This is an important question for anyone thinking about business ownership at any level. In order to get to the answer I recommend asking another one first: “What’s the right business for me, my family and the people I seek to serve?”. Finding the right business will greatly impact your answer to, “Is business ownership right for me?”.
The right business for YOU will be different from anyone else. Even if you’re looking at a turn-key operation like a multi-level marketing system (MLM) or franchise system, your situation is uniquely yours and how you structure your business is up to you. More importantly, what business you choose to start or buy should and can be a reflection of who you really are. I use a model that I call The Anatomy of Success to help get to the answer of “What business is right for me?” Using this model we equate several important principles to parts of the human body (or I guess you could use a dog, cat, bear, lion or whatever animal means something to you!).
Let’s take a little anatomy lesson and then see if you can answer, “What business is right for me?” Beginning at the top: The brain = MINDSET& ASSETS (I guess we could use another part of our anatomy to represent ASSets but it’s where we store them and how we utilize them that matter!!).
Moving on…..Approaching business ownership from the right mindset is critical. Most people starting businesses have years of experience as an employee. Prior to starting their career they went to school which inevitably taught them how to be a good employee (color within the lines, stay in line, don’t ask too many questions, don’t disrupt the class, don’t question your teacher, take this class in order to stay on track and don’t take this class because it’s not in your major).
Moving from employee to entrepreneur mindset begins with the realization that it’s necessary. Start observing and reading about entrepreneurs. Thomas Edison and Walt Disney are two of my favorites. Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki’s Midas Touch is a must read!! Entrepreneurs see life differently. For the truly entrepreneurial, one person’s main complaint or problem becomes their opportunity to create a solution that others will pay them to solve. The concept of risk is totally different. For the entrepreneur it would be far more risky to let someone else be in control of their future, their retirement, their paycheck, and their decisions.
Entrepreneurial mindset has some common attitude characteristics. Business ownership, at any level, isn’t a walk in the park so it’s important to have your head on straight (another important fact in Anatomy 101 is that the human head always looks forward and to the side-never backwards!). Here’s an attitude checklist that you may want to post near your workspace or on your bathroom mirror:
Optimism: Am I approaching work, problems and people with a smile and an attitude of “can do”?
Curiosity: Do I show up in a situation or relationship with certainty and an air of “knowing it all” or am I reminded to remain curious while I learn more?
Perseverance: “ No matter what, I will not fail.” Even if something isn’t easy the strong desire to make it work will drive you through.
Growth oriented: Am I willing to learn and develop or am I afraid to admit that I’m wrong or don’t know? How do I view failure and success? Both are learning opportunities! (For more on this important topic read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck.)
Flexibility: There’s so little that’s written in stone in the entrepreneurial world. Being willing and nimble enough to change course if needed or to listen to an idea that’s not your own can be the difference between make it or break it.
Risk-taker: Actually, how you define and view risk is more important than whether or not you are “risky”. Successful entrepreneurs don’t take risky risks. They use research, their contacts, their gut, their experience to make a good decision. Yes, money and/or time are usually on the line but an educated, well researched risk is vastly different from a “maverick” risk.
Accountability: Who’s responsible? I AM!! Always! Enough said.
Legacy: Are you in this for the long haul? Do you think about what affect you’re having on the future? (With every beat of your heart, you’re changing the future. What choices are you making?)
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of mindset characteristics. What would you add? (As you seek the answer to “What business is right for me?” it’s important to see how you feel you line up with these basic characteristics. If the answer is, “Not well”, it might be an indicator that a job is the better option.)
The brain is also the place where we store and decide how to leverage our ASSETS. A comprehensive list of assets will not only help you now but will be utilized for virtually every decision you make. When starting and growing this list, you might want to be sure to inventory these categories:
Through LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
From formal education
From additional training
From life experience
Skills and talents, especially focusing on strengths (I recommend buying the book Strengths Finder 2.0 and taking the assessment included in the book)
From the brain we move to eyes which represent VISION: It is said that the entrepreneur sees what can be where others only see what is. TRUE. Do you have a vision of what your business can be and do? Here are my 3 rules for creating a strong, impactful vision:
Write it in as much detail as you possibly can.
Write it in first person, present tense using “I am….”, “We are….”, “Today is….”, kind of language.
Don’t be attached to the outcome. Again, stay flexible.
If you can see it, you’ll be able to convince others. If not, you won’t. It’s that simple! (Visioning at this stage is great practice for making future decisions. I use it to make all important decisions in my business!)
Moving down we find the heart (and soul) which symbolizes PURPOSE: If you can’t articulate WHY your business is important, WHY your product or service will change the world (or at least some small part of it for someone), WHY what you do will matter; you should look for a job-NOW. Can I be any clearer? This is truly the heart of the matter. First, YOU ARE/WILL BE the heartbeat of your business. With every beat of your heart you should be reminded of that fact. The concept of purpose around your business will evolve so don’t worry about being able to clearly state your mission now. What’s more important in the decision-making phase is to ask, “What matters….to me, to my family, my potential clients or partners, etc?)
Your answers to this question will drive your decision to start a business. They will also keep your business going over the long haul so it’s well worth the investment of time to investigate “what matters”.
“What matters” is your MOTIVATION. Motivation leads to persistence and overcomes all other obstacles. So, stop right now and make a list of “what matters”. Here are a few tips to get started:
Be inclusive and encompassing.
Ask, “What matters now, has mattered in the past and will continue to matter into the future?”
What doesn’t change (these are your core values)?
What will change once I make this decision? E.g. “What matters” now may be knowing how you will provide for your family in the future. This concern begins to diminish once the decision is made (you still have to make the money though!).
Now, put it all together: Check to be sure that you’re approaching your decision with the right mindset. Do you have the assets you need? Can you see your future as the owner of this business? Does this business fulfill what matters to YOU?
If you can answer Yes, Yes and YES!! , you’re well on your way to business ownership. The right business will satisfy your vision and purpose. Your mindset, vision and purpose will drive your success as you start and grow. BONUS: This same model of The Anatomy of Success, with some additional body part analogies,will be used to build and grow your business. Keep practicing!
About the author
Cincinnati Small Business Igniter
260 Northland Blvd, Suite 114
Cincinnati, OH 45246