Should You Start a Business of Your Own?

The decision to start your own business is often a life-changing one.  People go into business for many different reasons, often without giving the move the serious consideration it deserves.  The fact is, if we considered it carefully most of us would not take the plunge.

Whether a business is successful or not depends as much on its owners and their qualities as it does on the business itself or its products and services.  Success cannot be guaranteed, but careful planning and preparation together with a motivated, dedicated and inspirational leader will give a business a good chance of success.

Many small businesses fail in the first few years of starting:  the figure is more than 80 per cent in Australia, and likely to be just as high in Pakistan.  It is amazing that, despite so many businesses failing every day, as many new businesses are ready to start up.  What is it about starting a business that makes people want to give it a go?

Whether a business is successful or not depends as much on its owners and their qualities as it does on the business itself or its products and services

I still recall the feeling of apprehension, the nervousness and the tension of my first day as a self-employed person.  Many questions went through my mind:  Would I be able to pay all the bills?  Would I be successful?  Would I generate enough profit to pay the mortgage and feed the kids?  These sorts of things are the biggest concerns most people have when they start out or even consider owning their own business.

In Pakistan a lot of highly educated and skilled people struggle to find suitable employment and for some a business of their own is often the only option.

Starting a business is a big decision.  It is worth remembering that every business venture involves some risk.  You should not let the momentum of a business idea steamroll you into a decision you may regret.  You need to think carefully about your motivations and objectives before you take the plunge.

Of course in Pakistan starting a business also carries with it a number of unique challenges.  Things that we all take for granted in the developed world can cause major difficulties and issues in the developing world.

Pakistan faces a number of unique challenges that must be considered before starting a business

Everything from dealing with the Tax Authorities, electricity supply, gaining approval from government authorities can be a major challenge and cause frustrations.

In countries like Australia we still complain about Government regulations and in the case of Tax Authorities, their over zealousness and efficiency with which they go about their task, cause us to wonder what and who we are really working for?

That being said, everything moves smoothly in relation to all basic services and government organisations – it is a given and taken for granted.

If Pakistan is to develop a healthy and vibrant SME sector, which is much needed, the basic infrastructure must be improved dramatically, access to capital improved and training and development of the SME sector given a high priority. It is time for action and doing, not just talking about it. I am aware that progress is being made, but I am afraid that  – it may not be fast enough.

What You Need to Ask Yourself BEFORE Starting a Business

We are all different. We have different goals. We also have different levels of motivation. Before you think about starting a business, you need to work out why you want to do it.  If, on the other hand, you have been in business for some time, let’s go back in time and think about why you got into it.  Think about these questions:-

  • What is your motivation?
  • What do you hope to get out of it?
  • What are your personal and financial goals?
  • Are they realistic?
  • What is your fallback position if things don’t work out?

While you ponder these deep and meaningful question, let’s talk a bit more about some of the reasons people commonly give for wanting to start their own businesses.  Perhaps you may be able to relate to some of them.

Why Do People Go into Business?

Some of the reasons people often give for wanting to go into business are:

  • Money – ticket to financial freedom
  • Freedom – personal and professional (no bosses to worry about)
  • Lifestyle – the flexibility to choose their own hours, work from home, that kind of thing
  • Challenge – the hunger to succeed
  • Taking control of their own destiny
  • Community Service
  • Fun and excitement
  • Vision – people often have a vision and a passion for their product, service or idea.

Often their reasons are a combination of the above plus many other variables.  It appears that the reasons people go into business are as many and varied as the businesses themselves.  Finally, once you have considered your motivations, think “Why not? Why shouldn’t I go into business?”

The reasons for not starting a business of your own are often as compelling as those for taking the plunge.  Unfortunately, the true situation only becomes apparent once you are in the thick of it – and quite often there is then no turning back, which is why you need to think carefully about your motivations and reasons beforehand.

Thinking about why you shouldn’t go into business is often as important as thinking about why you should

The real challenge in your own business is to succeed despite the fact that the odds may be stacked against you.  This is why a business of your own is so exciting and challenging. It is not like a normal job – small business is a vocation, a way of life! One that can give you a lot of satisfaction, enjoyment and rewards.

To be successful you need to live and breathe your business (at least initially), that is why it is critical that you go into it for all the right reasons and with your eyes open.

It helps a lot if you have a passion for what it is you are doing or want to do.  It is a lot easier to commit your life to something you have a love and passion for – sure beats working for a living.

Pakistan needs more entrepreneurs to start businesses, create employment and to help in the continued growth of the economy.

The Governments and the community at large all need to help encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship within the country and make it easier to do business.  This needs to be done in tangible ways, and when that starts to happen the benefits for the country will be significant.

Amer Qureshi is a business adviser, leadership expert, trainer, author and chartered accountant. He tweets at @amerq_qct