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Becoming an Entrepreneur- Is This Your Next Step?

According to AARP, the "mature workforce"are those working above the age of 50, despite being called immature by my grandson more than a few times. With unemployment at historical highs, many in our age bracket have found themselves unexpectedly unemployed at a time when we we're thinking retirement as opposed to unemployment. With record numbers of college graduates hitting the streets and business tightening their fiscal belts, many are thinking for the first time about striking out on their own and starting a business. Good idea? It depends on if you've done your homework and how well you've thought it through. According to a study by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, only half of new business start ups make it to the fifth year.

Most people think all it takes is a great idea. While we've all had an epiphany here and there, the fact is it's all in the execution. To have a brilliant idea is not enough... you need a plan to execute it. You could have the greatest thing since sliced bread, as they say (now there was a brilliant idea!) but if nobody knows about it, sales will be slim.

Becoming an entrepreneur takes money... usually lots of it. The biggest reason for the failure of a start up is lack of or shortage of capital. Are you willing to put your life savings or 401(k) at stake at this stage of your life?

You need a mentor Have you consulted with someone who's been through it before? Does it really make sense to struggle through a process that many have tried and most failed? As Martin Sheen said in the opening minutes of the retired show "The West Wing-" "The key to my success? Just surround yourself with the best and the brightest.' Going solo is not the way to go.

Is the world ready for your new product or idea? Is there a market for it? With the cost of manufacturing and other costs to produce it, can you realize a profit without asking $20 for a $2 widget? Will people have a burning desire to have what you are selling?

Do a business plan Proper software can be purchased for less than $100. Be prepared to spend about 20 hours at a very minimum to draft your plan, especially if you are thinking of asking others for financing. If you don't want take the time to tackle this step, rethink the whole matter as well as your commitment to the project.

What's the exit plan? At this stage in your life, time is precious; you don't have 20 or 30 years to become an overnight success.

Becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Waking up on Monday morning knowing you haven't made a dime can be very daunting. If you plan to go down this path, be sure to think it through-and then think it through again. I've been an entrepreneur my whole's not a piece of cake. Speaking of cake: I heard the Twinkies franchise is still for sale- you want to go in together?

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