Ready to start a business? Seven questions you need to answer first

Are you excited about the prospect of starting your own business? Before you invest time and money in your idea, make sure you ask yourself these seven questions. 

Preparing to start a business is an exciting time. You’ve got an idea that you’re sure will work and you can’t wait to actually make your dreams real and put your business out into the world.

But before you leap in, it’s important that you take a pause, and ask yourself some important questions.

Why do you need to do this? Because statistics show that as many as 50% of startups fail in the first five years. So if you want to give your business a fighting chance of survival, you want to make sure you’ve laid down strong foundations.

And that means asking yourself the right questions before you invest too much time, money and hope in it.

Ready to start a business? Seven questions you need to answer first

Here are seven that Jane Jackson, career management coach and author of Amazon bestseller Navigating Career Crossroads, recommends you answer.

1) Is starting a business right for you?

The most important question to ask yourself is why you want to start a business in the first place.

What’s your motivation? Is it a matter of getting out of the corporate rat race? Wanting the freedom to make money without being an employee? Just because you want to do something different? Or to do something that will challenge you and provide, potentially, unlimited earnings potential?

While these reasons are valid, they focus on YOUR needs as the business owner, rather than the needs of your potential customers.

For your business to be successful, the product or service you offer needs to solve a specific problem or need for your customers. Remember: your job isn’t simply to make money but to provide value.

2) Have you conducted market research?

Before starting out, you need to zero in on your unique offering. Yes, you need a solid business idea, but an idea is only as good as the market demand for it.

Ideally, there should already be an existing demand for your service or product, so it’s important to test the viability of your idea. Market research will help you determine if there is demand for your product or service. It will also tell you if your business idea is one that generates interest and whether people will pay for what you plan to offer.

Luckily, gauging interest is quite easy. Conduct simple online surveys using services like Survey Monkey. Even more valuable is talking to others who have run successful businesses themselves and asking them about challenges they’ve faced.

3) Do you know the best business structure for you?

After you’ve decided whether you’re starting your own business, buying a business, buying a franchise or starting a consultancy, you’ll need to decide on your business structure.

Will you be a sole trader, partnership, a trust or a company? Talk to your tax accountant to find out what will be the best structure for your personal circumstances.

Visit your country’s government/tax website to learn more about the options available to you, any small business concessions you may be entitled to, registering your business, the records you need to keep, the deductions you can claim, and all you need to do to be compliant when setting yourself up.

4) Do you need licenses, registrations and insurance?

What else do you need to do to ensure your business is legal? For example, have you checked that your business name is available, and if so, whether you need to register it in your country? You might also want to trademark your business name too.

Insurance is essential, and setting up yearly coverage when you’re starting out doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep your finances in check by setting up a relationship with a good accountant and bookkeeper.

And, depending on your industry, you may need to register with official bodies or gain particular qualifications or licences to practise your skill. It’s important to check all of this before you launch your business.

There are so many things to think about, but remember: Be prepared to put in the hard work and long hours, because building a business is an exciting and rewarding time.

5) Do you have a business plan?

Without at least a basic plan in place you could charge off in the wrong direction. They key is to know where you want to go with your business, how you are going to fund it initially, how you plan to market it, who your competitors are, and how you will price your services or products.

If you’re unsure about how to create a business plan, using a business template is a good place to start. It will help you organise your strategy over the short and long term. You don’t have to stick to it religiously, but the more comprehensive your plan is, the more prepared you’ll be.

If you’d like a copy of an excellent business plan template, email me and I’d be happy to send it to you.

6) Do you have a website?

To harness the power of online marketing opportunities, you’ll need an online presence from day one. Before you do anything else, create and register your domain name.

Next, find a web designer to create your website and a graphic designer to design the logo for your business (or have a go at building a website yourself). You may be able to find affordable design work using online resources like Upwork or 99Designs. If you do hire a web designer, make sure you ask them these eight questions first.

If you can afford to, hire a good copywriter to communicate your offering on your website. If you can’t, you’ll find some helpful writing tips in these articles:

7) Do you have a mentor or business coach?

This is especially important if you’re new to the business territory. A business coach or mentor can guide you with a wealth of wisdom and street smarts that will come in handy starting out.

If you’re lucky enough to have older and wiser contacts in business who are willing to help, ask for advice. If not, invest in coaching if you can afford it, or join a small business network in your local area. This will cost you initially but it’ll pay off in the long run.

What tips do other entrepreneurs share?

Once your plans are in place, it’s time to take that leap of faith. Be prepared to put in the hard work and long hours, but remember building a business is an exciting and rewarding time and will create a lasting legacy of your drive and passion.

If you’d like to learn more about the steps you need to take to get moving with your entrepreneurial venture, listen to the podcast in the YouTube video below. In it I also share with you what nine entrepreneurs told me when I asked THEM why they started their businesses.

Listen to what the founders of Defining Style, Sonic Sight, The Digital Delusion, Corporate Podcast Production, Rachel CFO, Virtual Elves, The Word Stylist, The Numbers Matter and Simple Creative Marketing have to say about starting a business:

Jane Jackson is a career management coach and author of Amazon bestseller Navigating Career Crossroads. Her book takes you through all the essential steps to not only survive but THRIVE when changing direction.