Are You Ready to Start Your Own Business? Take the “Risk Audit” to Find Out

“I am in the interior design and architecture business. I have been working for two years at an architectural firm, and I have gotten as far as I can here. My dream is to begin my own interior design company. How does one begin? How do I take that plunge without jeopardizing my financial situation?” Maria G.

Congratulations on your ambition to hang out your shingle, Maria! If we’re to fulfill our ambitions, we need to be aware when we’ve “hit the wall” in our current workplace. Sounds like you’re there.

I understand your concern about the financial risk. Starting your own solo practice will always be a financial risk. The question is: Is your proposed business a reasonable risk? And, furthermore, have you prepared sufficiently ahead of time to mitigate that reasonable risk?

To determine your readiness to start up, take this “risk audit”:

1.Do I have enough cash on hand to cover all my living expenses for one year?
2.Do I have enough cash or credit to get my company infrastructure up and running (marketing and branding, website, office space and supplies, accounting/billing system, legal structure, professional software, personnel, etc.)?
3.Do I have clients ready to sign up with me immediately?
4.Have I established my own high-profile professional brand in the community, apart from my current employer?
5.Have I defined a niche that will differentiate me from my competitors?
6. Do I have a killer rolodex?
7.Have I researched and developed a fee schedule?
8.Do I have a marketing plan? (Who are my potential clients, and how do I reach them?)
9.Do I understand the difference between doing my work and running a business?
10.Do I possess the skills necessary to run a business?

Based on the result of your audit, Maria, you’ll know if you’re ready to take the plunge. If not, you’ll be able to identify what you need to prepare in order to ensure your best chance for success. Good luck!

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