Mind Your Business

My best business idea ever – and, believe me, I’ve had a lot of them – was a great concept. A sure thing, I thought. It would be part store, part salon, part party place for girls only. It had great potential. It wasn’t the first time I’d had a new business idea and then discovered someone else had the same idea at the same time. I’m addicted to thinking up new business ideas, planning out the logo, branding and marketing and then realizing – about three days in – that I just don’t have what it takes to commit to being an entrepreneur. I don’t have the money, the guts to borrow the money or the time to spend every waking moment worrying about my business.

Come to think of it, I also don’t really like selling, nor am I particularly fond of hiring and managing employees. Turns out, thinking up new and clever business ideas isn’t so much a sign of my entrepreneurial prowess as it is a slightly obsessive hobby. Some people knit or go on Facebook. I think up business ideas. The whole incident reminded me that being an entrepreneur is almost never about the business you’re in. So, you like cupcakes. Great. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should open a bakery – unless you like working early in the morning, managing lots of people and figuring out what to do with your leftovers at the end of the day.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t about what you’re selling. It’s about possessing a complementary set of skills that most people don’t have. You have to be good with money, good at managing your time, good at managing people, good at relating to customers and good at marketing and branding. You also have to be willing to live the lifestyle – the hours, the travel, the commitment – required by whatever business you decide to own. If you love cupcakes but don’t have all those other skills, maybe you’d be best off becoming a cupcake decorator and working for someone else.

Too often, would-be entrepreneurs get caught up in the excitement of the idea. They envision their logo, their business card or their store front. They imagine saying the words, “I own my own…” whenever someone asks them what they do for a living. The reality, though, is that while the idea of owning a business sounds glamorous, the day-to-day work involved is anything but. You’ll miss parties and dinners and dates. You’ll miss lots of sleep and even when you could be sleeping, you’ll be lying awake worrying about money or a problem employee. It’s not, as they say, for the faint of heart.