Q I am in my 20s and recently laid off. I have always been interested in opening my own business, but with the state of the economy, I am a little unsure. What are some steps I should consider in beginning a new business venture, or should I wait until the economy turns for the better?
A Ideally, I would advise people to launch a new venture while keeping their day jobs, but you don't have that luxury. The decision to jump in would depend first on the amount of financial risk you are willing or able to take.
If your business requires significant start-up money before receiving any revenue, I'd be very cautious. Spending money to start your business is fun and may take your mind off personal circumstances. But spending money is much easier than earning it: You may find yourself not only unemployed, but broke. On the other hand, if your business does not require a lot of money to get started, you don't have much to lose. I would suggest that you carve out some time to keep looking for a job.
Even in a difficult economy, good business ideas still work. Carefully consider a few factors before spending money. First, is there a market for your idea? Never start a business because you are excited about an idea; you have to have customers who also are excited. Talk to potential customers, competitors and suppliers to determine if there is a need for your business and why customers will buy from you. Secondly, do you possess the personal characteristics common to successful entrepreneurs? Successful entrepreneurs tend to be highly energetic self-starters to whom the word "no" is meaningless. Finally, you need to love what you are doing. The entrepreneurial life can be stressful, lonely and a lot of hard work. Life is too short to go through all of that without passion for what you are doing.
MIKE RYAN, DIRECTOR
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS