Do millennials have unrealistic expectations about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? Or are they just more willing to take big risks in order to be their own boss?
More than half of adult job seekers (53%) say they are likely to start their own business in the future, according to a recent poll conducted for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). And beyond that 53%, a surprising seven in 10 of the 547 poll respondents said that the freedom of being their own boss is worth sacrificing the kind of relative security that comes from working for someone else, even though that may require rising through the ranks and avoiding layoffs.
They may be tempted by TV programs such as Shark Tank, but many of them are in for an nasty surprise. Only about half of small businesses survive longer than five years (and only about one in three make it to the 10-year mark) even though about 80% make it through the first year, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
“Developments in technology and the Internet have made it easier than ever to start a business,” said Gregory Anton, CPA, chairman of the national CPA Financial Literacy Commission of the AICPA. “However, they have not necessarily made it easier to succeed.”
It requires a certain financial expertise to sustain a small business and make it profitable over the long term. Here’s a four-step plan that the AICPA recommends to increase the chances of business success…
1. Make Sure You Possess a Solid Financial Foundation
Before starting a business, make sure you have your own financial situation in order. If you’re drowning in student debt, starting your own business may not be the best idea. The more you know about finances, the more you’ll be able to endure the ebb and flow of running a business.
2. Examine Your Own Financial Situation
Ask yourself tough financial questions and do an honest and stringent self-evaluation to assess whether you have the right background and fortitude to start a business and not get overwhelmed. Do you have a backup plan if the business isn’t generating profits and your expenses are greater than your revenue?
3. Prepare a Financial Budget of Expected Costs
Estimate the costs to run your business. If you’re leaving a job that provides health-care insurance and retirement benefits, factor those costs in as well.
4. Create an Emergency Fund
Before you embark on a new business, make sure you have a minimum of three months of savings socked away to pay bills if the business runs into trouble. Keep funds in an interest-bearing checking or savings account, and if you get paid a large check, consider saving the money rather than spending it.