Starting out on the path of entrepreneurship and starting your own business doesn’t begin with the active site of the business. It involves all the preparation and foundational work that comes even before you start executing your business idea. By ensuring you have all the basics in place, you will be setting yourself up for success. Although some of these foundational steps may not be the most fun and exciting of tasks when it comes to the scope of your business, they are important steps and questions you should ask yourself before forcing, headfirst, into something brand new.
Whether this is your first venture or the chance to delve into another business after already having set up another one, there are still a basic set of questions that you should be asking yourself to make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be. Statistics have shown that 20% of businesses fail in their first year and 60% fail within their first three years, so it is vital that you understand your venture through and through before you risk your time and funds on something that may have been doomed from the start because you didn’t action your due diligence.
Finding your “why” and questioning why you actually want to start a business
Finding your “why” is something that has become something of a cliche within the business world, but for a good reason. When referring to your why when it comes to starting a business venture means exploring the reasons and motivations behind wanting to start a particular venture or idea. Ask yourself some questions and be brutally honest with yourself. For example, what is the inspiration behind you wanting to start a business? Delving into exactly what makes you want to run a new venture and start a business needs to be enough to keep you motivated for longevity.
Exploring what problem or problems your business is trying to solve and if this is personal to you and your beliefs will ultimately shape and from the work ethic of your business. It is important when thinking about your why and motivations because it will very much be the purpose of your company, and so many new business owners will start their business without thoroughly thinking this through and then lose traction because they don’t have a clear goal or motivation for their venture. At the most basic level, sit down with a pad and a pen and write down what your business idea is, how you’re going to execute it and most importantly why you are doing this. Explore your “why” in great depth, know your venture inside and out, and you will be setting yourself up for success.
Are your business ideas and ventures profitable?
When it comes to a business idea, you need to think about if it is sustainable for you in the financial sense. If not, you may want to reconsider your action plan. It won’t be good for anyone if your business venture loses more money and costs you more money than it makes. This is very much going back to basics in the world of business. This is not to say that money or making a huge profit had to be the most important factor for your business, but as an entrepreneur, you will be responsible for bearing any financial burdens, so making sure your idea can cover the costs of your business is a must.
Ensuring you make enough money back to put back into your business to keep it running is the minimum you should expect from your business plan. So outlining your exact costs and doing your research is key and should not be taken lightly. Taking the time to really make sure that you know where your business stands financially will benefit you in the long run.
Who are your target market and audience?
Your business and product will never please everyone, so you need to have an idea of who your customer is. What are their interests, what will they get from your business? Exploring your target audience and tailoring your business to them requires research and foundational work. Taking the why of your business and making use of social media and survey groups will allow you to find out more about your target market and, in turn, be helpful for your marketing and advertising.
Understanding who will be buying into your business and utilising your service or product is important because you can find out how your business will be navigated by your customer. Bearing in mind that your business and venture will not be for everyone, will make sure that you are focusing on your target market and niche. Staying within a niche and target audience will allow you to stay focused and keep your business ideas streamlined. Sometimes in business less in more.
(Image Source: Launchwithrika)
Who is your business in competition with?
More often than not, there will be some version of your business venture out there on the market, so understanding the different variations of your business already is key for you to understand what’s different about yours. Analyse your competitors and see how they are leading their customers online and encouraging them to use their service or buy their product. By researching and looking into how your competition is running their business will allow you to gain insight into the sector that you are looking into. See how strong a brand is and how they are dictating its business moves and marketing strategy, you have an active business to look at, and with the beauty of the internet and social media, you can see how other brands are working successfully the tools that will become available to you. Without treading on any toes and depending on the sector you could reach out to some business owners and ask any questions that you have and find out if your new venture is truly suited to you and something that you think you will be able to commit to in the long run of your business. The more you know about your sector and the realms of your business ideas, the better you will be set up for.
Have you thought about your Unique Selling Point?
Alongside doing your research into your target audience and competition, exploring truly what your unique selling point or USP is will help your marketing strategy and how you move forward with your business. Ask yourself if your business fills a gap in the market for your sector or if you can offer a service or product for a lower price? Explore your business plan and truly explore what makes your business unique and what you can offer. This might be linked to your why and the motivations of you and your venture. Start with a mind map and do your research – you will not regret putting the time into doing your research.
How will you market your business?
Having a marketing strategy is extremely important when it comes to launching a new business venture and by looking into your marketing options you can see what will best target your target market. Outlining your niche and your audience will result in your marketing being more streamlined and targeted you can assess which platforms will be best for you to use and ensure that in the long run, you’re not wasting funds on experimenting with too many strategies because you would have done the initial research into your target market so you are doing you best to be as prepared as you possibly can. Although this seems like a running theme when it comes to delving into a new venture, doing your research when it comes to any part of your business is crucial and very much applies when it comes to the marketing of your venture and business.
Look into social media companies and what you would need to do in order to market your business yourself. Do you know the jargon surrounding your marketing strategy, and do you know what to do in order to make the most out of your marketing platforms? Most of this information is available for free and you can even reach out to some marketing agencies if you are struggling with where to start.
Is the price right?
When it comes to pricing within your business, are you able to give the best price to your customers? This is where your research will be king because you can combine what your competitors are pricing their services at and what you want to prioritise. Do you want to create a more bespoke brand and spend more money on packaging and postage, or are you prioritising giving the best price and creating an affordable business? It all ties back in with your why and market research. This is an excellent chance for you to really break down how you want your brand to come across and pull together all your research to streamline how you want to price things. If you are pricing yourself at more than the sector average, ask yourself what more your customers are getting for that extra cost and if they would be willing to pay it.
Do you have the right initial funds?
When conducting business and starting a new venture, a very important thing to calculate is how much it will cost you to start up your business. This is not to be taken lightly and not to be done in a fleeting way. It is not only materials you will have to think about, but factoring in the future expenses of your business within its infancy is important.
Factors to think about when calculating costs will be very much dependent on if you are renting out a space outside of your home. If so then looking into ways that this would operate, in a financial sense, for your business is key. This would also be the same if your space will be from home and calculating how this will affect your expenses. Looking into ways, you can claim back on any utilities and generally, being savvy about ways you can save money as a business owner will be in your favour. Checking the prices of marketing and packaging as well as other operational and logistical costs, will very much be prioritised and factored into your funding research. Basic things to think about in terms of cost when ir comes to starting a business could include, registering your company name, a website, packaging, and service creation.
Will your personality help or hinder you?
There are many different types of entrepreneurs, but there needs to be some self-reflection and honesty about if your traits will help or hinder your business. Are you someone who struggles to outsource and control, if so you need to reevaluate how your business will run when you need to expand? Are you motivated and passionate about your business, and is it enough to keep you going and disciplined? These are the types of questions that will help you assess yourself and see if this is truly the right move for you. Once again, setting yourself up for success.
Looking into your personality will help you assess which parts of the business you will truly be useful in and which is truly best to outsource to a professional if possible. Do not think of outsourcing or asking for help as an ego defeating action, but as something that will grow your business and give it the best possible chance to thrive for a long time.
(Image Source: ResearchGate)
Will you need a team or some help and how are you going to hire?
Expanding and growing is only natural as your business gets more and more successful and operational. But thinking about a team and who you would like to hire isn’t simply something to consider down the line, but something you may have to break down for the start of your venture. For example, will you need to source a manufacturer if your venture is centred around a product, will you need to take on a freelance writer if your business is centred around content? All of these considerations are important when thinking about how you would like to establish your workforce right at the beginning of your business planning. Really break down all the layers and what you can realistically dedicate your time to and what you can outsource to someone else. You need to reflect on the type of team you need and what you can do alone, and be honest and don’t let your pride get in the way, be realistic with yourself.
What resources will you need and can you use what you already have?
When thinking about funding, costs and hiring, you need to also think about what resources are vital to the success of your business. If you want to start a social media agency and create content but don’t have the appropriate software, then that is an investment you will have to make. Thinking strategically about every step and layer of your business will allow you to see what resources you will need and how urgently. This includes absolutely everything. From software to stationary, it is always better to be over-prepared than underprepared when it comes to the resources you need for your company.
Can you give your business venture the time it needs?
Although financial funds and savings are important for a business venture, investing your time in your business is something that must be considered. Managing a business takes up a lot of time and energy, so ensuring you have that time to invest is extremely important. You have to evaluate your life and ensure that you are in a good place to be able to start a business and commit the time and resources you need to help it be successful. Understanding the risks and sacrifices that you will be taking when starting a business is something that you must carefully evaluate. Understanding the time that it takes to put into your business at the beginning of your journey is something you should make sure you get to grips with so nothing will be shocking to you when it comes to it.
Are the legal requirements for your business in order?
The legality of your business is something that needs to be considered before you dive in headfirst with your venture. Depending on the nature of your business, whether it be a product or service, check the legal structures that will be needed to protect you, your business and any people you may hire to be a part of your team. Doing your homework here and making a note of all the things that contribute to the legal structure of your venture will be key to making sure you don’t get into any trouble later down the line.
Have you looked into your taxes and what you have to pay?
Just like ensuring your legal structures are all in order, preparing for what taxes you will have to pay as a business owner is very important. These are the types of questions you need to be thinking about when unpacking the logistics of your venture. As owning and running a business will be considered your job, taxes are something you, unfortunately, cannot avoid. It is a requirement to keep track of how much you earn and what your outgoings are. Factoring how much tax you have to pay at the end of the year and making sure that is accounted for when you begin with your business. You don’t want to be stuck when it comes to the time for spying on your taxes.
Have you got your timeline in order?
Asking yourself when you will really be ready to get started on your business will help you to create a timeline and get yourself prepared to launch. One of the best ways to do this is to set a launch date for yourself and then create a to-do list or a checklist around that date. Putting a little bit of pressure on yourself and working to a deadline will help to cement your ideas and get you to logically work on them rather than simply talking about them all the time. Be realistic about the launch date and then plan around it. If that’s something your struggle with, then look at the bigger picture and get a date down for you to work towards.
Splitting your tasks up by order of importance and urgency will mean that you know what tasks need to most attention and what tasks you can complete in bulk during the day. By working to a deadline, you are working towards a set goal, and this may also help with your marketing plan too, especially if that includes social media. Generally working towards a set deadline will ensure that anything that you need to do, in terms of logistics, before your launch date will be done and will also give you time to explore your options for different parts of your business venture. Having a timeline for business doesn’t just have to be for the start of your venture, but can be for each long term goal and milestone you have when it comes to the success of your business.
These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself as a way to explore how your business will be run and to see if starting your venture will give you what you need. If by researching, you find any potential problems with your business plan or any issues that might come in the execution of your business, you can resolve them before launching. At the root for anything is research and ensuring that the time is taken to do just that will contribute to success in the long run for your venture.