When dreaming of the day you start your own business, it's not always clear when it's time to turn your fantasy into reality.

Staff Writer

Becoming an entrepreneur involves the right combination of knowledge, opportunity and mindset. You want to make sure enough pieces of the puzzle are in place to give your new venture the best chance at survival, but it’s difficult to jump from the comfort zone of a steady paycheck into the unknown.

Here are 9 signs you’re ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship.

1. You have the financial means to pursue your goal.

Maybe you’ve saved enough money to open your business and survive until it turns a profit. Or perhaps you’re lucky enough to have sound backing from your family or an investor committed to offering financial support while you get your business established. Either way, having funds to rely on during the lean start-up period will help ensure that you won’t have to sacrifice your dreams to return to a steady paycheck.

2. You’ve done your homework.

Behind the excitement of starting your own business are the nitty gritty details that go into having it succeed. That means making sure you understand the insurance, legal issues, regulatory compliance, financial record keeping, human resources, marketing and other less glamorous aspects of getting your business off the ground.

3. You’re ready for setbacks.

Being an entrepreneur means traveling a long, windy and often bumpy road. If you expect everything to go perfectly and don’t see any potential pitfalls, you’re probably not ready to be your own boss. Anticipate the difficulties that could arise and create a plan for dealing with them. Be sure you have trusted advisors on your team who can brainstorm and discuss problems with you as they arise.

4. You’re ready to work harder than you ever have.

If you want to open your own business because the hours at your current job are too long, you may be in for a shock. While you will have flexibility as your own boss, you will also be putting in significant amounts of time as you get things underway. It will most likely impact your personal life and the time you have to spend with friends and family. That said, the exhilaration of freedom and the potential for great reward drives entrepreneurs to work as hard as necessary to grow their enterprise.

5. You’ve already tested the waters.

If you’ve operated a sideline business while holding a regular full-time job, you already have a great sense of what it will take to build a successful company. If you’re still in the “dream” stage where your own business exists only in your head, do everything you can to start it up outside of your working hours to gain a clear understanding of what goes into running a business.

6. You can handle making hard decisions.

As the company founder, you will have countless choices to make regarding issues, big and small. If you need employees, you will have to hire, train, review and sometimes fire them. Be sure you’re looking at entrepreneurship through a realistic lens. Don’t allow yourself to get so swept away by enthusiasm that you don’t consider the harsher realities involved.

7. You’re prepared to fail.

The Small Business Administration found that approximately two-thirds of businesses survive at least 2 years, and 50 percent survive at least 5 years. That means that the longer you are open, the better your chances of survival. But it also means that the odds are grim for at least half of all new businesses. If you’ve taken out a loan to start a business that goes under, you could be paying it off if you’re among the 50 percent that fails. Considering the realities of failure doesn’t mean you aren’t sufficiently committed to your vision; it means you have considered the possibilities and you can look problems in the face, on a big or small scale.

8. You’re an avid learner.

You’re curious and are constantly interested in finding out more about your industry, your customers, market trends and the world in general. You’re always looking for ways to become smarter and improve yourself and your environment.

9. You’re passionate about what you’re doing.

Your dedication should be strong enough to carry you through the difficult times and the harsh reality of the inevitable “no” you will hear as you pursue new customers, partners or investors. Passion isn’t the only thing necessary to succeed in business, but you can’t get by without it.