Chapter one: Is business ownership right for you?
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This chapter will help you think about whether owning a business is right for you. Exploring business ownership starts with thinking about why you want to own a business and what you hope to achieve. You’ll then look at the qualities that make a business owner successful and begin to explore the qualities that you, as a potential business owner, possess or can acquire.
It’s important to realize that owning a business will have an effect on your life and may affect relationships with your family, friends and community. To encourage you to start thinking about this, there’s a section on understanding the commitment of owning a business. This chapter will encourage you to explore the conditions of business ownership and will help you decide whether owning a business is the right thing for you at this time in your life.
Why do you want to be a business owner?
As you consider whether or not to start a business, it can be very helpful to understand what’s motivating you. Everyone has their own reasons and some may conflict with the realities of being a business owner. In this section, you’ll have a chance to think about and document YOUR reasons for becoming a business owner. As you work through the rest of this chapter and the next, continue to think about what you hope to achieve by becoming a business owner and how you’ll achieve it.
Reasons why people start a business
Sometimes people choose to start a business because they’re inspired by a great idea. Other people start a business because there are very few jobs in their community. Some other reasons that people have for starting a business are:
- I have a great idea and I want to make it happen.
- I want to be my own boss.
- I want to make money.
- I want to make a difference in my community or in the world.
- I want to work from home.
- I see an opportunity and I want to take advantage of it.
- My parents’ business needs me (or someone) to take over.
- I think I would be good at it.
- I want to enjoy what I do for a living.
Write down why you want to start a business. List all your reasons.
You may want to come back to this again at the end of Chapters 1 and 2.
What’s it like to own a business?
There are many different kinds of businesses, each with their own challenges and rewards. One of the main differences between having a job and owning a business is that YOU are responsible for making the decisions.
This can be both exciting and scary. The chart below lists some of the positive and negative aspects of running a business. Go through the list and decide whether you would find each challenge easy or difficult to manage. Write down any additional challenges or opportunities you can think of.
Challenges and opportunities in owning a business
Things I value or can learn:
- rewards are tied to your efforts
- long hours
- flexible hours
- you make all the decisions
- marketing yourself and your business
- little or no pay at first
- you are the boss
- hard work
- you think about all aspects of the business
- you manage the risks
Do I want it/Can I do it?
Are there other challenges or opportunities in owning a business?
Write down all the challenges and opportunities that owning a business may bring and think about whether these will be easy or difficult to manage.
Your business strengths
In this section you get to think about the skills you need to be a successful business owner and whether you have the "right stuff."
As you look at the strengths and skills that lead to business success, think honestly about which ones you have, how they might be helpful in your business and what strengths you might need to find in someone else, such as a business partner or employee.
Characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
Business schools and business owners agree about many of the characteristics that contribute to the success of a business owner. Some of those characteristics are described below. Read through them and think about which ones you possess. There’s a checklist in the next section that you can use.
- Confident – you trust in your own abilities, even in the face of doubt and criticism from others.
- Decisive – you're comfortable making decisions; willing to take responsibility for the consequences.
- Organized – you can keep track of many different things at the same time.
- Disciplined – you're able to stay focused on work, despite distractions.
- Hard working – you're ready and willing to make the effort required to get things done.
- Independent – you're able to take initiative, make decisions and get work done by yourself.
- Honest – you're truthful and law-abiding.
- Persistent – you can keep going, even in the face of challenges and obstacles.
- Sociable – you enjoy engaging with other people.
- Optimistic – you can see the upside in most situations.
- Risk-taker – you're willing to make decisions in the face of uncertainty.
Keep in mind that these are just some of the skills that successful business owners may possess. It’s not necessary to possess all these skills and there may be additional skills that can help you be a successful entrepreneur.
Reflecting on your skills and strengths
Consider the characteristics listed in the previous section. Which ones do you have?
Helpful tip: If you’re having trouble with this checklist, ask people who know you what they think about your strengths.
What other strengths and skills do you bring to your business?
- previous management or leadership experience
- you communicate well with people
- achieving consensus in decision-making
- you’ve worked in this business or industry before
- financial know-how
- ability to motivate others
- know how to get things going
- trade or professional designation/certification/license
- a business idea that you’re passionate about
- cash, credit, equity or other assets
Consider all the strengths you’ve identified so far and answer the following reflection questions:
- What are my strengths? What makes me unique?
- How can I utilize my strengths to start a business?
- How can I utilize my network of friends, family, neighbours and the community to help me gather the strengths I need?
How will this business fit with your life?
Owning and operating a business can take a lot of your time, attention and energy, so it’s important to consider other responsibilities and obligations in your life. Understanding how a business will fit into your life will help you to make a better decision about the type of business to start, when to start it and how to operate it. In this section, you'll consider the responsibilities you have to yourself, your family and your community. In owning and operating a business, you may have to balance your responsibilities, so plan carefully to ensure that the people who rely on you will be looked after. You also may learn that something you already do could be turned into a business.
Impact of the business on your family
- What are your family responsibilities at this time?
- How will you manage them if you start a new business?
- Are these responsibilities likely to increase over the next few years, or will they decrease?
- Will the financial risks involved in owning a business have an effect on your family’s needs and plans?
- Are there ways that your children or other family members could be involved in your business?
Impact of your family on the business
- Is there enthusiasm in your family for your business idea?
- Is your family worried about you starting a business?
- Are there people in your family who have started successful businesses?
- Are there ways for your family to help you in the business? Are they willing to?
Things to think about:
- Will you be able to manage both family and business responsibilities? What ideas do you have for making it work?
Review your list of challenges and opportunities in owning a business and consider whether you’ll be able to manage these alongside your family responsibilities.
Other parts of your life
People often have many responsibilities to look after or activities to participate in on a regular basis. What sorts of obligations do you have in your life?
- council meetings
- traditional activities
- volunteer firefighting
Things to think about:
- Are there activities you might have to give up in order to have the time and energy to own and operate a business?
- How can you manage your time to ensure that you’ll devote the necessary time and energy to both your business and your other responsibilities?
How will this business fit with your community?
The relationship you have with your community may or may not be a factor in making the decision to own a business. In this section you'll think about the impact your business may have on your community and how your community may affect your business.
Describe your community:
I live on/in:
- rural area
- remote community (no road access)
- small town
- large town/small city
- major urban centre
The main industry in my community is:
- communications and media
Examining the impact your business may have on your community
Will your business:
- create jobs in your community?
- buy supplies or materials from local businesses?
- sell goods and services from your community to other communities?
- have an environmental impact on the community?
- bring increased traffic to the community? Is this good or bad?
- contribute to the quality of life in the community
- provide training to people in the community?
- use up scarce resources?
- add to the infrastructure of the community?
- help to keep wealth in the community?
- have no real impact on the community?
Conclusion: Overall, will the business benefit the community?
Does the community:
- encourage new business development?
- have existing businesses?
- have people with the skills you need?
- have the physical and information technology infrastructure you need?
- know about your business idea?
- have by-laws that affect your business?
Conclusion: Will the community support your business?
Is there a fit between your business and the community?
Your community has people with different experiences and skills that may be able to help you with your business. Examine the characteristics of your community, including the people and aspects of your community that are supportive of your business and those that are not. Does your business fit well within your community? If not, how can you make sure that your business and your community can work together to achieve success?
You’re now at the end of this chapter. You’ve reviewed your reasons for wanting to own a business, identified your strengths and determined how your business will fit with your surroundings. Complete this self-assessment to help you determine whether owning a business is right for you.
- I know I want to start or run a business because:
- I have assets and strengths that will make my business a success. They are:
- My business can fit with my life. Here’s how:
Review your answers and decide: is business ownership right for me at this time in my life or should I think about a different path?
If it seems that business ownership may not be for you, or the timing isn’t right, there are other paths you can consider, including working for someone else, acquiring more skills, and speaking to a trusted friend or advisor who can help you find a different path.
Speak to a trusted friend or advisor who can help you find a different path.
Where to find support and more information:
Your community may have a number of business support services that you can use to help you consider whether business ownership is right for you. Economic Development Officers, Band Council offices, Aboriginal Financial Institutions, banks, government offices and other community members can all help you to explore business ownership. The following Internet links may also be helpful when considering business ownership:
ABED provides services and supports to Indigenous businesses across Canada. Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC) partners with Aboriginal Financial Institutions to provide funding and support for business development to Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities across Canada.
BDC is a Canadian bank dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs. They offer consulting and financial services for Aboriginal businesses.
A guide for Indigenous women who are interested in establishing and running a business.
SEBCs offer entrepreneurs all the tools they need to start and grow their businesses. There are numerous centres across Ontario. This link provides a full list of SBEC locations as well as links to their websites.
Resources for starting a business, including research and planning guides, checklists, forms, and templates, as well as information on business regulations for each province