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Tips for Business Start Ups: 9 questions which will tell you whether to do it or not.

The recession in the UK is generating several bizarre phenomena, not least being the fashion to encourage many more people to start their own businesses irrespective of their abilities, wishes or state of mind.

Many reasons are wheeled out as justifications for this life changing activity: you can be your own boss, you can turn up to work any time you like, you can turn a hobby into an income generator, you can play a game of golf whenever it suits. The fact you may come off the unemployment register is also a bonus to statisticians and politicians, massaging as it does the figures on the unemployment register.

But the notion that setting up a business is a realistic and achievable option for everyone, especially if they have just completed 30 years service for the same employer is a mirage.

Setting up your business isn’t an easy option which you can blithely dive into, with keys to your new premises and golden clock in hand, which will provide you with an easy route out of employment or a bit of diversionary relief to a retirement which is becoming riddled with boredom and inertia.

There are several questions to ask yourself before taking that plunge:

1. Are you prepared to wake up every morning of every day of every week of the year, preoccupied with the challenges you will face that day – and for which you will take the ultimate rap?

2. Are you comfortable with scary levels of risk? The occasional feeling that you are standing on a precipice, not knowing where the next weeks income is going to come from or how you’re going to fend off your increasingly noisy creditors?

3. Do you have any knowledge of the stuff of the business you want to set up? If you want to set up a restaurant for example, do you know anything at all about the restaurant trade apart from knowing what your favourite pizza topping is?

4. Can you add up and / or write in coherent sentences?

5. Are you handling the transition to Internet shopping, e-commerce and social networking with aplomb?

6. If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’, are you bringing in other expertise and voices to your dream which will turn the ‘no’ into a ‘yes’?

7. Is your motivation for setting up a business explained in terms of days off, visits to golf clubs or any other type of diversionary activity?

8. Is this business opportunity you’re dreaming of a great way of getting out of the house and avoiding the imminent marriage disaster you’ve seen coming for years?

9. If the answer to questions 7 and 8 is ‘yes’; and if you answer question 6 with a ‘no’, then stop hallucinating, pack the business plan back in the attic and don’t give up the day job. You will save yourself and your nearest and dearest a whole load of heartbreak – and may even enjoy your retirement to boot.

Tips for Business Start Ups: beware the evangelising business adviser

Georgio is the sullen ICT type. He shuffles half heartedly into the office but has not a lot to say other than ask where the funding is. He hasn’t done very much (any) thinking about his business idea, or the business plan, or indeed much else around the concept that he rather pathetically shoved across a table at you in his first meeting. No-one yet has told him that his business proposition sucks, his attitude sucks and that he has much chance of making a success of his sucky idea as I do of winning Wimbledon this year.

All your instincts are saying to you: tell him straight, show him the door. Don’t give up the day job or whatever it is that got you through my office door. Whatever you do, don’t set up in business. You’ll have a terrible time, you sullen young thing.

However, what you don’t recognise is that you have other instincts too that are saying; I’m going to get him through this; he’s going to become a top selling business man if it’s the last thing I get him to do. I’m gonna show him a really tough time and roughen him up in the best Duncan Ballantyne toughing tradition and at the end of it, he’ll look back, dressed up to the nines and thank me for it, he really will. This is gonna be a case of tough business love and he’s gonna take it like a man.

At this point either the business adviser or the sullen proto-business man should probably leave the room or someone should throw a bucket of cold water over the both of them.

It’s not in anyone’s interest to make that relationship between evangelical adviser and sullen prototype a happy one. It’s not going to be happy. Ever. Get over it Mr Adviser and take your evangelical fervour to those who will respond to it in the happy clappy way that sets your and their world alight. Sullen Georgio will remain in his kind of happy sullen way for many years to come and its not your right or responsibility to knock it out of him.

And a word to Sullen Georgio too: if you ever share a space with a business adviser who is trying his hardest to enthuse you about your idea, tell him to mind his own business – and you get on with developing yours, in your own, inimitable, sullen way.