Starting a small business is a massive undertaking, and not something you should dive into without doing your research. Having an interesting idea or concept is not enough, you need to do some serious soul-searching before you put everything at risk to start your own company. You have to ask yourself the hard questions to determine if you’re really ready for the challenges ahead. These questions can help get you started on your path to becoming a small business owner.
1. Do I passionately believe in my idea or product?
It’s not enough to simply think you have a good idea or product, you need to think you have an essential idea or product. You’re going to face a lot of obstacles when you first start out and you need to be the number one evangelist for your concept. If you’re not truly passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll quickly get discouraged by all the challenges you have to face and your company won’t make it.
2. Do I need to rely on loans?
How much of your financing for your new business will need to come from loans? If the answer is “a substantial amount” you need to create a steady plan for how you will pay the bank back so you don’t end up saddled with overwhelming debt.
3. Am I prepared to have no income?
While the amount of time it takes for a business to become profitable varies from business to business, chances are it will be a year or more before you are able to cut yourself a paycheck. Make sure your finances are in order and you will be able to survive without a steady paycheck.
4. Am I ready to make substantial personal sacrifices?
If you think your regular 9–5 job takes up a lot of your personal time, that’s nothing in comparison to how much time you will have to put into starting your own small business. Whether it’s sacrificing time with your friends and family, or time doing your favorite hobbies, you will definitely have significantly less free time on your hands when you are managing a new company and you need to be prepared for that.
5. Do I have the emotional support I need?
You need more than financial support if you’re going to start a small business, you need people behind you rooting for you and helping you along the way. If your family does not support your business idea, it will make the whole process much more difficult, especially when you encounter hardships in your first few years. Make sure the people around you understand and support your dreams and are on board with helping you achieve them.
6. How well do I know my market?
No matter how creative or unique your idea is, chances are you are going to have a number of competitors out there offering a similar type of product. You need to do copious amount of research into the market you’re entering before you open a business to learn who your competition is, what their price points are, and how you plan to stand out.
7. Do I have a plan to get the word out?
New businesses need customers or clients, and the first step to acquiring them is to get the word out. Fliers, newspaper ads, television ads and internet ads are all things you should consider investing in, depending on what format works best for your business. You also need a strong website that is both entertaining and informative. Videos are a great way to grab customers’ attention and tell them what you do. Companies like Square Ship can help you create videos that explain your business or product in a fun and entertaining way that visitors to your site are sure to remember.
8. Do I know how to manage?
Whether you plan on operating your new business by yourself or you plan to hire a staff, you need to know how to manage. Managing your own time can be just as challenging as managing a group of people and in both cases you need to have strong discipline and management skills.
9. Where will my business live?
Even if you just plan to operate your small business online from the comfort of your home, you need to have a clearly defined work space. Your bedroom or living room won’t cut it, they are too filled with distractions. You should designate an area of your home that’s just for work. And if you plan on opening a brick and mortar shop, you need to find affordable space in a great location.