11 signs you’re not ready to run your own company
Ian Lurie Feb 18 2011
So, you want to run your own company? Check this list first. If you fit more than 4 of these, you might want to wait a while. You still have some growing up to do:
- Your ego is bigger than you are. You just have to be the smartest person in the room. Uh-oh. That’s not good. If you’re going to succeed as a company, you’ll want to find people smarter than you. Even if you are the smartest person in the room, you shouldn’t need it.
- You think revenue = cash flow. You poor, poor soul. Try to give your employees a revenue report the first time you miss payroll, and see what they say.
- You’re in it for the money. Of course we’re all in it for the money. But you need some other motivation—maybe you really, really love producing a top-quality product, or you relish closing big deals (not the same as money, trust me).
- You have no price structure. It’s a lot easier to succeed in business if you get paid. Make sure you know what you’re worth and charge it.
- You respond to crises by throwing things and screaming. It’s OK to get a little hot under the collar. But if you meet challenges by imitating a possessed Tasmanian Devil, you’re not going to be much of a business leader.
- You can’t delegate. Actually, you can learn this one along the way. At some point, you will delegate or die.
- You hate working with customers. If you’ve found a business that doesn’t require customers of any kind (a legal business) please, let me know. I want in. But until then, understand this: Your ability to serve and please customers will get you paid, or get you and your company hacked into fist-sized chunks before you can say “bad service”.
- You don’t like hard decisions. Layoffs. Firings. Moving to a new office. Paying yourself versus paying the rent. You’re going to have some tough ones. Be ready.
- You don’t like choosing sides. Wow. I don’t envy your staff the first time they come to you with a disagreement. Of course, I see this almost daily in Corporate America, so you’ll have company.
- You think negotiating = screwing the other guy. You might get a few nice deals, but people will figure you out and avoid you like the plague.
- Your business plan is to sell the company and retire. I’m sorry, but you haven’t even started your company yet. You might want to take care of little details like a product/service, some happy customers, maybe a profit, before you start looking for Warren Buffet. Don’t cite Facebook and tell me you’re going to be like them. The road to hell is littered with copies of that business strategy.
When I started my company, I would’ve matched at least 8 out of 11 of these. It’s a miracle I survived, never mind that Portent is still around, growing, 16 years later. The only thing I had going for me? I am a fast learner. Each time I nearly piled my company into the ground at transonic speeds, I learned and moved on to the next mistake.
You’ll probably do what I did and rush in. Be a student of your own business. Learn every single day. That’s how you beat the odds, bounce back from mistakes and get stronger even when things go awry.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More