If you’re sitting on the sidelines wondering if starting a business is the right goal for you, you’ve already taken the first step to becoming an entrepreneur. Being curious about working for yourself is one fundamental component of entrepreneurship you shouldn’t underestimate. It is a characteristic you share with some of the biggest names in the business world.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approximately 49 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years of operation. That’s a sobering statistic. There are lots of things to consider if you’re thinking about starting a business, and some of them can be so critical to your success that you’ll be in trouble almost as soon as you open your doors if you don’t address them early on.

Even though the small business failure rate is high, small firms are critical to the U.S. economy. The SBA estimates that small businesses represent 99.7 percent of businesses employing workers. That’s not all. Here are a few other facts from the SBA you should know about:

  • Small businesses account for 44 percent of the total U.S. private payroll.
  • The small business sector contributed 64 percent of net new jobs to the U.S. economy in the past 15 years.
  • In the U.S., small businesses create more than half of the private gross domestic product (GDP) not related to farming.

Some small businesses fail — but clearly, lots of small businesses succeed, too. How do you position yourself on the positive side of these statistics? Being a strong entrepreneur is really about working smart and getting the expert help you need to fill the gaps in your knowledge. Being able to learn from your mistakes is a good trait to develop, too. There’s no magic gene that makes a good entrepreneur. If you have the desire, a talent, or a great idea, you can build on that.

When asked about entrepreneurship, Roy Ash, the co-founder of Litton Industries is quoted as saying: “An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.” Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith that you have what it takes to succeed. Here are a few points to think about if you still have doubts:

A hobby isn’t a business – An interest can turn into a successful business. Many technology startups owe their beginnings to a couple of dedicated techies exploring new ideas on the weekend. Enjoying a hobby doesn’t necessarily translate to succeeding in a business based on that hobby, though. A business isn’t an artistic enterprise (for the most part, anyway). It’s commerce.

Planning pays off – You may have the know-how when it comes to product expertise, but without understanding the marketplace, mastering the subtleties of purchasing and pricing, and handling all the other important details of starting a business, you could be stretching your know-how beyond its limits. Know how — then learn more.

Find financing – Being undercapitalized is one of the quickest ways to get your new business into trouble. It’s a stark reality that you can have a dynamic idea (or superior product) and still be unsuccessful. There are a number of financial hurdles between you and small business success. Know the numbers: If money matters aren’t your business strength, get help. Organizations like SCORE and sites like SBA.gov provide practical, easy to understand information about small business money matters.