8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business
So you have this great idea for a business, but you’re not sure where to start or if you really should launch your own company. Before beginning the journey of true entrepreneurship, there are some very important questions you should ask yourself first.
1. Is There Another Business Like Mine Out There Already?
There are many startups out there, and all are vying to bring something genuinely unique to the market. There may also be many established businesses that have executed your idea already. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s definitely something to consider when starting out and evaluating your competition.
2. Do I Have the Entrepreneurial Spirit?
The romanticism of the charismatic, creative entrepreneur is fine for self-help books, but true entrepreneurship is a full-time endeavor. Are you prepared for the countless sleepless nights and the time away from family? Are you ready to routinely risk what you have and live with the consequences? If you can’t handle rejection, disappointment and frustration, then entrepreneurship might not be for you.
3. Can I Say “No” When It Really Counts?
It’s good to be able to say “no” when it really matters. For every thriving pet rock, there are dozens of dead fads that flood landfills and get recycled into something else. You have to be able to see past the wonderment and flashy sales pitches in order to see a product or idea for what it truly is. And you have to be able to say “no” and pivot if that product or idea isn’t viable.
4. What Kind of Boss Do I Want to Be?
Realize that the type of boss you want to be might not be the right boss for the job. A laid-back approach, while great for a creative workspace, can be horrible for environments and industries that require structure.
Also, ask yourself if you’re ready to be responsible for multiple livelihoods. This means not only yourself and your employees, but also their spouses and children. There will be times when it’s necessary to let employees go, and if you can’t handle that commitment, you’re going to have a hard time being the boss.
5. Are You Just an Inventor and Not Really an Entrepreneur?
Both of these career paths can easily be confused with one another because they start with a spark of innovation. What separates the two is what they do with their innovations. Inventors specialize in making lots of good ideas that could absolutely sell, but they don’t really understand the sales side of business. Entrepreneurs see a good idea, whether it’s theirs or not, and run with it until it’s no longer feasible to do so. Ask yourself which one you are before starting a business.
6. What Am I Looking at Financially in Getting Started?
You need capital. If you don’t already have it, you’ll need to get it. You’ll also have to be comfortable with paying back your loans and have a plan ready if you can’t. Be cautious of having investors that are also family or close friends, as a ruined relationship is sometimes more taxing than the cost of bad debt.
7. What Sort of Legal and Tax Documents Do I Need to Set Up?
You will absolutely need to set up a legal business entity of some sort, especially when partners are involved. You will also need to pay taxes no matter what state you live in. It’s advised to hire a lawyer for these particular steps when getting your business off the ground.
8. Could I Live With Myself if I Didn’t Pursue This Opportunity?
Most people are content to see the sun rise again after a bad day. There are very few people who shoulder a lifetime of regret born of an abandoned business idea. Examine your reasons for starting up before determining if it is a necessity. The novelty of being a boss or having a fancy title shouldn’t compel you to quit your day job and put your life savings into a half-formed idea. Flesh everything out, think about your outcomes, and think about how it will affect yourself, your family and any partners or employees. If your idea has legs and seems viable, and you feel it’s your only shot at entrepreneurial success, then go for it. But if there are any red flags or hesitation on your part, it may be best to work on your idea or develop one with better chances of success.
Resilience is the best trait any entrepreneur can have. You have to be willing to take a significant amount of risk and be able to accept any losses you may endure. Taking these questions into consideration is a good foundation to begin with. Ultimately, if your idea is great enough to stake your time and money on, and you just have to try out being an entrepreneur, you should definitely move forward and give it your best shot.
Lindsay Paramore is an English graduate from Southern Methodist University, and has been writing professionally for over five years. She is an expert in the online marketing field, including content marketing, social media marketing, SEO analysis, and dabbles in photography. She lives with her husband and son in Dallas, Texas.