It had been another really long day.
After a night of broken sleep, I had worked through the morning and was headed into an afternoon of meetings. Then the call from daycare came. My infant son was sick (again!) and I needed to pick him up immediately.
It was right then that I knew this wasn’t going to work.
My inspiration for starting Mom Corps sprang from the personal and professional struggles I experienced as a new mom. When I returned to work after the birth of my first son, I quickly realized that the work-life blend I desperately needed was just not attainable in a corporate setting.
And I felt pressured to make an unfair choice: either be a good professional or be a good mom.
Looking for additional flexibility, I did contract work for a period. I realized then that employers everywhere had a real need for people just like me. And I knew without a doubt that professionals across the country were seeking flexible work options to achieve a more satisfying work-life mix.
I saw a real opportunity, and I was motivated by a powerful force: my family. Those two factors were enough for me to ditch the training wheels and strike out on my own. My business concept was solid; the timing in our economy was right; and the rest is history.
Honestly, each of us takes a different path to entrepreneurship. Some, like Art Papas (founder and CEO of Bullhorn), can’t stand to be “under management’s thumb.” Others, like Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten (founder of The Next Web), refuse to let disabilities define them or limit their professional success. And for others, entrepreneurial inspiration is forged from near disaster – like Edward Wimmer’s (co-owner of Road ID) brush with “death by pickup truck” during a marathon training run.
And, of course, there are lots of entrepreneurial success stories like mine.
But regardless of an individual’s circumstances — or his source of inspiration — I think becoming a successful entrepreneur takes three things: the right personality, a great idea and good timing. So if you’re a successful professional, wondering if you should strike out on your own, ask yourself these questions to decide if entrepreneurship may be right for you:
What’s your risk tolerance? Does facing the unknown create a knot in the pit of your stomach, or make your pulse race just a bit? Make no mistake about it; becoming an entrepreneur is a gutsy move. You must be confident in your ability to: design and execute strategy; create structure and process out of a void; and spend money without a guaranteed return on investment. Be sure you’ve got the right stuff mentally before making the leap.
Are you a waffler? In other words, how comfortable and adept a decision-maker are you? When you’re at the helm, you make big decisions that impact the success of your business, every day — often based on limited information. And as your venture grows, more people (clients and employees alike) will depend upon your ability to make smart, timely decisions.
Are you passionate about your concept? To successfully pitch your product or service to others, you need to believe in it yourself — deep down in your gut. Whether you’re selling your concept to potential investors or customers, your enthusiasm and conviction levels will make or break you. Be sure you’re truly in love with your idea, and that your passion for it won’t fizzle like an adolescent crush.
How viable is it? You may be undeniably passionate about your idea. But to succeed, it needs to be a sound business concept, too. Conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis — and invest in sound market research — to gain the data, insight and perspective needed to determine viability.
Is it a good time to launch? Use the data you gather from your SWOT analysis and market research to assess whether it’s the right time to launch your new business. If you want additional perspective, consult with other business owners to get their take (we’re a good bunch of people, and we love helping budding entrepreneurs succeed).
What’s the alternative? If nothing changes (i.e., you stay at your current job), will you be happy and fulfilled — or resentful and stagnant? If you wait six months or a year, will your window of opportunity have passed? These are tough questions, and I have to be honest – sometimes, finding the right answers is even tougher.
I started Mom Corps before the Great Recession, at a time when true professional-level staffing was in its infancy. The need was definitely there. I was passionate about providing flexible work opportunities for great professionals like me. I knew I had the “right stuff”; my education and work experience gave me confidence in my abilities to create and lead a business.
And I knew that I couldn’t continue in my current role without my family and I paying a huge price.
For me, the stars aligned and I realized that it was time to ditch the training wheels. Is it your time, too?