How to Conduct a Self-Appraisal for Business Planning

If you run a small business or are a sole proprietor of your own business — even if you’re an entrepreneur hoping to create the next Cisco — you still have one very important question to answer: “Do I have what it takes to turn this opportunity into a success story?”

You see some common traits among the CEOs who were multimillionaires before they turned 25 and the entrepreneurs cruising around in sports cars issuing orders on their cellphones while the value of their stock options soar: talent and hard work.

To succeed, you must exhibit both, and to be a high-flyer or, for that matter, to be self-employed, you need discipline, confidence, and the capacity to live with the uncertainty that’s part and parcel of being out on your own.

As a first step, you need to appraise your strengths and weaknesses. Try and identify your strongest and weakest areas so that you can capitalize and compensate accordingly.

Not all personal strengths and weaknesses are equal contributors to business success. For example, if you plan to be a sole proprietor who works mostly alone, the ability to manage a staff doesn’t matter much, but self-motivation is absolutely essential. Or, if your business will depend on face-to-face customer service, interpersonal skills will be indispensable.

Just because you’re weak in an important area doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to turn your idea into a business, but it does unveil areas that will require extra work and compensation on your part.

For example, if you aren’t good with details, but details are important to the success of your business, this exercise alerts you to the fact that you may need to hire a personal assistant or cajole a colleague into tying up all the loose ends.

Put a copy of your personal strengths and weaknesses grid into your daily organizer or post it near your computer. Having it close by constantly reminds you of who you are, the strengths you can draw on, and the areas you need to bolster as you begin the challenge of planning your business.

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