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Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website,

Are You an Entrepreneur or…?

Categories: Biz Nuts & Bolts, Uncategorized


Aliza Sherman as CybergrrlAs a business writer who specializes in writing about women business owners and the issues they face and as a woman who has started and run several businesses since 1995, I’m puzzled when I hear women say:

I really want to start a business - but I have no idea what kind of business to start.

I hate to break it to these women, however, wanting to start a business and having an idea for a business are one and the same for almost every person who becomes an entrepreneur. I’m not saying that every entrepreneur has a fully formed business plan in their head before they start - or even one on paper - but I don’t think I’ve ever met or heard of anyone who just “wanted to start a business” but were stymied by what kind of business they should start.

My feeling is that if you want to start a business but have no idea what kind of business, chances are what you really want is the myth of the flexible, work-from-home entrepreneurial life or you want the perceived “control” and “creativity” that having your own business seems to offer.

Wanting those things does not usually make you a good candidate for entrepreneurship. My advice to you if you are saying to yourself “Yeah, that’s what I want - to work from home, have more flexible hours, and have a little more control over what I do” is to look into working from home for someone else’s company. Or explore ways you can telecommute at your current job. Or seek out a job where telecommuting is built in.

If you are still wondering if you should be an entrepreneur, here’s a quick quiz for you.

1. Do you have an idea for a business that is burning a hole in your brain, begging to be made real?

2. Are you a risk taker and love taking chances, even in the face of adversity?

3. Are you ready to spend hours and hours a day - and night - making your business happen?

4. Are you prepared to have your life dominated by business, often at the expense of your personal and home life?

5. Can you stand not taking a vacation for a year? Two years? Three?

6. Are you up for waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night realizing that the success - or failure - of your business relies mostly on you in the first year?

7. If you will have employees, are you ready to watch most of your hard earned money go into other people’s pockets as you may have to take a pay cut or no pay until your business really gets off the ground?

8. Can you live without health insurance for a while or do you have a spouse/partner who can put you on their insurance plan?

If you answered YES to ALL of these questions, then maybe you do have what it takes to start a business. But go back to #1 - what is your business idea?

Stay tuned for Thursday’s post when I’ll talk about how I came up with the idea for my first business - Cybergrrl, Inc.

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20 comments so far...

  • Great post! There are so many people who prey on those who “just want to start a business” - MLMs, spammers, you name it. This is a reminder that there’s more to it than want.

    Susanna  |  October 2nd, 2007 at 3:55 pm

  • [...] from Work It Mom blog, wrote a great post about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Its a great list. If you are thinking about starting [...]

    “I want to be my own boss!” « Mommy CEO  |  October 2nd, 2007 at 4:29 pm

  • This post is an excellent focusing tool - and these questions help me confirm that I’m NOT entrepreneurially inclined!

    Florinda  |  October 2nd, 2007 at 4:29 pm

  • this is fantastic!! i have an idea and it is slowly working it’s way into reality. but i realize i currently like it’s slow pace and will be ready when it speeds up. Hopefully, i now know what to look forward to!!

    Kate  |  October 2nd, 2007 at 6:26 pm

  • I wanted to offer a slightly different perspective from an NSF-funded program I teach called ACTiVATE ( We are working with women in the high-tech field who want to start businesses but don’t have that ‘killer’ idea and teaching them how to license technologies from universities and government labs to start and build a company. With this approach, you’re using someone else’s R&D to start a business. So far, we’ve seen 14+ businesses started in the 2 1/2 year I’ve been with the program and we’re just getting started!

    So there IS a way to start at least a high-tech business without having that idea, but it certainly isn’t the easiest way to go.

    Julie Lenzer Kirk  |  October 3rd, 2007 at 6:47 pm

  • Julie - that is definitely an interesting approach. Thanks for sharing.

    Aliza  |  October 3rd, 2007 at 11:35 pm

  • Aliza,
    Super questions! I think we really have to LOVE LOVE LOVE what we are planning to do as a business. When we love something, it means we take the good with the bad…the ups and downs, joys and disappointments, problems and perks require a steady heart and constant care because we know the outcome is worth it! I L-O-V-E my work :)

    Annemarie  |  October 11th, 2007 at 1:36 am

  • Aliza - I love this post. Many of my clients get romanced by those so-called Internet Marketers… you know - the ones that tell you you can make $1 million in 30 days.

    I’ve seen so much money spent on systems that don’t deliver on that promise.

    I love to see posts like this that tell it like it is, and ask these really deep-digging questions!

    Jenn Givler  |  October 18th, 2007 at 2:39 pm

  • I love this post. In looking at my business, I’ve wondered if I have designed a business that is scalable and will fulfill my long-term goals. I’ve been reading the book The E-Myth Revisited and gained some valuable insight. This book helped me understand that most people who start a business are NOT entrepreneurs. Often people make the fatal assumption that because they understand the technical aspects of a job that they can successfully run and grow a business that does the technical work. In addition, this book outlines how a business progresses through different stages and how they get stuck. It also gives you a process you can follow to improve your odds of success. Candidly, when I read the book it made me look closely at the business I created and think about how I could refine the business strategy so that it would have sustainable growth. I hope this book is helpful for you, too.

    Sallie  |  October 24th, 2007 at 3:03 am

  • Aliza,

    I agree with your post 100%. At least once a day, someone says to me, “You’re so lucky that you get to work from home”. Ha! Luck has nothing to do with it–as a serial entrepreneur (I’m on business #3), you’re compelled to start a business by your burning ideas.

    The entrepreneurial path is a “long, strange trip” and one that often has you waking up in a cold sweat asking yourself if your business is quite possibly the dumbest idea on the planet.

    Good post…thanks.

    Heather Allard  |  January 2nd, 2008 at 3:32 pm

  • [...] our new Quick Tips > Work It, Mom! Home > Blogs > Entrepreneur Mom Popular Posts Are You an Entrepreneur or…? 10 comments Business Travel…with Baby? 6 comments Do You Have Your Dream Team? 5 [...]

    The Entrepreneur's Life - Does Reality Bite? - Entrepreneur Mom - Work It, Mom!  |  May 6th, 2008 at 10:59 pm

  • Aliza,
    I just came across your blog as I looked for other moms who are looking to start a business or start a business.

    My husband and I founded As teachers, we had to do something else to help children who, because of overcrowded classrooms, varying needs, high expectations, etc., need something else.

    Starting a business allowed us to do that but the questions you posed are absolutely spot on, particularly waking up in the middle of the night worried about the business, our contractors (tutors), and parents, and how the business impacts our personal lives.

    We are obsessed with the education of children and that, I believe, will make the business successful. However, it will also cause a lot of sleepless nights.

    Susan  |  July 14th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

  • Great post! Starting a home business or any business is hard work. As a Network Marketing coach and trainer, I know that our industry gets a great deal of criticism. There is lots of hype and scams out there today. But our industry has a whole can offer so much. Most go to colllege for four years to prepare for the work force. Starting a business isn’t any different. Network Marketing allows you to earn while you learn. Is it hard work? Absolutely! Is it worth it? ABsolutely!

    Lisa Willard  |  July 30th, 2008 at 2:56 pm

  • I do like the way you created a guideline for people to see if they have it takes to be a business owner. I am a business team developer and the most important thing to understand is that if you are hounded by someone who you had shown interest, that could be a clue that is not the type of buisness to associate with, and the other one where they ask for a certain amount of money right up front. Our team likes to be sure that the opportunity is right you before making any final decision. I love that aspect of our business.

    Christa Hayburn  |  September 12th, 2008 at 4:53 am

  • I am currently expanding my famiy owned seasonal business. I quit my job as a nurse to pursue this venture WITH my children. We love it and have all experienced such great things. We are currently in the start up phase but feel free to check out our site and contact me for more info!

    Brandi Bruce  |  September 17th, 2008 at 6:39 pm

  • Hi Aliza, Great post and very truthful words! I just launched a business with my mom and after three years of ‘construction’ I am fully convinced that without the burning idea and passion to pursue it, we would never have arrived at this point! There were many times along the path that I wondered ‘is this really what I should be doing with 3 kids under the age of 6?’ Undoubtedly though, everytime I questioned, a new door would open and my passion to equip parents and increase their confidence on the job propelled me on! It’s an exciting ride and as I have engaged my brain in totally different ways, it has helped me to feel more balanced in this ‘child centered’ phase of life! My best wishes to all who take the path!

    Emily  |  October 25th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

  • In my opinion, innovation is key.

    Tutoring in Raleigh NC  |  March 14th, 2010 at 9:13 pm

  • Awesome post!! I am on business # 2 ( and can answer ALL 8 questions with a definite YES. Being an entrepreneur is like riding on a 24 hour rollercoaster.

    Kia  |  July 7th, 2010 at 1:27 am

  • Great post! I have two businesses, one as a marketing consultant started a few years back and a new venture– selling a product I’ve created. When I decided to go into business for myself my dad (who also owned his own business for years) told me…”if you think you’re going to work less and make more you’re kidding yourself. It will be REALLY hard!” He was right! I love what I do but it is NOT easy. For me the chase of making it succeed is part of the reward. That said, I can easily drive myself insane trying to keep it all together…starting a business is something you either have the passion to do or not and if you don’t like risk and hard work you will have some troubles!

    Jennifer -Me-Do Kids Dressing Valets  |  November 10th, 2010 at 1:42 pm

  • I think I was one of those people who really wanted to start a business but had no idea what kind of business. Years ago, I was a successful bank executive who ended up staying at home when I had my children. During those stay at home years I longed to start my own business because I wanted to create something of my own and I was dissatisfied with the corporate world. I just didn’t know what business. Now that my children have just left the nest, an idea for a business has finally come to me. I have been working on it for several months and will finally launch later this year. I am so excited and willing to do all of those items on your list! With my children out of the house now, it will certainly be easier for me than for mothers with small children about.

    Carolyn  |  February 21st, 2011 at 9:03 pm