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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 08, 2007 • Issue 07:10:01


Is an independent venture for you?

Many people dream of starting up a business. The ventures vary. It could be a restaurant, an Internet retailer or an ISO. But the vision is the same: They want to say farewell to the 9 to 5 workday, the cubicle and the boss.

However, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Going it alone can have many rewards (flexibility in deciding who to work with, freedom to make your own hours) but it also has many costs.

If your goal is to be your own boss, be sure you understand the sacrifices you will have to make in order to see your vision come to fruition. Ask yourself a few key questions to decide if the gamble is worth it.

Be patient in the beginning

First, understand that you will not be rolling in dough and vacationing the month after you hang out your shingle. The irony is that many people start their own businesses to have time for a ''real" life but, in the early years, not many business owners do much more than work.

Is a life of all work and no play for a few years OK with you?

Pinching pennies is a necessity

Spend a few minutes chatting with founders of successful companies and you will find most of them had an additional source of income when they launched their businesses.

If they didn't have an additional source of income, they found ways to stretch their dollars. Some moved in with their parents, others lived on ramen noodles as they maxed out their credit cards.

While you can live in your old bedroom eating dorm room fare, do you want to?

Tread carefully with family and friends

Money is tight when starting a business. As you are searching the couch cushions for extra funding, that loan Aunt Meg mentioned can seem awfully appealing. However, don't let desperation cloud your judgment. When borrowing from friends or family, proceed with caution.

Either party may be tempted to say a written contract and a set schedule for repayment are unnecessary. But in reality, verbal agreements and casual contracts can spell big trouble.

If your business fails, it will be disappointing for you. But, if your family or friendships disintegrate, it could be catastrophic.

Is your dream worth this risk?

Run for coverage

Figure out what to do about benefits before you leave a secure job.

Either fork over money for COBRA (a program for obtaining partial health benefits through your previous employer under federal law guidelines), secure short term medical coverage or find a job that will pay for benefits.

You don't need the added stress of wondering about health costs. Are you willing to take on the health care expenses until your business gets up and running?

You need a support group

Starting a business is tough, and you will need emotional support and encouragement.

There are going to be days when you question your decisions, and a positive attitude is just as important as positive cash flow.

If you have dependents, such as a spouse or children, you will need to make sure they are on board with your decision. Do you have a solid support system?

A business venture is not easy. But, if you have patience, realistic expectations and emotional support, you will have a greater chance of realizing that dream. end of article

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