The 12 questions to ask if you have the business gene

The 12 questions to ask if you have the business gene 1024 683 Christopher Bowers

I first published this article back in June and I have received so many feedbacks, which is really encouraging. I am adding few more points to reflect on the questions and comments I had collected from my readers.

I really think there is really such thing called “Entrepreneur Gene”, and most people have that, but you have to ask yourself if you are ready for the challenge and if you are kind of person who wishes to run a business yourself.

Here are some good questions I have collected over the years that are useful to assess if you are “Born to be an Entrepreneur” – hope you find them useful.

Question 1: Your Upbringing Experience

For many entrepreneurs, their parents were / are also business owners; either big or small business owners.

They have observed from their parents how to run a business and more importantly how to be your “own boss”.

However, it is not necessary to repeat what your parents are doing, but to learn the fundamental business basics and principles from your own experience is really valuable.

My friend runs an IT company specializes in web marketing surveys, but his parents had a building materials company, so it was a completely different field, but he leant the value of customer relationship and marketing techniques from his parents.

Many of these lessons include both pros and cons; I remember watching my father able to come home early in many days as he owned a small factory, and able to spend almost every weekends with us; unlike most of my friends’ parents who needed to work overtime and not getting paid very often.

However, as I grew up, I could also see how difficult it can be as a business owner. I recall one day there was a major typhoon, and Dad’s factory was flooded.

He called all his employees from home and asked them for help to remove all the machines from the factory; not even 1 person turned up because they thought the business was gone; and started applying for new jobs immediately.

He spent the next 3 days moving the machines, and subsequently got injured. As he has said, unlike employees where you can be lazy and not responsible for anything and just wait for your paycheck, as a business owner, you do need to have a full responsibility; not just for yourself, but also for your employees and also for your customers.

My experience echoes many entrepreneurs’’ own experiences; on one hand, it is great to make your own decisions, but the responsibilities and uncertainties can deter many to launch their own business.

Question 2: Are you a Responsible Person?

Are you a Responsible person? I know, most people will answer:  “Of Course, I am a responsible person.” But would your customers or your partners say that?

Responsibility also reflects on your works. Many people simply treat job just a job and will spend most of time on their personal activities, while waiting for the paycheck at the end of the week.

You can’t do that if you are your own boss, you simply can’t be irresponsible for your business, either big or small. You can outsource tasks, but you can’t run away from responsibility.

Responsibility is ultimately the deciding factor for a business; if you are not a responsible person, then forget about running a business.

Question 3: Are you a “Status Seeker”?

Are you a status person or a status seeker? Is it important that everyone knows that you are a manager of a big corporation? Do you really care?

Well personally, I don’t care if a person is a manager or not, but you get to meet so many people and ask them what do you do, they reply “I am the manager at big corporate”, as if people really care about that.

If you are a status seeker, than entrepreneurship is probably not a good thing for you.

Although you are your own boss; you could carry many titles, and at a starting phase, it is likely you will just have yourself as the only employee.

It is also likely that you will work long hours from home as well. There will be no one for you to shout around and be a bossy manager.

If you are looking for power and status, please go and find works at big corporations or Government agencies to fulfill these needs.

Question 4: Do you invent new ideas all the time?

We are not talking about inventing a new product or writing a new programming here, but to assess if you are someone that comes up with new ideas continuously?

This can be a new process to improve efficiency, maybe new software you can implement to improve workflows; increase efficiency or new industry that your colleagues at work can use for sales leads.

Some companies and cultures do not appreciate new ideas, whereas others encourage proactive and positive thinking. For inventive people, it is a terrible environment to work in old-fashioned management style companies where their ideas will be buried.

As an entrepreneur, it is good to be inventive, but not “too inventive”, some people tend to be coming up with new ideas every 10 minutes and usually end up in a mess. If you are an “ideas generator”, find a business partner who can help you to select and implement the practical ones.

However, in general, one key factor being a successful entrepreneur is always finding something to improve.

Question 5: Can you handle Flexibility?

As an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as 9am to 5pm; you have to work flexible hours.

This means additional hours at night to plan your business and countless hours for you take on projects; products developments; cash flow management; understand your competitors and finding new sales leads.

When my friends heard about this, he was scared away, he said, he is content just be a manager in a factory; and at least have the weekends off.

But flexibility applies to both work and personal time; I can pick up my children everyday, and able to spend many hours with them; I can take them out to lunch & dinner; and I can take them on holiday without asking my company’s permission.

I always go on vacation outside busy times, I can take a day off whenever I want it, and business is still running even when you are on vacation.

Flexibility also goes beyond time management; you need to resolve issues like customer satisfaction, IT problems, bills and managing your staff and contractors. This is why you are spending so much time at work.

Question 6: Do you have Strong Emotional Capital

EQ is more important than IQ in this case.

You need to have high threshold; not someone gives up after you get one compliant from a customer.

Most people give up on their path in becoming successful entrepreneur because they give up too quickly; and want to go back to their comfort zone.

Being your own boss, you have no one but yourself to turn to, you can’t say “I will ask my boss” as an excuse anymore; you need to have strong emotional capital and able to withstand criticisms and face realities and problems; and able to solve them yourself.

IQ will not help you in this case, patience & able to withstand stress will. You can see if you are a determined person quite easily from your own personal achievements, such as sports, academics, relationships and health.

Question 7: Can you change and quit?

Are you the type of person that is able to adapt, and willing to make changes? Or are you the type of person that has to plan and set a perfect path?

Sometimes this can be evidenced when you were a student; there are students that need to rely on their teachers to give them practice exams for instance; others are able to be more self-motivated and able to study at their own pace.

I often noticed students who had been through couching or tutoring system tend to do well at high-schools but failed at universities due to lack of plans set for them. It is the same for the business.

It takes 3 attempts to become a successful entrepreneur, and willingness to change plus some creativity is a must-have formula.

Learn to quit is a good personality to have as a business owner, this means big and small decisions like advertising, product strategy or simply quit the whole business and do something else.

Question 8: Can you multi-task?

This is one skill you can not afford to miss, being an entrepreneur, you need to be able to multi-task all the time.

I can see that from my Task List, there is no one day I will have less than 20 tasks in my diary; which is significantly more than when I was working for someone else.

Running your own business is an entirely different game, the sooner you can finish your tasks, the quicker you can move onto next revenue generating business.

I must admit I can only occasionally accomplish all the tasks – on good days, I can accomplish 80% of the tasks set for the day.

Over time, you will start to learn how to manage your schedule by outsourcing as much as non-essential tasks to others, like your assistants or virtual assistants.

Multi-tasking is not an ability that everyone has, so ask yourself if you can multi-task first before you start your own business.

Question 9: Do you have an International Sense

Never set up a business and think small, aim for the bigger stage, aim for bigger markets.

As I was originally from Australia, I do have a lot of Australian readers. Australia is a big country but with tiny population, it is very hard for many businesses to flourish there simply due to the lack of consumers.

For Australian businesses, they had to think international markets before their local markets, which is quite a contrast to American businesses. For example, I know 2 Australian franchises; which had considered international markets first, so they opened up their stores in US and Europe before they opened their first store in Australia.

In this e-commerce age, you can also utilize Internet to expand your business opportunities globally, if I can set up an international business from just one computer; you can do it too.

I think a “global sense” or international awareness is important for entrepreneurs these days; the importance is far greater in this globalized market.

Question 10: Are you Highly Analytical

This is one factor that many entrepreneurs lack of initially but this can be improved quickly. As a business owner, you need to be responsive to the latest changes in the industry or from competitors.

First, you must realize there is no business that has no competitors; you will always be fighting with other competitors one way or another.

Second, you must be analytical and able to find niche opportunities or customers segments that are under-serviced by your competitors. Analytical skill is not a skill that you were born with; it’s a skill that can be trained through regularly researching into news, information and forming decisions and strategies.

Question 11: Do you have Good Financial Skills

You don’t need to be an accountant to run a business, but you must have very good financial skills. You must be able to understand profit & loss well so that you can make the right decisions.

An easy way to assess yourself is to do a honest assessment on yourself. Someone with a bad personal financial skill is often a poor business owner.

Can you answer yourself how much you have in your bank account straightaway, do you know your personal asset-debt ration immediately? Do you set budgets and do you know how much you spend every month?

These are the financial skills you require when you start running your business.

Question 12: What is your “real” passion

This is probably the hardest question to ask. What do you like to do the best? I know a friend who loves breads, he dropped out from high school and just focused in becoming a baker, he started his own bakery at the age of 17, and is now one of the world’s most renowned Chefs.

For most of us, we don’t even know what we want do for our career, so we keep changing our career, and just switching from one industry to another industry. We are often led to believe that we should pursue what we have studied at College or University; but as new technologies emerge, new industries will also emerge, industries will also be gone; and your skills will no longer be relevant.

This is fine when you are young, as you can go and pick up another skill and find a new industry; but a terrible mistake once you are into 40’s as you will end up with some skills but nothing specialized.

I made this mistake myself by changing 7 jobs across 5 industries over 12 years before I really found my own passion; which is Internet Marketing, writing and research; which is when I launched my business so that I could use my passion into a business opportunity.

I know this sounds like a cliché, but really ask yourself what you are passionate about, it can be completely irrelevant to your current job, and that is perfectly fine.

Once you identify that – launch your own business – you can always change your business; but you will never lose the job by being a business owner.

I hope you find these 12 questions relevant, especially for those at career cross-roads or those simply looking for a way out and wish to get into a new business.