I’m about to graduate from college and my prospects of finding a job in this economy look grim. I think I’d like to start my own business. How can I find out if I have what it takes?
There’s only one overriding factor that will make or break your choice: Passion. After that, you need doses of seemingly contrary traits. You’ll need to be realistic. You need determination and the clear-eyed vision to persevere. Because whatever your business plan says, it will take longer and cost more than you thought. So be prepared to launch Plans B, C and maybe D. Get advice from professors at your school’s entrepreneurial studies department. Contact a U.S. Small Business Development Center. These public/private partnership programs provide free assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs. Spend time shadowing working entrepreneurs to see what it’s like, preferably in the field you’ve chosen. Your chamber of commerce, SBDC or school employment office can refer appropriate businesses. And don’t forget to brainstorm with peers. More and more young people are launching enterprises. A recent Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation study found that 40 percent of youth ages 8 to 24 would like to start a business or already have done so. Learn more at Kauffman’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Global Entrepreneurship Week portals. If you’re uncomfortable investing time and energy without a guaranteed payoff, then this path probably isn’t for you.
— Joanna L. Krotz