Entrepreneurship: Essential Questions to Ask Before You Jump

Entrepreneurship: Essential Questions to Ask Before You Jump

Advice from coach Alexia Van Schaardenburg on meeting your entrepreneurial goals and running a profitable business.

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That’s it. You’re doing it.

Maybe you’ve had enough of sitting at home waiting for the kids or your partner to come home, or taking care of everyone all day. You want to have your own occupation, an income stream. Go back to being a working woman.

Maybe you’re fed up of going through countless jobs interviews, prepping hard for them, sweating in the meeting and waiting for an answer only to get crickets. You feel you may never have a CV “French” enough, the right skills or track record. Maybe you’ve had it with your current job and NOW is the time to change!

 

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Reasons for starting your own business

Starting your own business sounds like the ideal solution. You think to yourself:

  • I will be my own boss. I can do work that I enjoy, as opposed to stuff that my boss wants me to do.
  • I don’t need to speak perfect French—if any French at all.
  • I can have my own flexible schedule, work around the kids’ school time.
  • I can finally share my passion or skills in translating, cupcakes, engineering and become an independent professional (again).
  • If I want, I can work from home, avoid the smelly metro and work in my pyjamas.
  • I can take as much time off as I want, when I want.
  • I can build a business as big as I want it to be, there is no limit.

All this is true, to some extent. But, with all this freedom and flexibility comes a bag of constraints, pressure and reality checks.

Entrepreneurship is not the ultimate solution to being bored at work, being in conflict with your manager or wanting more flexible working hours. Entrepreneurship is HARD.

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Entrepreneurship is no bed of roses

Whatever people tell you, it is not just a wonderful journey, filled with exciting moments where you get to reach your potential 100% of the time or go on holidays to Thailand every school term.

Working for yourself, you may not have the same lifestyle you had when employed and you may not generate any substantial revenues for months (or years). Working from home requires space and organization; you will feel lonely at times.

It’s not a 9-5 job. You are your own boss, but your brain doesn’t necessarily shut down its business side at 5pm or on the weekend, particularly as everything depends on you now.

Your boss will be replaced by your customers, your bank manager, URSAFF (social charges), your own (and others’) expectations of yourself.

You will need to quickly learn new skills or pay for others to do it. So money will be spent before you have any revenues.

woman overwhelmed at work
© Oui/123RFntre

 

Entrepreneurship is not a solution for everyone

You will need to deal with the admin (in French), the finances, customers not paying bills on time, building your offering, finding customers, even the days you don’t feel like it.

You’ll need to determine whether there really is a market (beyond friends and family) for whatever you want to offer. And you may discover that what you love doing doesn’t interest enough people for you to make a living from it. And the list goes on….

You are probably thinking I’m being very negative, and you’re right.

In my office I see women who have chosen the entrepreneurship route because either they didn’t consider the downsides seriously or they believed it would solve whatever problem they had in the corporate world – like burnout, conflict with a manager or lack of recognition.

Now sometimes becoming independent is the perfect solution, but other times, the issue just follows them and they end up burning out even faster or having similar interpersonal issues with their clients or suppliers. And with no safety net.

Entrepreneurship is no bed of roses. And entrepreneurship is not for every situation and everyone. My objective is to help you determine whether it is right for YOU today.

© ximagination/123RF
© ximagination/123RF

Ask yourself these questions before taking the leap:

So before you jump onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon, I have two hard questions for you to ask yourself:

QUESTION: If whatever is currently preventing me from enjoying my current work or finding employment would magically disappear, would I still consider starting my own business?

For example, if you could wake up tomorrow morning speaking French well enough to interview in any job, would you still choose entrepreneurship?

Or, if tomorrow your boss or your job content became much more interesting or less exhausting or working hours more flexible, would you still choose being your own boss?

If NO, it’s an indication that maybe this new venture is an escape from your current unsatisfying context but given an effective solution, you’d rather stay in your current situation.

If YES, then please consider this next and harder question:

QUESTION: What am I losing by starting my own business? What obstacles and constraints will I face, what are the risks? Include financial, logistical but also personal and interpersonal consequences to this change.

I’ve listed some of them above and they will vary for everyone. Try to really consider all possible risks or consequences, even a worst-case scenario.

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Weigh the upsides… and the downsides

I know I’m a party pooper and you weren’t expecting this. And I know you really don’t feel like doing this right now. However, I believe that you can make a true choice only once you are aware of the downsides of each option, on top of the obvious advantages.

“…when reality is way different than our expectations, it can lead to serious disenchantment, not to say depression.”

Because going in without considering any of this is risking travel into the unknown unprepared. And when reality is way different than our expectations, it can lead to serious disenchantment, not to say depression.

So look after yourself, gear up before you jump!

And if after all this, you still think entrepreneurship is for you, if you believe you have something to offer the world, or this is your best option considering all your other constraints, then I wish you much success and an exciting journey. We’ll be rooting for you along the way!

Alexia Van Schaardenburg
Alexia Van Schaardenburg is a professional coach, mentor and trainer, specializing in problem resolution and getting people unstuck. Located in Paris, she works with English and French speaking employees or entrepreneurs who need to resolve a work situation that’s making them miserable. She helps them address difficult emotions, complicated, conflicting or damaging relationships, regain business clarity and overcome specific barriers, to enable them to be free and reach their full potential and performance. To top it off, Alexia is a true European. Born in Brussels, to a Franco-Dutch family, she attended its European School before moving to England for 7 years. She arrived in Paris in 1999 for work and ended up having 2 kids with a Frenchman born in Africa.

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