5 questions to ask yourself before starting a business
So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and start a business. You love the idea of being your own boss and have an idea you think could really work. Before you quit your job and dive right in, though, check out these five important questions that Valerie Khoo, founder of the Australian Writers’ Centre, thinks you should ask yourself.
1. Are you passionate about this business idea?
Your business idea can’t just be ‘a good idea’. It needs to fuel a desire in you that will push you to burn the midnight oil in order to make it successful. If you don’t have that drive, you may still get your venture off the ground and it might limp along or work adequately for a while, but it’s never going to fly unless you have true passion driving your efforts.
2. Is there demand for your product or service?
Don’t believe the myth of ‘build it and they will come’. Throw that romantic notion out the window and do your research first.
You need to ensure that there is a demand for your product. It’s going to be tough to set up a yoga studio in an area that is already saturated with other quality yoga studios struggling to fill classes. Either ensure you’re providing a product/service that’s in demand or be prepared to go where the demand is.
3. How are you going to fund your business?
Before you quit your full-time job and declare yourself an entrepreneur, you need a practical plan to fund your business. Some businesses, such as cafes, require huge capital investments. Others can be opened on the smell of an oily rag – a business coaching service might fall into this category.
While it may be dramatic and exciting to quit your current career cold turkey and plunge yourself into your new business, that really only works if you’ve got a ton of money stashed away to live on. Otherwise, consider transitioning to your new business in baby steps. It doesn’t sound as exciting but if your life is full of big financial responsibilities, it’s a wiser route.
Ideally, you can dip your toes in your business while you’re still earning an income elsewhere. In fact, this is a great way to test whether you have demand for your product or service.
If you want to open a massage therapy clinic, do it on weekends. If you want to open an e-commerce store selling football gear, build your site after hours. Yes, it’s hard work but you’ll learn a lot about the viability of your business without taking a massive financial risk.
4. Are you prepared to network?
Even if you prefer independence, your business life will be a whole lot easier if you’re prepared to network. Apart from the potential connections you can make to grow your business, sometimes it’s just great to be able to talk to people who understand what it’s like to run a business. Life as a business owner can be tough – and lonely. If your friends aren’t business owners, it’s hard for them to relate to what you’re going through.
The beauty of today’s digitally connected world is you can first start your networking on social media. This makes it a lot easier to nurture the relationship when you finally connect in real life.
5. Will you embrace technology?
Any business that wants to succeed and be efficient is underpinned by smart technology.
From your website and marketing tools to your internal systems, accounting and customer relationship management, you need to consider how technology can streamline your processes. If you think you can rely on analog ways of working, you’ll be left behind while your competitors steam ahead.
The idea of starting a business can be intoxicating, and it’s never been easier to become an entrepreneur. Dreaming about running your show is great fun, but these questions are designed to pull your head out of the clouds and ensure that your new venture is really going to work. If you’re still keen, then get ready for an amazing ride.