By: Deborah Shane

The ”I Have a Dream” speech was delivered by American activist Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, in which he called for an end to racism in the United States. It was delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was a stunning sight.

Do you have a dream to start your own business?  I did. But, starting your own business is a very serious commitment today. It’s not easy to do, sustain, pull off and you may not be cut out for it.

As I look back on my own endeavor and path, after voluntarily leaving corporate America in 2006 and launching my business in 2007, I probably should have asked myself some additional qualifying questions before taking the leap. It’s a decision, I would absolutely make again.

It has been a challenging, winding and gratifying road and I know it is a decision that was right for me at the time, but it’s not right for everyone.

There are a few key reasons why new businesses fail: Lack of experience, insufficient capital, competition no dedicated sales and marketing plan.

If you really want to leave your day job and take the leap into starting your own business, do a comprehensive self evaluation. Going into this kind of commitment with open eyes, comprehensive preparation, all the tools and resources needed to succeed, will greatly impact getting through your first year and hopefully beyond.

Below are 5 key questions to answer before launching your “I have a dream” business:

Is This Really What I Want To Do?

It’s so important to be deeply committed and passionate about the kind of business you want to start or be in. Be brutally honest. If you don’t love it don’t do it.

Is My Idea a Marketable, Bankable Idea That Fills a Viable Niche

Make sure there is a viable market and niche for what you are offering that you can make money with. If it’s too narrow it might be hard to market. Going big doesn’t always work, so going smaller with a dedicated market niche can be very successful.

Am I Qualified to Take on This Endeavor?

Basic skills normally only go so far. Make sure you have no skill gaps when it comes to knowing everything about your product or service and how it can help people. Become an expert and leader. Focus on exceptional and unexpected customer service that people will talk about.

Do I Have a Dedicated Business, Sales and Marketing Plan?

Being good at what you do is not enough. A simple business blueprint that outlines what you do, how it works, how much it costs, how people can find you is a must. Incorporate results and testimonials with a realistic sales, marketing and social media strategy and always invest in some professional branding.

Do I Have the Capital and Cash Reserves to Get Me Through the First Year?

The biggest reason businesses don’t make it past the first year is they are undercapitalized and don’t have the realistic cash reserves to live on while the business is growing. Know how much you need monthly for the first 12 months and if you don’t have that in reserve, rethink the launch.

From one of the most successful professional athletes of all time Michael Jordan:

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

Launching your own business requires consistent, strategic trying, so make sure you’re in.

Don’t romanticize starting a business, professionalize it. Put everything in place to set you and your business up to progress and grow. Be realistic, pay constant attention to what is working and what is not and don’t be afraid to change things up or walk away.

Here are some essential resources about starting and running a business from the SBA and SCORE that can be crucial your first year.

I had a dream, took the leap with faith in February 2007 and through commitment, consistency and the willingness to change and learn, I am still standing and continuing to move forward.

If you are ready to take the entrepreneurial leap and have prepared yourself to succeed, by all means go for it.

Dare to dream – it’s quite exciting really.