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12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job to Start Your Own Business

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job to Start Your Own Business

If you want to live a passionate life of freedom, quit your job and start your own business. Escaping the limitations of 9–5 is the only way to experience true freedom. But to be sure your transition will be successful, ask yourself these 12 questions before you take the leap.

1. Are you willing to do whatever it takes?

To start your own business you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. Sometimes that’s not fun: it’s inconvenient and you can’t do what you really want to. The willingness to do whatever it takes comes from a deep commitment to your business that all successful entrepreneurs must have.

2. Are you willing to adapt your approach often?

The only way for a business to fail is to stop adapting. If a product doesn’t sell, keep adapting, modifying, changing and improving it until it does. You might change its color, change its price, change who you sell it to or change its stated purpose. You may need to change the product, change the service or change the product into a service. Keep changing until you get it right. Failure only comes when you stop doing this.

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3. Are you focused enough to start your own business?

Focus worked for Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, so it will probably work pretty well for you. There are only two resources you put into creating a business: time and money. Even Warren and Bill have a limited amount of both. So do you. To successfully start your own business, you have to pour all you have into it. Your business needs as much of your resources as you can possibly give it, so pour it all in. Don’t spread your resources among several small things; none of them will get enough of what they need to succeed.

4. Are you willing to give up some things in the short term?

The only time you should give up things that are important to you is when giving them up will allow you to have more of them in the future. This is one of those times. There may be no vacations for a year, or two, or three. There will be way less TV. There will be less time with your kids, friends and family. If you want the increased time and the increased quality of time (which comes from money) in the future, you must give up some of it now. Do it for your future.

5. Are you ready for the most intense psychotherapy you’ve ever undergone?

Aspiring entrepreneurs often believe they will learn about business plans, marketing, accounting and business models. You will, but that will be small compared to the self-discovery process you will go through. You’ll learn about your strengths, weaknesses and everything in between. Starting a business is a very personal process and one that will test your limits and make you realize you had capabilities you never even thought possible. You’ll also probably cry a few times.

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6. Are you able to listen without judging or evaluating?

When you start your own business, you must develop your listening skills to a level beyond what you ever thought was possible. You have to listen to your customers and prospects so closely you can even hear what they don’t say. You need a level of understanding of your customers that you can’t get unless you listen to every word they say and understand their needs and aspirations better than they do.

7. Are you ready to fire your ego?

Your first dirty job as CEO of your own business is to give your ego the pink slip. If you don’t fire your ego, it will be the worst employee on your team. Your ego makes you think you’re right all the time and won’t let you objectively consider all the relevant facts. When you start your own business, you have to be humble and able to consider all information (remember number 6) without feeling threatened by the possibility of being wrong. Ego, pack up your cubicle!

8. Are you ready to accept feedback?

As an entrepreneur, you have to be open and willing to accept the information you receive as feedback. Then you have to take the feedback and use it to make your business, product or service better. You can’t do this if your ego is standing guard — defending you as perfect and all-knowing (good thing you fired it in number 7). You have to be able to accept the feedback and realize that, perhaps nobody wants to buy your little blue widget. However, if you’ve been listening (there’s number 6 again), you’ll know they would buy it at a higher price if you just painted it red and added googly eyes.

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9. Are you confident enough to ignore feedback?

Yes, this is the opposite of number 8. Sorry about that. But as an entrepreneur, you’ll have to confront conflicting information often. While you do have to be willing to accept feedback, you also have to have enough confidence in your vision for your business that you can ignore feedback as well. One person says emphatically the widget must be blue. Another says with equal emphasis that it must be red. They have equal credibility. It’s your company, your vision and you get to decide: you must decide. Confidently make a decision and let your vision for the business guide you. If you make the wrong decision that’s OK. Speaking of that, we probably need to talk about failure.

10. Are you cool with failure?

The media loves failure. They love to see businesses, celebrities and entrepreneurs fall on their face because it makes great news. They’ve convinced us that “failure” is a big, catastrophic event and (worst of all) the end. It’s not. Failing is just part of the process. It’s just another step toward success. The important thing is to never believe that failure is the end. Just get back up and keep going.

11. Are you willing to take full responsibility for whatever happens?

My high-school English teacher would cringe because each of these headings started with “Are you,” but that’s intentional. When you start your own business, you must believe that everything that happens, good or bad, is because of you. Blaming any other person, entity, organization, situation or the weather will doom your business because it takes you off the hook. It gives you someone else to blame, which your ego will temporarily enjoy, but in the longer term it will spell the end of your business. Because by giving away responsibility, you’ve given away your power. Keep your responsibility and keep your power.

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12. Do you care about starting your business more than anything?

You’ll never be able to start your own business unless you care about it a whole bunch. That doesn’t mean there can’t be other things you care about — there should be. But your business has to be up in your top two or three. If it’s not important enough, the daily grind and to-do lists will push your business to the bottom of the heap and you’ll never give it the focus it needs to thrive.

Business plans, market analysis, financial cushion and all that are great, but none of that matters if you can’t say, “Yes!” with ten exclamation points to each of these things. The happiest and most successful people in the world are entrepreneurs and that’s because they have answered a euphoric yes to these questions and created a business and a life they are passionate about.

If you answer no to any of these questions, it doesn’t mean you can’t start a business, it just means you’re not ready. Keep reading, studying, dreaming and hang out with some successful entrepreneurs. You’ll get ready.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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