Before You Start Your Business
Too often I come across business owners and entrepreneurs who come in to our social media communities without any understanding of their audience, their customer base, or they just flat out do not understand how to run a business and ask us simple questions that they should have answered for themselves a long time ago.
The following six questions are all things you MUST take into account before starting any business as an entrepreneur or business owner. If you’ve already started your business, hurry up and do this, before you put too much work into it.
Why am I starting a business?
There is, of course, no right answer for this question. You have to find the right answer for yourself. It is because this is what you love to do, and could not bring yourself to do it for someone else? Do you want to expand what you are already doing? Are you just doing this because you need a paycheck?
Okay… now I take back what I said before., that last one may be one of those rare “wrong” answers I said doesn’t exist. If your sole motivation is making steady paycheck… entrepreneurship is a difficult long term proposition. You may want to just go get a salary position for someone else if you need a steady paycheck immediately).
Who are the ideal customers of my business?
A business and marketing plan targeting Senior Citizens will certainly be different from one targeting millennials. And as a young business owner, remember to search first for your IDEAL customer base for your growth, don’t just assume “anyone can by my customer” so your market is “everyone.” That is a quick path to failure, as you try to please too many people.
What is the business location?
Sure, your location could be your living room, or the internet, as your service is completely virtual. That’s what you need to keep in mind. Do you need to pick up a retail space downtown? Do your homework and be realistic about your needs. Be sure to allow your goals, services, and ideal customer base to help identify what is most important, and what makes the most sense.
How much money is needed to start my business?
Far too often people ignore the simple things: Rent, Gas Money, Groceries, that you absolutely need to survive. Not only that, but when starting businesses, most who fail have done so because they failed to pay attention to other hidden expenses, such as licensing fees, equipment rental, construction or renovation of work spaces, and the worst: TAXES! You should have at least 12 months worth of living expenses saved before you start your own business.
Who can help me with my business?
Regardless of where you are in starting your business, you need to include other people and get other opinions, even if it is just in a consulting capacity. You may be able to wear many hats in your business, but no one is an expert at everything. Do research, seek advice and support from friends, family, and even industry influencers – many are very happy to help you with your questions. Be sure to plan for hiring before you are even ready to hire. Know what kind of person would be the perfect hire to help you grow.
How will I handle failure?
Are you the kind of person that gets discouraged easily? Do you get angry easily? Do you wallow in self-doubt and fear? A good leader and business owner needs to be able to shoulder the burden and responsibility of ownership and management without falling or throwing in the towel too early. Try to plan for the worst, while hoping for the best.
Starting a business involves careful planning, key financial decisions and a sometimes complicated set of legal activities. If you are a citizen of the United States, this resource from the United States Small Business Administration entitled can help you get started with your business in the United States.
To accompany this post, I found a great infographic from ContactMe with a basic roadmap to starting your business. Obviously this is simplified, it’s something closer to 142,251 steps to start and run a business… but that’s an overwhelming number of steps to include in an infographic.