You want to start a business, and all of the “new year, new you” hype has you thinking that maybe now is the right time. But, how can you know for sure? Is the timing actually good, or is all of the energy surrounding a new calendar year just making you blindly optimistic?
These are complicated questions, and there isn’t one right answer for everybody. Fortunately, some honest self-reflection can help you determine whether starting a business in the new year is a smart move for you.
Stop waiting for the “perfect” time to start
Starting a business is a huge decision, but it’s also one that isn’t necessarily dictated by the calendar.
Comb through any research, and you’ll quickly realise that there isn’t one designated month or day to take the leap. Starting your business in January doesn’t guarantee you any more success than someone who starts in May. There will always be benefits and drawbacks related to your timing.
Of course, certain businesses have seasonality to consider. But, for the most part, there isn’t a clear cut right and wrong time to start a business. And, waiting for the “perfect” time will only mean that you never actually start.
Are you really ready to start a business? 4 questions to ask yourself
Instead, it all comes down to some honest self-reflection to determine whether or not you’re personally ready to strike out on your own. That evaluation can be challenging, so get the process started by asking yourself these four important questions.
1. Have you done your market research?
This isn’t the most exciting task when you’re eager to dive right into your passion, but it’s an important one.
A recent study by CBInsights shows that 42% of new startups fail because there’s no market demand for what they’re offering. This is why it’s crucial to do your research and validate your business idea before jumping in with two feet.
You should be able to confidently answer questions like:
- Who is your target customer?
- What problem does your business solve for them?
- How is your business different from competitors in the same space?
There’s no way to know with certainty that there will be high demand for what you’re offering. But, laying this groundwork at least gives you a reality check when it’s easy to become so energised by your own idea that you ignore harsh truths.
2. Have you prepared financially?
When starting a business, money is usually the biggest hangup. Not only do you have the concern of losing your regular income, but you also need to cover the upfront costs of getting your business off the ground.
Exactly how much it costs to start a business varies widely, but you can limit your starting costs.
Obviously, that number will be much higher if you’re starting a business that requires a lot of overhead—such as a brick and mortar location and employees.
Add to that the oft-repeated warning that a business can take ages to turn a profit, and it’s no wonder that finances are a major barrier to business ownership.
However, it’s important that you take a realistic look at your own financial situation to make sure that you’re not only prepared to cover the costs of starting your business, but also your personal expenses. Many experts advise having enough saved to cover six months to one year of expenses.
Also, remember that leaving traditional employment means losing many benefits you’ve become accustomed to—such as superannuation—that will need to be included in your budget.
3. Have you had honest conversations with your support system?
Business ownership might feel like you’re going it alone, but nobody ever really does. Look behind any business owner, and you’ll see a team of encouragers.
Starting a business requires an investment in not only money but also in your time and your energy. The people in your life need to not only be accepting of that fact but supportive of it.
Your desire to start your own business shouldn’t be something that you spring on your loved ones after you’ve already made the jump. You need to proactively have the hard conversations to hopefully mitigate any future feelings of hurt or resentment, as well as to ensure that you have a network to lean on when the going inevitably gets tough.
4. Are you willing and able to dedicate the majority of your time to your business?
Starting a business is gruelling work, and it’s going to demand a large chunk of your time and attention.
Arguably, getting your own business up and running will require even longer, more strenuous hours. It’s not a small commitment, and you need to be prepared—mentally and emotionally—to sink a lot of yourself into the success of your business.
You might not be in a place where you can realistically do that. Perhaps you have a loved one who’s sick, a baby on the way, or are in the middle of moving to a new city.
If you’re currently dealing with a situation that already places a lot of demands on your time, starting a business right now will only add more stress to your already-overflowing plate.
To start a business or not to start a business
That really is the question. To get some clarity, look back at the above four questions. If you answered “yes” to all of them, then now is as good a time as any to get your own business rolling.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a magic bullet date or month to get started.
It’s all about finding a time when you feel adequately prepared and then closing your eyes and stepping off that cliff. Part of what makes business ownership so terrifying is also what makes it so exciting. Control what you can, and then learn to trust yourself.