by Matt Alderton | August 13, 2019
For those who are climbing the traditional corporate ladder, professional advancement consists of a series of vertical moves, from junior to ever more senior roles. For some people, however, the best way forward isn't up at all; instead, it's out -- out of traditional employer organizations and into self-employment.

But entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. And even if it happens to be for you, now might not be the best time to pursue it.

"Branching out on your own can be both exciting and totally terrifying," author Lydia Dishman notes in an article for Fast Company. "So when do you know it's time? Unfortunately, there's no perfect answer to that question, but there are some things you can do to help make a more informed decision about whether or not to take the leap."

If you have an entrepreneurial itch, the first thing you should do when you're deciding whether to scratch it is to assess your priorities. "A great place to start is by making a list of what you really value about your work -- such as culture, industry, role and compensation -- then ranking them in order of importance," Dishman advises. "For example, if you rank team culture the highest, then working as an independent consultant might actually be unfulfilling for you. However, if it's a role like founder or CEO you're after, then it's probably time to think about entrepreneurship."

Your finances also should inform your decision: You should only go off on your own if you can afford to forego a regular paycheck while your business gets off the ground, according to Dishman, who says the next thing to figure out is what you can bring to the marketplace that's new and needed.

"You need to have something unique to bring to the world," Josh Grau, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Northwestern Medill Integrated Marketing Communications Program, tells Dishman. "Your area of specialization might be crowded with competitors, so it's key to determine what white space you can occupy in a particular market."

In conclusion: When you know what makes you happy, what you can afford and what you have to offer, then and only then can you decide if you are the right person to start a business, and if now is the right time for you to start it.

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