Arrow-right Camera


Self-Help Quiz For Entrepreneurs

Mon., March 24, 1997

Self-help quizzes and do-it-yourself diagnostics are popular features in women’s magazines, but they rarely appear in the business pages. Yet it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about your business and how you are coping with the toughest job in America.

Being an entrepreneur is incredibly stressful. Despite computers, cellular phones, pagers, scanners and e-mail, an entrepreneur’s life is no simpler. For most of us, it’s a chaotic juggling act.

So, spend a few minutes with this quiz. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s meant to provoke thought - and action.

There are three sections: management, money and time.


1. Do you dread having someone walk into your office to speak to you privately?

2. When was the last time you had breakfast or lunch with your key employees?

3. When was the last time you hosted an off-site staff meeting?

4. Have you implemented any new ideas proposed by your staff since the beginning of the year?

5. If you had a magic wand and could vaporize aggravating employees, who would be on your list?

6. Are you trying to fire someone now?

7. When was the last time you hired someone? Fired someone?

8. Do you offer on-site training or tuition reimbursement?

Based on your answers, you might want to make some personnel changes. Life is too short to work with anyone who gives you a headache or a stomachache. In a small business, every person counts. And since you’re the boss, you can choose whom you work with every day. If there is a “storm cloud” on your staff, seriously think about outplacing them. Why pay someone good money to make your life miserable?

On the positive side, take advantage of your staff’s bright ideas. You are paying them to be smart and creative. Let them do their work.


1. When was the last time you spoke with your banker?

2. By now, you should be in the thick of preparing your tax return. Are you?

3. Without opening your business checkbook, how much money is in your account?

4. How many accounts are past due?

5. How much money do you owe?

6. Are sales higher or lower than last year at this point?

7. Do you have enough money to buy the new equipment you need to boost productivity?

8. Is your accountant doing everything legally possible to minimize your taxes?

Too many business owners play ostrich when it comes to facing financial issues. You need to monitor your cash flow every day, every week and every month. Slow-paying or no-paying customers are not worth having and it may be time to fire them. Be sure to communicate openly with your banker.


1. How much time do you take for yourself each day?

2. Do you feel exhausted before going to work?

3. Are you working longer hours but not accomplishing much?

4. Is your to-do list longer than your shopping list?

5. Do you have trouble keeping track of phone numbers and important notes?

6. Is your desk a mess and your to-read pile sky-high?

7. Do your family and friends tell you that you look awful?

8. When was the last time you took two weeks off?

Being busy is not necessarily productive. If you have no time for yourself each day, make some. Try taking a short walk or afternoon nap rather than gulping coffee. Ask a staffer to clip interesting newspaper and magazine articles and put them in a file. Then, tote them along to read while you are waiting in lines or for appointments. Bring your calendar home at the beginning of the month and ask your family to book some time with you. Put those dates in ink and don’t change them. Taking care of yourself should be your first priority because so many people depend on you.


The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Jane Applegate Los Angeles Times

Click here to comment on this story »