7 Vital Questions You Need to Answer Before Starting a Business
Whether you’re thinking about venturing into a business area or just expanding your current one into new territory, this may be the year to take action. And why shouldn’t you? New businesses are created every day, and many of them are sustaining extremely well.
According to an article in Forbes, about 70% of new companies survive at least 2 years, 50% at least 5 years, 33% at least 10 years, and 25% at least 15 years. There’s no reason why you can’t be one of these successful entrepreneurs and have the same longevity in your venture. However, your amazing idea is just the first step. Here are seven questions to ask yourself before going full speed ahead into your new venture:
1. Why am I doing this?
The first step in understanding whether you should pursue a new venture is the reasoning behind it. Your reason may be that you’ve always wanted to try your hand at entrepreneurship, and if so, it is undoubtedly a good time to start a business. As explained in Success magazine, the current barriers to entry are low. That essentially means that in most industries, it’s relatively easy to open your own business and there aren’t many deterrents to stop you from doing so. Common steps such as creating a website, designing a logo, or getting promotional material are much less expensive than in prior years. Even with very little capital, there are sites like Fiverr and Upwork where you can find freelancers to assist you
2. What will I get out of it?
Some people may want to gain knowledge or experience through their new business, but for many, the desired benefit is mostly financial. People don’t just create business plans to get funding; they may also want to outline the return on their business, which is a very wise move. Go into the venture understanding how long it will take to turn a profit. Plans also help you manage your initial expenses so that you don’t further delay your road to profitability. For assistance starting your business plan, view these templates in Entrepreneur Magazine's Small Business Encyclopedia.
3. Do I have what I need?
Resources, resources, resources. Do you have what you need to be successful in this new venture and if not, do you have access to it? Many new business owners don’t even know what they need or even if they do, they realize they are lacking in one or two.
To get a head start on your resource list the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great place to start. The SBA puts several free resources at your disposal, and it can help you not only learn more about running your business, but also get loans and grants—more money to work with is always a good thing.
4. What people do I need to help me?
Most people can’t do it all alone. Even if your business relies mostly on you and your skillset, there will be items that you’ll need help with—whether on the backend of operations or right up front. You’re only one person and as your business grows, it will become even more difficult to wear all the hats you need. Furthermore, it’s not always wise. Doing too many tasks may significantly reduce productivity, and take away from your ability to work strategically. For some hiring tips, read SBA's "Hire Your First Employee." If you think you still may not be ready to hire, though, look for local freelancers online (Upwork or Elance are good starting points) and try them out for a month.
5. How will I manage my time?
Starting a new business will undoubtedly take up much of your time, so time management can be the key to getting it all done. Most successful entrepreneurs, like PictureBooth’s Ross Hill or Money Crasher’s Brian Spero, cite time as being an entrepreneur’s most important resource.
Now, we also have the perfect personal assistant with us each day—our smartphones—and there are a number of apps that can help us get and stay organized. From Wunderlist helping you prioritize your tasks to Adobe EchoSign helping you sign contracts on the go, there literally is an app for everything.
6. What are the initial goals of my business?
Often, entrepreneurs jump into their new idea without fully identifying, in detail, the strategic goals. As you start your business, you’ll need to be cognizant that your performance and financial measurements aren’t enough. You’ll need to also figure out what key performance indicators (KPIs) will be important to your business. Set benchmarks to see where you stand, and track them against your industry standard as well against your company’s performance as time
7. Do the goals of the business align with my personal professional goals?
Building a valuable business can be rewarding, but only if it matches your professional goals. Putting your time, energy, and financial resources into a business that won’t work with the personal professional goals you’ve set for yourself isn’t worth it. As explained in this video by startup consultant Cate Costa, this alignment is not just important, but is essential to long-term success. To figure out your personal professional goals, try to create SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—then go from there.
By sitting down and thinking through these questions, you’ll be setting yourself up for success, and setting your business up for long-term financial security.