By Pamela Chatry, Premier Business Advisor and Mentor

Susan was laid off from her government job where she had worked for fourteen years as a customer service agent. Susan loved her work but was tired of someone else always controlling her future. So when the lay-off came, she decided she was ready to start her own business. Susan is just one of millions of Canadians who in the last decade have chosen to start their own companies.

Many people, like Susan, decide that owning their own business is a valid career choice. While it may ultimately prove to be the right choice, they haven’t given much thought to the demands their business will make on their personal lives. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the business opportunity that they forget that self-employment changes lives in ways both good and bad.

If you are thinking about starting your own company, talk to other entrepreneurs and ask them about the challenges. Ask for advice. Ask yourself some hard questions and answer honestly. Evaluate the extensive personal and professional demands. Think about how life will change for you and your family. Are you prepared to work long hours and give up your evenings and weekends to make this new business a success?

Create a business and personal budget. Be prepared for the financial commitments and consider how well prepared you and your family are to support yourselves while the company grows. Be aware that it always takes longer for a business to be self-supporting than predicted. It is also important to consider whether or not you can afford to lose the start-up money you are investing in the company.

Make a business plan! If you are unsure how to do this, seek out the help of a professional business advisor. You can’t afford to not plan ahead.

If you are considering entrepreneurship, there are no easy ‘get rich’ or ‘magic’ formulas. It takes hard work and money. Avoid risk and financial loss by asking hard questions, doing extensive planning, and obtaining more business knowledge. It’s also okay to recognize that that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Devoting time to extensive business and personal planning helps removes some of the risks of being self-employed.