To some entrepreneurs, success is often spelled with several P's


(Niki Scott is on vacation. This is one of her past columns.)

If you're disillusioned with the corporate mouse maze, you mabe thinking of starting your own business.

Before you quit your job, on the other hand, you might want to be sure you possess these essential ingredients for entrepreneurial success:

* Purpose. Successful business people have clear, definable goals. Always. Entrepreneurs who wander here and there usually don't succeed.

* Passion. You have to care passionately about your product or service. You have to care so much that you will defend it to anyone, at any time, in any place; enough so that you embarrass yourself in front of total strangers and strain long-standing friendships because even your best friends are tired of hearing about it.

* Perseverance. This quality's first cousin is persistence, which is that small, stubborn, irritating voice that says "I'm not giving up. I don't care what you say!"

* Preparation. You need information before you start your own business -- lots of it! Just check with your library or local bookstore and pick the ones that appeal to you.

Your local Small Business Administration office can provide you with information, and you might qualify for a government-guaranteed loan as well. Also check with your mayor's or town council's office and your Chamber of Commerce for sources of information and help to local businesses.

* Perspective. This is what keeps you sane when you're afraid you'll fail by reminding you that you'd still be you, and failure isn't fatal, and this isn't the only thing in your life that matters, anyway. It's also what keeps you from getting a swelled head when you succeed.

* Performance. Dreams are important when you own your own business, but they never take the place of getting the job done.

As an entrepreneur, you must be able to perform when you don't feel like it, when there's no boss standing over you, when you're sure you don't have it in you, when it seems that no one else in the world works as hard as you.

* A financial Plan. What are the minimal costs for starting this business? What kind of equipment, supplies, space and personnel will you need at first, and how will you pay for them? What about telephone listings, deposits on office space, insurance premiums, advertising, etc.?

How long can you expect to operate without making a profit? How much operating capital or other in come do you need, in other words, to see you through this predictably lean time?

* Presence. In business, presence is the ability to hold people's attention when you're with them and be remembered by them when you're not.

* Finally, you'll need Priorities. If you have these, you won't get swallowed up by this new business venture. You'll make time for your family and friends and, most important, for yourself.

Remember, this business venture should be an important part of your life -- not your whole life.

Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.

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