personal attributes, and the right business conditions to jump in. In my own view, the recovering economy is ripe for new startups, but successful startups are more about the right person, than the right idea or the right climate. So the real challenge is looking inward to check your alignment with these clues:
1. Running a business is a passion you crave. This is a necessary, but not sufficient reason to start a business now. It's not the same as "I want to change the world (volunteer for a good cause)" or "I'm tired of the corporate grind (take a vacation)." It does mean you have a compelling new business idea, and a willingness to face risk.
2. You know what needs to be done, and not afraid to make the decisions. This is the right context for being your own boss. You get great satisfaction from overcoming all obstacles, and you have no problem with living or dying by your own decisions. You have never had a problem putting together a plan and making it happen
3. The opportunity to make real money excites you. You have read all the stories of Google and Apple hitting on a great idea, beating the odds, and being worth millions in just a couple of years. You like the idea that most of the money you make will be yours, not just merged into corporate profits.
4. You believe the economy has tilted the odds in your favor. The recent recession has definitely opened up opportunities for new products, and skilled people at lower costs are abundant. Many of the great entrepreneurs of the past started their companies near business recessions and depressions.
5. You get to set the deadlines, and manage your own priorities. You have always felt that you can do more than expected by current bosses, if allowed to do it on your own schedule with your own milestones. Your self-motivation is more effective for you than any arbitrary rewards and even salary increases.
6. You get to do the interesting things, for a change. First of all, the business you intend to set up is your dream, not someone else's. Within that context, you can delegate or find partners for things that bore you, like marketing, rather than feel that you have been assigned to do the least interesting work.
7. A variety of challenges stretches your abilities to the maximum. If you love to learn new things, and are stimulated by change, you will love the new business environment. Every day is different, from dealing with creative elements, to financial challenges, marketing and sales, and customers of every type.
8. Your office is where you want it. Many entrepreneurs enjoy working from their home, where they are more comfortable, and can interact better with their family. Some like an old eclectic loft downtown, or a local coffee shop to minimize the commute. In these days of global links, you can actually run the business from halfway around the world.
9. What you envision doesn't seem all that hard to you. In fact, the cost of entry into most businesses has come down greatly in the last twenty years. You can now start an e-commerce site for $100, or develop software applications for smart phones for a few thousand. The right reason to start a business is because you have done your homework, and are convinced that you have the skills and knowledge to do it easily.
10. You are really ready for a second career. This is especially applicable to Boomers and anyone who has had a successful career, but now ready for a new challenge, with a little time on their hands. The good part of having your own business is that you don't even have to give up your first job to start the second.
If a few of these reasons are calling your name, now is the time to start building your business. There's no better time, especially if people around you are hesitating due to an apparent fit to my other list. It means you'll be facing a lot less competition. What are you waiting for?
Martin Zwilling is CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals Inc.