“Am I the sort of person to establish a business?” – You should answer this question and others if you are thinking about starting out on your own. It needs more than courage and an idea - it needs a whole lot of know-how and persistence to establish and grow a business. (3)
6 Qualities that you should have when starting a business
Having your own business is like having your own child, particularly in the early stages. You and any helpers you might have are the ones who have to do the work. Good planning is the be all and end all. And if you're on your own it’s you who has to do the work. There’s only one thing for it – get stuck in!
Be prepared to take risks!
Taking risks is necessary and unavoidable if you want to turn your idea into reality. However, willingness to take risks is not the same thing as ill-considered action. As a founder you must have the courage to invest to develop your business for the long term.
Confidence is needed in a number of ways: confidence in yourself, confidence in your idea and confidence in the professional environment. Last but not least, you need to convince investors and other capital providers about the merits of your idea, establish and develop relationships with customers and perhaps recruit staff. You can only succeed in this if you yourself are convincing and exude confidence.
If you launch a rigid and fixed idea, you possibly miss not only the opportunity of developing your idea, but you are creating a barrier to your success. This is particularly relevant for start-ups as it can also often happen that the business idea has to be amended during the formation process or even turned completely upside down.
You should be passionate about your idea. Only someone who is bursting to turn their idea into reality will be satisfied with the business they establish and be effective in the long run.
Setting up on your own is not an easy undertaking. As an entrepreneur you should be ready for set-backs and even failures. This is when resilience is needed.
10 questions which you as an aspiring company founder should therefore answer:
1. Why do I want to set up on my own?
Frustration with where you are working is definitely the wrong motive for starting a business. On the other hand, being convinced of your idea and wanting to pursue your passion is a very good start.
2. Am I flexible and willing to learn?
You can only be successful in the long run if you learn to develop both yourself and your skills and react flexibly to changes.
3. Am I prepared to work more than 40hours per week?
In the initial phase when you are learning the ropes and getting into the job and you probably have no staff or partner in the business, you will certainly have to work a lot more than 40 hours per week.
4. Do I have any capital of my own?
As you will also have to keep your head above water for months with little or no income, a financial buffer quite separate from the start-up capital is essential.
5. Do I have my finances under control? / Am I prepared to economise?
For the sake of being your own boss, are you prepared to skimp if you have almost no income and also to curtail your way of life for several months?
6. Do I have adequate book-keeping skills?
Whether you are a small business or a GmbH: almost every business has to keep a set of books. The exact details depend on the legal form you have chosen and the turnover you are targeting. If you don’t have the corresponding basic knowledge, you should either recruit an in-house book-keeper or outsource the book-keeping.
7. Am I good at time-management?
Many people working for themselves become so fascinated by their work that they lose themselves in their work. Set limits for yourself and set a well-earned finishing time.
8. Do I find it easy to make new contacts?
If you want to be an entrepreneur, you should find it easy to approach people as contacts and relationships are important. In addition, networking will be easy for you.
9. Does my personal environment support me?
To be successful when starting to work for yourself you need the backing, understanding and support of your family and friends.
10. Am I convinced by myself and my work?
You should be truly convinced by your idea. If you are not, your customers will notice this doubt – and force the price downwards or immediately head for the competition.
Obstacles for founders (who are really not founders)
Many people who actually want to work for themselves find reasons and barriers why they should delay taking this step. But you can be equally exposed to risks and barriers if you are working for someone else. The three most popular “excuses” below are the ones that founders who truly want to turn their dream into reality should never contemplate:
“I don’t have the money.”
Many founders are in this situation. They often have no start-up capital. It is not without reason that countless development and support funds are available from a variety of official bodies or initiatives. Universities offer special start-up programmes and the German Agentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) offers start-up grants. There are many support programmes and you can apply for or ask about grants for (almost) all start-up situations. However, a start-up with loan capital is not an option for everyone. In this situation the important thing is to make the best of the available funds and to keep a close watch on all coasts by means of a detailed finance plan. There are alternatives such as boot-strapping or the lean start-up method for founders without significant capital of their own and who do not want to rely on third party capital providers. (Link or explanation at the end)
“I prefer to wait a bit longer”
Why wait? Anyone who is always delaying is probably lacking in the necessary thought processes to be a founder. Anyone always finding a new reason why now is not the right time for a start-up perhaps lacks sufficient courage or sufficient confidence in his idea. You should have sufficient confidence in your abilities and visions and get started before someone beats you to it.
“What happens if I fail?”
Independence and the possibility of failure are inseparable. Starting a business is essentially also about being ready for failure. In the early stages, founders and start-ups are rarely operating in their comfort zone and some thought should be given to this aspect in advance, of course. In the final analysis, mistakes are a means of learning. You must consciously face up to the fear of failing, but you should not let it hold you back.
The road to independence can generate doubt. To some extent certain doubts are justified, for example if you do not have the necessary knowledge (e.g. book-keeping), but such doubts can be easily overcome. You can develop your skills and knowledge by training courses or coaching. However, in many cases fears and doubts are unfounded and are often caused only by the fear of failure. If you succeed in accepting the possibility of failure as the worst case, this factor immediately becomes less terrifying. You must be able to accept set-backs. In the ideal case your business idea must solve a problem: the simpler, the better. Prepare yourself with a business plan so you can convince investors or banks of your idea and radiate self-confidence and confidence in yourself and your idea.
Check-list (PDF file· 144 KB, only in german)