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7 signs you shouldn't be an entrepreneur

You've read a few books, heard the cautionary tales, created a business plan, and talked to other business owners. You've done plenty of homework and feel starting your own business is right for you.

That's a great start, but let's make sure. If any of the following strikes a chord, give a little more thought to taking the entrepreneurial plunge:

You think playing fantasy sports or Solitaire at work is "me time." When revenues and profits are a distant dream, "me time" is the last thing you'll have time for. Starting a business is overwhelming and all-consuming. Start thinking of "me time" as the time you spend thinking about how to generate revenue.

You feel office personalization is important. You dreamed of having an office -- or a bigger office -- and want it to reflect your personality. Say you plan to open a restaurant; since patrons will never see your office the only thing it should reflect is "bootstrap." Money should never be spent on anything that does not touch the customer. You will be too busy trying to land and please customers to worry about whether your office befits your stature or aligns with your personality.

You don't empty your own trash even when you're going that way. Someone takes care of that and besides, your job is to focus on more important tasks? Not when you start a business; entrepreneurs wear every hat. Efficiency is everything: No movement should be wasted, no time saving is too small, and no expense is small to eliminate. If doing whatever needs to be done isn't something that comes naturally, keep working for someone else.

You feel you could be a lot more productive... if you only had a new (insert latest technology). Think about your last computer, smart phone, software, etc. purchase. Did you really become more efficient? Can you quantify the gains, or was it just nice 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 always money wasted.

You're still upset your department got the short end during the last budget cycle. Unless a venture capitalist comes calling or your parents fund your startup you won't really have a budget. Money spent doesn't come from an invisible corporate pot, it comes from your pocket. If you despise struggling with limited resources and hate seeing your great ideas compromised by budgetary concerns, when you find out how limited resources are in a startup you'll also hate running your own business.

You discuss work-life balance issues with passion and intelligence. If you think a lot about the conflict between work and life, and you currently feel work is winning the battle, just wait until you start a business. Work will eat life for breakfast.

You've ever said, "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.) Every day you have to earn the right to stay in business. Your experience and years of hard work earn you a place at the table. Dues are paid when you get paid by customers.

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