Got what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

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Say you've read the books, taken heed of the cautionary tales, filled out some standard checklists, and had many long conversations with friends and family. You've done your homework and feel owning your own business is right for you.

That's great, but let's be sure. If you recognize yourself in any of the following, reconsider before taking the entrepreneurial plunge:

You spend a lot of time personalizing your office. Sure, you dreamed of a bigger office; you're proud of your bigger office; you deserved that bigger office; and naturally you want it to reflect your personality. But say you plan to open a restaurant; since diners will never see your office. the only thing it should reflect is "cheap." Money should never be spent on anything that won't touch the customer. You will be too busy chasing customers to worry about whether your office befits your stature or aligns with your personality.

You manage your fantasy teams at work. When revenues and profits are a distant dream, trash-talking the other owners in your fantasy league the last thing you'll have time for. Starting a business is overwhelming. Exit your fantasy leagues now. Spend that time thinking about how you'll make profits.

You never empty your own trash. "Someone" takes care of that, you say? Your job is to focus on more important tasks? Not anymore. Entrepreneurs wear every hat. Besides, efficiency is everything: No movement should be wasted, no time savings are too small, and no expenses too minor to eliminate. If doing whatever needs to be done isn't something that comes naturally, stay where you are.

You are sure you could be a lot more productive if you only had a new (insert hot new tech tool). Think about the last computer, smart phone, software, etc. you purchased. Did it really make you more efficient? Can you quantify the gains? Or was it just fun to have? In your own business you'll be lucky to get the "must have" stuff. Even if you have the funds, "nice to have" is money wasted.

You can't get over the fact your department got shorted during the last budget cycle. Unless a VC comes calling or your dad funds your start-up, you won't really have a budget. Money spent doesn't come from an invisible corporate pot. It comes from your pocket. If you hate struggling with limited resources, hate seeing your great initiatives unjustly compromised by budgetary concerns and can't wait until you're in charge ... when you find out how limited resources are in a start-up, you'll hate running your own business.

You passionately discuss work-life balance issues. I feel the concept of work-life balance is an artificial construct, but let's pretend one does exist. If you think a lot about the conflict between work and life and you feel work is winning the battle, just wait until you start a business. Work will eat life for breakfast.

You sometimes say, "Wait, I've paid my dues." When you run your own business, you pay your dues every day. (The same should be true if you work for someone else: The only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make, each and every day.) Today, tomorrow, the next day: You earn the right to stay in business. No one cares about your experience or years of hard work. Dues are paid in revenue.

  • Jeff Haden On Twitter»

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    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.

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