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Decision dilemma: Shall I set up my own business?

PUBLISHED: 11:11 10 September 2014

Decision advisor Roni Jay

Decision advisor Roni Jay

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Got an idea for a business but aren’t sure whether to take the plunge? Decision advisor Roni Jay looks at the pros and cons

Just because you have a great idea for a business, doesn’t necessarily mean that launching it is the right decision for you. For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that you’ve done your research and drawn up your business plan, and you know the idea is a winner. But do you go for it?

At this stage, lots of people will tell you that you’re mad not to do it. That’s because it’s your life and not theirs they’re making decisions for. But only you will know if it suits you.

For a start, you need to consider the finances. They say it takes three years for a business start-up to become profitable. Clearly there must be exceptions, but it can take a lot longer than you imagine, or your projections suggest. You need to be sure you can afford to live until the money starts coming in.

If you don’t have savings, or a partner who can support you until your business does, there may be other possibilities. Could you start things up – perhaps on a modest scale – in evenings and weekends, without giving up the day job? Or can you go part-time to keep some regular income? Or perhaps you could set up with a partner so you can split the workload and free up time to keep on earning outside the business for a while (obviously when the profits come in, you’ll have to split those too).

Another factor to consider is that when you run a business – depending on what it is – there may be more work than you want. There’s often not a lot you can do about that. If the orders are coming in, you need to fulfil them. The accounts have got to be done, and all the other paperwork. You have to keep working to generate sales or they’ll dry up. If you can dedicate yourself to the business, that’s great. But if you have other commitments, you may struggle.

I had a client with a small business that looked about to take off. Everyone was encouraging her to make it grow. However, she had three children and wanted to be able to pick them up from school, and go to their sports days, and be with them during the holidays. For her, it wasn’t the right thing to put all her time into the business, however exciting and promising it was. In the end she opted to minimise her sales outlets in order to keep work down to a level she was happy with, and review that decision a year later.

If you can see that this business plan is workable, and you have the time for it, and it excites you, then go ahead. Actually though, that can be quite scary, can’t it? Taking the plunge. So why not try a different approach – get in gingerly at the shallow end instead. Take the whole process in small steps, so you could call a halt any time if you wanted: do some research, then pick a name and register it, then get some basic leaflets or letterheads printed, then approach a couple of potential customers… before you know it, you’ll have launched the business without even realising it. Good luck!

Roni Jay is a Devon-based decision consultant anythink.me.uk

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