How do I know if I have what it takes to go into business for myself?

Dear M & M: 

I am thinking about going into business for myself. How do I know if I have what it takes?


Dear Donald:

Just as every business is unique to itself each business owner has individual traits. “As a business owner you don’t get to “dip your toe in” the water you’re either in or you are out. The good news is no one is going to make you do any of the work. The bad news is no one is going to make you do any of the work.”-TristartMatrix –Profit Think Tank.

The deep end of the pool isn’t for everyone. You will find yourself wearing different hats everyday all day long. A restaurant owner in Sierra Vista put it to me last week like this, “As a business owner I find myself with one hand on the toilet plunger and the other hand shaking the mayor’s hand. You have to know everything while spinning several plates at once.

“As the TristartMatrix – Profit Think Tank group puts it, key works to think about at this point include; Teamwork, Leadership, Passion, Commitment, Sacrifice, and Persistence. One needs to do a self-assessment. Ask yourself what are you good at? Are you highly skilled in a trade or industry? Maybe you’re really good at coming up with ideas and you are creative.  Maybe you’re good at organizing or a detail orientated type person.

While you’re taking inventory on your strengths take a look at some of your characteristics that might place your business at risk. What are some things you really hate doing? Is there something you know you never will be good at, like planning, greeting customers, doing the books, trying new things? You might be able to outsource or hire someone to take care of some of your weak spots.

Joe Robinson pointed out seven traits of a successful entrepreneur in an article written in Entrepreneur Magazine. These seven traits are as follows. A successful entrepreneur needs to have tenacity, the ability to deal with failure and be able to hang in when things go bad. Successful entrepreneurs are passionate and believe they can change the world. How many times have you heard the term visionary when in discussions of successful entrepreneurs?

They always seemed to be one step ahead or they seemed to see the future before it is played out. Another trait successful entrepreneur seems to have is self-belief or self-confidence. Edison said, “Failure is only if it was the last attempt.” When experimenting on the light bulb he said, “I have not failed; I have found 10,000 things that don’t work.”  A successful entrepreneur knows he or she will be successful, failure isn’t in their vocabulary.

Mr. Robinson also mentioned the tolerance of ambiguity or being able to handle the unknown and the ability to handle fear. All of us can agree that markets and conditions can change rapidly, so the ability to be flexible and handle changes moving in new directions is important. The last trait successful entrepreneurs seem to have is a tendency to “defy conventional wisdom” or be willing to aggressively take risks and break the traditional rules or perceived boundaries that exist in a market.

Summing it up a successful entrepreneur should have the ability to work hard and smart. They should have the ability to lead and be willing to take on new ideas or projects and see them through. Another set of characteristics needed would include having good health, tireless energy, unrelenting persistence, while being flexible with an ability to make good decisions based on changing market conditions.  “Entrepreneurship is spending a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Anonymous

Source: TristartMatrix – Profit Think Tank group is comprised of 27 consultants affiliated with the  U.S. SBDC program which Cochise College SBDC is a part of.


To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email


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