It’s Global Entrepreneurship Month (GEM) here in Washington State. Time once again to tap into that latent entrepreneur hiding inside of you to explore the idea of starting and running your own business. From morning coffee with an entrepreneur to full-blown business plan competitions with prize money on the line, there is an event for nearly everyone.

Global Entrepreneurship Month (GEM) is our version of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a weeklong celebration that takes place in more than 100 countries. We started celebrating entrepreneurship in 2015 but came to find that we couldn’t pack all the events around the state into a single week, hence the month-long celebration known today as GEM.

The idea, of course, is to take budding entrepreneurs from the ideation stage to the startup stage. You may have been thinking about starting a business since you were in high school or are entering your second or third stage of life and want to create a little extra income.

Starting a business is kind of like deciding to have a baby. I know because I did both years ago – at roughly the same time. A newborn is an around-the-clock proposition that you have to put first. A new business is much the same. If you’re not running the business then you’re thinking about the business: how to get new clients, how to increase revenues, how to get the pricing right… the list goes on.

Thankfully, the Internet has tons of resources out there. Some are excellent. Others are sadly misinformed. By the second paragraph of a tutorial, you wonder if the person ever worked at a business, let alone had the gumption to build one from the ground up.

To save you time, we’ve assembled a lot of the information you need on our Startup Washington site. In addition to a complete list of this month’s GEM events across the state, we have The Small Business Playbook that will walk you through the entire process of starting, operating and growing a business in Washington State. All you need is a basic idea. We take you through the rest, from licensing and banking to finding the right location.

We even have a handy assessment tool to see if you have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur. Here are things to think about as you embark on your journey:

Are you a self-starter?
The success of your business is up to you. Are you able to get up in the morning and be ready to tackle the day, start new projects, organize your time, follow through on all the little details (even the ones you don’t really want to face) and make that difficult sales or collections call without putting it off? If you’re the type who likes to hit the snooze button four or five times before rolling out of bed to surf the Internet for a couple of hours before calling it a day, you probably aren’t ready to start or run your own business.

Are you a people person?
Running a business requires that you wear many hats. You will be an employer, customer service representative, accountant, collections person, consultant and janitor at various times in the life of your business, sometimes all in the same day. You’ll work with a lot of different people at different levels too, each requiring some level of finesse in dealing with anger, confusion, crankiness, dissatisfaction or even rage. How would you handle the different personality types and emotions people bring with them into business relationships? Do you have the right temperament to run a business day in and day out?

Are you a good decision-maker?
Making tough decisions, often under pressure and without all the facts, is part of the game. Do you have what it takes to make decisions on the fly and even improvise to meet short- and long-term goals?

Do you have the stamina?
Starting a business is not a 9 to 5 kind of job. You may find yourself working well into the night and on weekends, at least in the first few years. Are you physically, mentally and emotionally up to the challenge?

Can you create a solid game plan?
Many business failures could be avoided if there had been better planning at the start. Do you have the research skills needed to forge a comprehensive plan for your business?

Can you stay focused and motivated?
Starting and running a business is a lot like being on a rollercoaster. Do you have the ability to ride out the highs and lows without losing sight of your vision and be able to show up for work every day, even when things look momentarily hopeless?

Will your family and friends be supportive?
It can be hard to balance work and home life, especially in the beginning. You may have to adjust your standard of living a bit to make ends meet or put off that family vacation you were planning to meet a last-minute client request. Are you and your family willing to make short-term sacrifices for the potential long-term gains? Are your relationships strong enough to weather the inevitable conflicts between work, family and play?

If you’re thinking about starting a business, attend one of more of the Global Entrepreneurship Month events in your area. If you’ve already opened your doors, GEM events can help you refocus or redouble your efforts. I only wish GEM was around when I got the entrepreneur bug oh, so many years ago. It would have saved me a lot of time.

In the Emerald City, still an entrepreneur at heart,

  • Robb