How do I know if I'm cut out to run my own business?


It sounds like fun to start a company, but I don't know if I can actually do it.

How do you know if you can or if you're ready?

Getting Started Doubt

asked Oct 8 '09 at 05:35
16,231 points

6 Answers


In my experience, if you're asking the question you're "ready enough."

With everyone's first company, you don't know anything and you're going in blind. You figure it out as you go. You read blogs and books to help avoid the "obvious" pitfalls, but even so you end up making half of those mistakes yourself.

So go ahead, and good luck, and don't forget to come back here when you have more questions!

answered Oct 8 '09 at 05:41
16,231 points


My advice: be optimistic yet careful. Why don't you start by doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on yourself?

Also, I really liked this comment in a book I reviewed recently:
"Before you even consider opening your own business, it's very important that you understand the value of knowing how to make a sale. If you cannot sell, do not go into business." (Bill Dieruf, The Successful Management of Independent Business, page 63)

Other tips? Take a close look at your finances (do you have enough capital? What would you do if you had to go several months or even a year without an income?) and start to develop a business plan, even if it is somewhat informal. The dean of McMaster's business school, said a few years back that until you can visualize every aspect of your business - not just the cool or fun parts - then you are not really ready to get started.

There is a lot of information available online to help you, sites like ours (, Fast Company, Inc. and others. Also, you might enjoy an article I wrote a few years ago: Should I Start My Own Company?

answered Oct 10 '09 at 06:46
Julie King
871 points
  • +1, great detail! – Jason 15 years ago


Doing your own gig is a life style. You really have to love what you do and be willing to do it for free. Since I have done this a couple of times before, I decided to blog a little test. See here for the link.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 10:42
Jarie Bolander
91 points
  • Why does "doing your own business" also mean "do it for free?" As a freelancer you could start earning money on immediately and slowly build up "real" clients too. Free for a while, yes, but there's lots of paths that generate some income quickly, no? – Jason 15 years ago
  • They key word is "willing." Nobody says you have to do it for free forever, but you have to be willing to do so if the need arises. Basically it proves you are dedicated to see the business through no matter the (monetary) cost. – Joe 14 years ago


You know you can and are ready as soon as you start spending some meaningful time thinking and executing your idea/business. As soon as you start going to bed at 3AM in the morning after working in your "little" project. If you are not willing to do that, or are not doing it already, then starting a business is probably not for you.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 13:26
4,815 points


When someone asks me that question I turn it around and ask them, "Why do you want to start a business?". There has to be a driving force from inside of you that wants to make a marked change in the life you are leading.

There appear to be two things that you need to ask oneself:

  1. Am I passionate about what I am going to be doing?
  2. Does it play to my personal strengths?

I wrote a popular post on doing what you love that may of some interest in the context to this conversation.

answered Oct 11 '09 at 20:07
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points


Keep your full time job and start something on the site and see if you like it. For me, I started doing contract on the side 10 years ago. At first it was one job every 2-3 months over time the jobs got bigger and closer together. About 3 years ago I went to do a four day work week (32 hours of work) about 2 years ago I went contract full time. Now I am looking at switching from contract to products.

My lesson is that things did not happen overnight, but if you keep it at things will work out.

From personal experience is that being self employed

  • You work more hours
  • You have more stress
  • Clients are just as annoying as manager if not more so a client signs your pay check a manager usually doesn't
  • You have additional overhead such as looking for jobs, invoicing, file taxes etc. The big advantages
  • I can take any day off and do not have to get somebody's ok to take a day off
  • Every hour I work I get paid for (no overtime for no pay) I would say that a good full time job at a cool company would beat contract work. Not sure if it would be better than selling your own product which I am sure come with its own challenges
  • answered Oct 12 '09 at 04:39
    John Soer
    596 points

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