By: Constance Lee Menefee

Do you really have everything it takes to be self-employed?

What about keeping things going during family emergencies, personal doubts and just plain fatigue? Will you be able to recharge your batteries when it's just you and the telephone eye to eye every morning with another dead proposal in the wastebasket?

For most sole proprietors what you know or how good you are turns out to be less important than resilience. You have to sell yourself every day, learn to bounce back from every rejection, and accept that hours and hours of time put into proposals won't pay off.

Can you do this for a year or three before being able to actually save a little money or buy a new car or send your kid to college?

Self-promotion can never stop, not for a minute. If that makes you uncomfortable, don't work for yourself.

If having big bread-and-butter clients makes you feel safe, remember they can cut you off with little or no warning. There goes your cash flow. If they have taken up most of your time, then you don't have enough other clients to fall back on. It's like starting over all the time.

It helps to meet with other people who are also self-employed. Sharing frustrations and hearing other people's coping stories can be helpful.

Trouble is, many people self-motivated enough to start and operate a one-person business aren't always the best joiners. Meetings seem like a waste of time.You need to be out there doing business.

But it is worth the effort to find a group that can be your sounding board. They may be your only safety net when you need outside objective advice or help.
Understand that most small businesses can only support you and, if you're fortunate, your family. Cash flow is the biggest problem faced by even the most talented, creative business owners.

And if the thought of having no money for months on end makes your skin crawl, perhaps you should look for a job that uses all your skills and provides a steady paycheck.

  Article originally appeared in the Cincinnati Post, May 26, 1998