Time to Start a Business – or Not

new venture new business startup

What to ask yourself before starting a company

Before launching a startup, an entrepreneur must ask him or herself the following question: Can I support myself for the next 18-24 months? This is specially important if you’re in your late twenties or early thirties.

It doesn’t matter where support comes from. It could be your parents, your own savings, your partner’s job, or a liquid asset you’re willing to sell at some point. It could even come from your first investor, such as an angel, although very rarely outside investors are willing to pay you a (decent) salary, especially in the early days of a startup. The important thing to remember is that it will take longer than you think before your company is making money to pay you, or an institutional investor joins in with a paycheck.

Don’t expect short-term returns when starting a company

Drawn into the excitement of launching their ventures, entrepreneurs usually underestimate the sacrifices to come. Optimists by nature, they assume that something great is going to happen within a year: a successful pilot or beta launch, an investor, even a first client. Not gonna happen. Success stories about entrepreneurs who dropped out of college or left a job to support themselves on credit card debts are very sexy but incredibly rare. They do however get all the media attention. You won’t read a piece on TechCrunch about the entrepreneur who ran out of steam, shut down his company, broke up with his girlfriend in the process, and had to go back to his parents house.

The concept of time is very different for bootstrapping entrepreneurs and… well, the rest of the world! While you’re bleeding and resources are drying up, potential investors and clients will tell you comfortably: “Come back in six months or when you have more clients”. It’s a brutal catch-22 and it will drive you crazy unless you can’t support yourself and get into real world’s time.

If you’re in the early twenties or otherwise can afford it, screw it, take all risks! Starting a company – successfully or not – will be a great school anyways. If that’s not you, by all means, do also go ahead and pursue your dreams. But make sure you first do some planning on the personal front, soldier.

See also MBA For Entrepreneurs Can Still MatterImage: fotolia.com

Have you ever launched a new venture? How did you support yourself? leave us a comment!

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15 comments

  1. good, honest insights…bill gates dropped out of college (harvard) to launch the predecessor to microsoft…but, guess what? – his father, a prominent attorney, backed the start-up with several hundred thousand dollars…go figure – “the rich get richer”, sound familiar?….then there are the stories of the founders of hersheys chocolate, mcdonalds, etc…you won’t find these stories unless you read biographies or study the “full story” – they all FAILED several times at various ventures BEFORE success could find the light of day…

  2. 1. Consulting – 9 months PT over FT job – used credit cards/lines for cash-flow dips.
    2. Newsletter – used revenues from and while consulting – used credit cards/lines for cash-flow dips.
    3. Environmental product sales – jumped in cold – made a living
    4. Book 1 – sold ads quickly to live
    5. Books 2-6 – sold ads quickly to live, and build an association and website
    6. Real Estate rehab – borrowed money from three sources
    7. Large project development and sales – life expenses paid from SSA

    1. The rest of the comment was:

      You might want to expand this blog entry or make a parts 2-5 to give a full list of “What ask yourself before starting a company” such as one’s aversion to risk, reaction to stress, near-future family needs (time and money), spouse’s income, number of months of savings, sales ability and desire (is SELL a dirty four-letter word?), management experience, interested co-Founders, networking ability, writing, typing, computer skills … you’ll need ’em all.

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