Exploring Business Ownership – So You Think You Want to Be in Business? (Part 1 of 7)

This series is dedicated to helping “wannabe” business owners determine whether they’re a good candidate to venture forth into the world of business ownership.

Many times those who have been laid off or downsized, or are in danger of that happening soon, begin to actively think about business ownership. Typically, they’re tired of the uncertainly of their present position, or simply have that entrepreneurial itch and are considering striking out on their own. This may describe your situation and you might be wondering whether it’s best to continue in the employment world or if it’s time to take the plunge.

So, how do you test the waters to know if you have the risk tolerance, level of motivation, and personal attributes necessary to succeed in the business world? Read on.

So You Think You Want to be in Business

Maybe you’re tired of working for “the man” and you want your own “gig”. Or you might have a great idea that you’re sure will work. Or maybe you want to build wealth by starting and building a business to sell at a tidy profit. Or maybe you dream of creating a “gentleman farmer” lifestyle where you simply hire someone to work hard in your business, while you collect an owner’s check at a retirement resort in another state (or country). There are many reasons people start or buy businesses. Most of them have a root in the dissatisfaction with their current situation.

What Kind of People Do Well in Business?

Conventional wisdom says you have to be a “sales type” to be successful. However, Bill Gates is the world’s most famous geek, is definitely not the sales type, and didn’t even finish his undergraduate degree at Harvard, yet few would argue with his success.

While there are some traits that serve owners better than others, in my experience nearly any personality type or style can be successful in business. Rather than focusing on whether someone is outgoing, the basic ingredients I find important to a candidate’s success are a clear understanding of what they want to achieve, a high level of self-motivation, the willingness to ask for help, and the ability to change when business conditions or market needs require it.

Typically, natural sales-types are not good at detail, yet successful businesses must deliver everything promised, when it was promised. So the challenge for the sales-type is to recognize that details are important in running a business and they must have a “dot the ‘i’, cross the ‘t'” person filling these functions.

Likewise, those who see themselves as “geeks” are great at detail, but are not comfortable with the self-promotion and personal contact necessary to create prospects and generate sales. So, the challenge for the geek business owner is to recognize the importance of the sales function and ensure a sales type is in it.

So, it’s far more important to recognize that a successful business requires all personality types working together than it is for the owner to posses a particular personality style.

Everyone wants to be successful in business! In part 2 we’ll discuss what your definition of success should be.

Business Ownership – Finding the Right Business for You

Do you have the net worth you desire?

Do you have the flexibility and freedom to do the things you love? Family time, travel, charitable interests, sports, hobbies, etc.?

Do you enjoy getting up every morning and starting your day?

If the answer to any of these is no, ask yourself “why not?” Could it be time to find a new job or career? Should you get another job? Should you open or purchase an independent business or franchise?

The options are many, but where do you begin?

Most career decisions are based on emotions. Once chosen, you try to fit your life into that career. Wouldn’t it make more sense to fit your career into your life?

Many things play on our emotions when considering a career change: the level of prestige your career may bring; the name of the company or business; the income potential; love for the product; perhaps it’s related to a hobby. We call this an “outside-in” approach to finding a career.

Some perceive fast food restaurants as good businesses to own. Everyone wants to “own” a McDonalds, but no one ever wants to “buy” one. The busier the business, the more money they must be making.

Emotions prevent most individuals from seeing the “cost” of ownership. Fast food restaurants are certainly good businesses to own, for some people. But, owning a restaurant isn’t right for everyone.

To determine what is right for you, you must first determine what you want your life to look like and what you want your career to do for you. Determine your goals, needs and expectations and then look for a business or career that will help you achieve your goals. You must set aside your emotions and base your decision on facts.

Are you happiest when in charge or when working as part of a team? Do you enjoy dealing with people or would you rather work by yourself? Do you like diversity during the day, lots of activities or do you prefer predictability and consistency throughout the day? Would you want something to build, grow and pass to your children or to build equity for future sale? Where do you want to be in five years? Are you looking for security, financial independence or a place to put in eight hours, collect a paycheck and go home? We call this the “inside-out” approach to selecting a career or business.

After discovering yourself you might ask, “now that I know all these things about myself, how do I know if I should go find a different job or open a business? And if I decide on business ownership, which business will meet my goals, needs and expectations?”

Most people know what it means to be employed; however, most do not know what it means to own a business. Before taking that next job, you owe it to yourself to research all your options. How?

Use the “inside-out” approach to look behind the fa├žade of businesses and learn what it means to live and breathe the business everyday. By talking with current business owners you can discover what the return on your investment will be, what the actual initial investment will be, or how many hours a day it will take to run the business, etc. This can be a daunting task with the number of businesses available today.

The biggest obstacle to exploring business ownership is an individual’s ability to keep an open mind. Many individuals dismiss a business based on the name or perceived product or service. So, you don’t want to open a residential or commercial cleaning business. Why?

Obviously, you don’t want to clean someone else’s toilets, right? You need to stop viewing a business as “a job” and start thinking of it as a “business” where you are the OWNER. You shouldn’t be the individual cleaning the toilets; you should be creating jobs in the community for others to clean toilets.

If all you want to do is clean toilets, why would you buy the business, just go work for someone else. If you want to increase your net worth, hire people to clean toilets and offer the best toilet cleaning service in your area. Job versus business, which is right for you?

Michael Gerber says in his book The E Myth Revisited, to be successful one must work “on” their business not “in” their business. Talking with current business owners will give you the best idea of the ins and outs of owning a specific business.

Are there risks to owning a business? Yes, of course. Is there more security working for someone else? Not in today’s business environment.

Will you be a successful business owner? Increase your odds of success by restricting your emotions and using an “inside-out” approach to finding your next perfect business or career.

Is business ownership right for you? Have you done some real soul-searching lately?

If you have difficulty finding your best options, there are resources available to help you identify your personal goals and help point you in the right direction to obtain the success you want and deserve.

Types of Business Ownership Structures

A business ownership should be structured according to the needs of the owners and potentially liability that the business could incur. The different types of business ownership are

Sole proprietorship

Partnership

Limited Liability Corporation

Corporation (for profit)

Nonprofit corporation

Limited Partnerships

This type of business organization is costly and complicated to prepare. It is not recommended for the average small business owner. Limited partnerships are usually created by one person or company who solicits investments from others. The people who invest are considered the limited partners. The general partner is in charge of the business’s everyday operations. They are personally liable for business dents. Limited partners have little control over daily business decisions or operations. Because of this they are not personally liable for business debts or claims.

A Corporation

The most significant benefit to forming a corporation is that it limits the owners’ personal liability for business dents and any court judgments against the business. A corporation is an independent legal and tax entity. This sets it apart from other types of businesses. The owners do not use their personal tax returns to pay tax on corporate profits because the corporation itself pays these taxes. Any money drawn from the corporation in the form of salaries, bonuses, etc is paid by the owners in their personal income tax returns.

Limited Liability Corporations

Limited Liability Corporations provide their owners just that, limited personal liability for business debts and claims. However, LLCs resemble partnerships when it comes to taxes. The owners of an LLC pay taxes on their shares of the business income on their personal tax returns. This type of organization is good for business owners who either

Could be sued by customers

Run the risk of piling up a lot of debt

Have substantial personal assets they want to protect

Sole Proprietorship and Partnership

A sole proprietorship, or partnership, is the ideal ownership structure for an up and coming business or the average small business. They do not have to be registered with the state and go into effect as soon as one person goes into business with themselves or two or more people go into business together. Any business income is reported on the owner’s personal income taxes. They are also personally liable for any business debts or court decisions against the business.

For more information on business ownership structures, visit www.businessdirectoryforyou.com