If you've been daydreaming about starting your own company, perhaps now's the right time.  At least Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer thinks so. During a recent talk at Stanford University, Ballmer proclaimed:

Now is the time for people who care, who want to invent, who have skills in specific scientific and information technology areas to get out there and add to the productivity of the economy.... The question is, will you have the passion and the tenacity and the interest to really start something that's important?" 

So - do you?  ReadWriteWeb has a couple of packages to help you decide. In one, Bernard Lunn ticks off 10 Things to Be Clear About Before You Start a Company:

  1. Is this your first venture?
  2. Are you really an entrepreneur? (see next list)
  3. Does your venture involve something you understand really well?
  4. Can your mother understand the value proposition?
  5. Can you see the right wave?
  6. What does your startup want to be when it grows up?
  7. Starting a company is hard and uncertain.
  8. Get a partner or fly solo?
  9. Would you refuse a well-paying job to do this?
  10. Can you raise appropriate financing?


Next, ask yourself, Are You Really an Entrepreneur? Again, Lunn distills the top ten traits you're probably going to need:

  1. You're always looking for opportunities.
  2. Are you prepared to work long hours, every day, for an indefinite period of time?
  3. Good Health.
  4. Do you have a unique service or product?
  5. Are you willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term success?
  6. Honesty and integrity.
  7. You're dreaming miles ahead while focused on what you're doing right now.
  8. Are you self-confident?
  9. Discipline.
  10. You're prepared to say, "I don't know, but I'll figure it out."

If you've been laid off and find yourself mulling over that long-held idea, or you're just ready to stop dreaming and start doing, now may be the time. But before you do anything, make sure you answer these questions honestly.

-- Chad Broadus