Starting a business requires careful planning and understanding what you can do to address the need of the market. However, it is not easy. There are a number of things that you need to consider.
If you are thinking of starting a business, here is a comprehensive list of questions you need to ask yourself to help you plan, think through, and operate your business successfully:
Questions to Ask When You’re Just Thinking of Starting a Business:
- Why do you want to start a business and become an entrepreneur?
- What are your goals, interests, wants and capabilities? What do you want to achieve?
- What are your expectations for the business? How realistic are these expectations?
- Where do you want the business to be in the next five years?
- What are your financial goals? Are you prepared for the roller coaster ride of self employment income?
- Have you thought about what’s possible? Are you prepared to break new grounds?
Questions to Gauge Your Readiness for Starting a Business
- How prepared are you to be an entrepreneur? Are you prepared to spend the time, money and resources needed to get your business started?
- Are you a self starter and self motivated?
- Do you have the will to take your big dreams to fruition?
- Are you willing to take calculated risks?
- Do you know how to sell?
- Are you prepared to wear many hats? You may call yourself CEO, but at the start, you may also be the bookkeeper, janitor, secretary, and marketing person.
- If you will be working from home, can you weather the isolation of working solo?
- How flexible are you? Are you prepared for the changes that entrepreneurship brings? Are you also prepared to respond to the shifting demands of the marketplace?
- Do you see opportunities when others do not?
- Can you create an organized work environment?
- Do you have the discipline and focus that successful business ownership requires?
Questions to Help You Choose the Business to Start
- How do you want to start the business? Are you going to start a business from scratch, buy into a franchise or buy an existing business?
- Have you made a list of potential areas in your personal background, special training, educational and job experience, and special interests that could be developed into a business?
- Have you taken the time to explore various options for your possible business? Have you looked at what’s out there right now, and what may not be presently offered?
- What kind of business do you want to start? Do you want to start a business based on your passion, your previous work experience, or something that you think is lacking in the current market?
- Have you made a list of the characteristics of the business that you want to do and that has the best chances for success?
- When you have narrowed your search for potential business, does your choice fulfill a need?
- Have you looked at the potential profitability of the business that you want to start?
- What are the growth potentials of the industry of this business?
- What are the risks that this business typically face? Do you think you’ll have the right tools, strategies and resources to help you overcome these risks?
- How much do you know about the business that you want to start? If you think you lack the skills and knowledge, do you know how and where to get them to help you gain the confidence and skills needed to make the business successful?
Questions to Ask About Your Financial Readiness to Starting a Business
- Have you calculated how much capital you need to jumpstart the business and keep it running?
- Is the cost of the business within your reach?
- Where will you secure funding to support your production, marketing and operations?
- Do you have enough savings and other personal assets that you can use to fund the business?
- If you need to borrow, how good is your credit profile and do you have assets you can use for collateral? Do you understand what banks and traditional lenders look for when borrowing money for business?
- If you are thinking of getting an investor, what will make him or her agree to fund your business? What are the arrangements that you will be most comfortable with?
- How soon will your business start earning profits?
- If your business is not earning as expected, how will you support and keep it running? How long can you finance the business until it starts making a profit?
- How will you support yourself (and your family, if any) while you build your business?Do you have enough money saved to ensure that you can provide for your own personal needs, as well as your family?
Questions When Formulating Your Business and Developing Your Strategies
- Have you prepared your business plan? Do you know the steps and strategies needed to get your business up and running?
- What is your product or service?
- How useful is your product or service? Have you listed how others will benefit from using your products or services?
- What are the growth possibilities of this business?
- Do you know where or how you can get help and advice for your business?
- Do you have an exit plan for your business? How do see yourself ending the business and your involvement in it? Will you sell the business or do you want to take it public?
Questions When Thinking of the Operational Aspects of the Business
- What is the name of your business? Is it distinctive, unique and memorable?
- What is the legal structure of your business? Do you have all the paperwork you need?
- What licenses and permits will your business need? Do you have the requisite identification numbers for your business?
- Have you reviewed the local laws, including zoning ordinances, to ensure compliance of your business?
- How will you manage your business? How will you balance the day-to-day operations of the business with the big picture thinking and strategizing that a business needs?
- Do you have professional support in place (e.g. lawyer for all legal issues, accountant, etc.)?
- What steps have you taken to protect your business? If this is a unique product, do you have a patent? If you have inventory, how do you protect it from all possible potential disasters? If you have employees, what steps have you taken to protect yourself against employee theft?
- Do you think you can and want to handle every aspect of the business? Will you need to hire employees or additional manpower? Do you have the resources to hire additional manpower?
- How will you ensure that you pay the correct taxes? Do you know the federal and state tax requirements? How do you maximize your deductions?
- Have you made a layout of your intended work area to see how it will fit into its allotted space into your home? Do you have space for your inventory, if any?
- Have you checked with an insurance agent to determine what type of insurance your business will need? Is your business insured against various forms of liabilities that may arise?
- What is the level of difficulty in the creation or implementation of the product?
- Who are the suppliers that you need to contact? Have you lined up suppliers that are willing to work with you?
- Is the product safe? Have you tested its safety?
- Have you joined a professional organization or business network?
- Have you set a starting date to open your business?
- What tools and technologies can you use to improve your work flow and business operations?
- How can you run your business lean (especially at the start when money may be tight)?
- How can you convey professionalism, even if you are a one person business?
Questions When You Are Marketing Your Product
- Who is your target market? Is this market big enough to sustain your business (as well as your competitors?)?
- Why will they buy your product or use your service?
- Will your product or service maintain market appeal?
- What is the quality of this product, especially when compared to your competitors?
- Who is your competition? How saturated is the market?
- How much competition exists? If this is a local store, how many similar stores are in your vicinity? If this is a web business, who do you think are your closest competitors?
- What makes your product stand out from your competition? What is unique about your product or service?
- What is the brand of your business? How do you intend to communicate what your business is all about to your target market?
- Have you thought about the visual packaging of your business — every point that your prospects come into contact with you from your signage to business card to website?
- How will you price your products or services, especially with regards to your competitors? Have you priced your product competitively?
- If you are developing a unique product, what measures are you taking to protect it?
- Do you have a sales strategy and process in place?
- How are you planning to market the business? Do you have your marketing strategies and plans set up?
- How do you intend to use the Web to reach your target market? Do you know how to ensure that your web site can be seen in the search engines?
- Can your product be promoted with a strong advertising copy?
- How do you plan to use social media to engage and reach customers?
- Do you have strategies in place to ensure customer satisfaction and keep them happy? Do you have a process in place to make sure that you respond to prospects and customers quickly?
- What are you doing for your loyal customers?
- Will you get repeat and backend sales?