Could you be your own boss?

ARE you tired of working for other people? Why not pick an employer who only has your personal interests at heart, who only does what’s best for you, who will provide you with a continuously widening range of experience so that you’ll never be bored or not want to come to work.

ARE you tired of working for other people? Why not pick an employer who only has your personal interests at heart, who only does what’s best for you, who will provide you with a continuously widening range of experience so that you’ll never be bored or not want to come to work.

Who is this wonderful employer? You are! You could be your own next boss says Start Up expert Brian O’Kane on the website Employ Ireland.

Every year, about 20,000 Irish people – and many recent immigrants – start businesses, ranging for small part-time service businesses to very significant well-funded high-tech shooting stars. The business climate is right – the economy is booming, there are lots of supports for people starting off, and enterprise is in the air. And, for the pessimists among you, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have learnt valuable entrepreneurial skills that a future employer will be keen to have on board.

Have you got what it takes?

So, how do you know whether you’ve got what it takes? Research shows, shows that successful entrepreneurs have:

• Strong needs for control and independence

• Drive and energy

• Self-confidence

• A point of view of money as a measure of performance

• A tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty

• A sense of social responsibility

and that they are good at:

• Problem-solving

• Setting (and achieving) goals and targets

• Calculated risk-taking

• Committing themselves for the long term

• Dealing with failure

• Using feedback

• Taking the initiative

• Seeking personal responsibility

• Tapping and using resources

• Competing against self-imposed standards.

How do you measure on these criteria? Be honest with yourself – but don’t be too hard, no one has all these qualities in full measure.

Or, for a more formal analysis, try the Entrepreneurial Index, a psychological profiling tool especially for entrepreneurs.

However, you do it, you need to conduct a rigorous self-assessment. Ask yourself:

• What skills and experience do you have?

• What training do you need?

• What characteristics do you have that will help (or hinder) you?

• Why do you want to start a business?

Write down the answers – it’s not as easy to fudge uncomfortable answers in writing.

Next steps

Clearly, you need a business idea. You’re on your own here, although some of the City & County Enterprise Boards run Idea Generation workshops.

Then you need to learn how to plan a start-up. Not just write a business plan, which will be necessary, but to do the research that gives you the material to write the business plan and, more importantly, to guide you as you grow your business.

Consider a “Start Your Own Business” course – again, the City & County Enterprise Boards run regular courses, Enterprise Ireland and FAS have a new Enterprise Start initiative, and Oak Tree runs Start Up Boot Camps, packing everything you need to know about starting a business into an intensive one-day learning experience.

Laois Partnership and FAS are currently advertising a new Start Your Own Business programme.

And, you’ll probably find that you need some funding. Again, there’s lots of money available for good projects – in fact, there’s never been more available from more sources. So, if your project doesn’t get the funding you think it needs, you probably need to look hard at it again – back to the business planning, the quality of which is what will make or break your fledgling business.

This time next year

You probably won’t be a millionaire – not unless you’ve been on TV with Chris Tarrant, that is! The reality is that you probably will have earned only a fraction of your current salary, you’ll have significant debts, you’ll be working all the hours God sends you – and you’ll be having the experience of your life! More importantly, as your own boss.