You’re contemplating a move. A big move. Maybe it’s a dream or it’s a response to circumstances beyond your control, like losing your job.
What you are considering is more than a job change. It could be a shift to an entirely new career, or maybe finally starting that business you’ve long thought about.
Before you jump in, take out a pen and write your answers to these five questions. I’ll warn you, they’re not easy questions. Your first inclination may be to brush them off or give them no thought at all. But, if you resist the urge to skim them and take the time to write your responses, I’ll bet you’ll gain more insight than you expected.
Here they are. The 5 questions to ask before you jump into that new venture:
- Who stands to gain from your decision? Write down all the people you expect would benefit from what you’re contemplating. Include yourself. And your future customers. But also consider your family, friends, business partners, employees, and community. Think broadly, not just economically.
- In what ways do they benefit from your future venture? The more precise you can get about how your venture will help them, the better clarity you’ll have about what you deliver (your product) and how you deliver it (your values).
- What’s at stake if you don’t undertake this venture? You now know what’s gained by doing it. Now look at it from a slightly different angle. What would be lost if you didn’t act on it? How would ignoring this move right now affect you? Affect others? Would it be a positive or negative thing? Consider both short and long term effects.
- Will this venture cost more than you’re willing to pay? Imagine the sacrifices you’ll be making for this change. How long are you willing to make those sacrifices? What about the sacrifices others (your family, for instance) will have to make to support you in it? For instance, if you’re considering starting a business, is it still appealing when you have to sustain its losses? Or when your spouse has to take on more work to sustain your loss of income? Or when an urgent demand that requires more time away from family? What’s your tolerance level (and your spouse’s) for the sacrifices you envision? (If you need help there, ask others who have done what you’re contemplating doing.)
- Is this going to bring out the best in me? Will this venture enhance your strengths or will you need to be overly reliant on things you’re not particularly good at nor enjoy. For instance, if you don’t enjoy sales, will the change you’re seeking make you more dependent on selling skills you don’t have?
These questions may sound like I’m not very sanguine about starting new businesses—or shifting to new careers. Far from it. I’m eager to help career shifters and would-be entrepreneurs. And because I’ve started a number of businesses, I’m often asked about the entrepreneurial life.
My encouragement to each would-be venturer is the same: “Come on in. The water’s warm. It’s one of the best ways to learn about yourself. But just beware: Sharks live in warm waters.”
It’s wise to know what attracts them before you jump in.
Comment below: What questions do you wish you had asked yourself before you dove into your current venture?