Congratulations! You’ve decided to start a small business. Have you already quit your “day job” and jumped in with both feet? Let’s hope you answered that question with a resounding no. Hold off on that until you’ve done enough prep! We’ve consulted the experts, so let us step you through the essentials; here’s 14 questions to answer before starting your business.
First things first
Let’s assume you have a strong business idea and you’ve defined your unique selling point.
Of course, your business idea doesn’t have to be 100% unique. Let’s face it: few ideas are. It could be that you have a unique take on something that already exists. That’s great.
You’re now ready to flesh out your idea. To help you, we’ve broken that process down into 14 steps. Whether you write bullet points or a short story is up to you, but be brutally honest with yourself as you answer the following tough questions.
The 14 questions
1. What are you selling? Is it the solution to a problem; a fantastic experience; something that will benefit your customers or their family and friends; make life better, easier; or is it purely something really beautiful?
2. What’s the “value” of your product or service? Bet you hate wasting money, and I bet your customer feels the same way. That’s why you need to provide them with great value. However, we’re not talking purely about the dollar value. The “value” might be something as simple as time saved, a problem solved or an outfit completed. Whatever it is, the ability to tell the customer what value your business will bring to them is vital.
3. Now, with value in mind, would you buy your product?
4. Let’s talk numbers: how many other people – be honest now – would be interested in your product? Who is your target market – your consumer?
5. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer, how much would you pay for the thing you’re selling?
6. Will you earn a living from you business when you consider all of the costs that go into producing and delivering your product?
7. What’s your revenue model? Is it realistic?
8. Looking at your competitors, what’s your point of difference?
9. Where are you going to sell your product? Bricks and mortar? Online site? Socials?
10. Do you have an advertising and marketing plan?
11. How big do you want this business to be? Will it be a one-person operation? Are you going to scale your business at some point?
12. Do you need finance to get started? Maybe you need investors to help get your business off the ground, or are you going to bankroll the business yourself ?
13. Have you thought about how long it might take to get your business off the ground? Why not consider having enough savings set aside to keep yourself going while you establish your business.
14. What sort of business person are you? One who’s happy to be in the trenches or are you only about the ideas? Eek, someone else can do the dirty work! If it’s the latter, you may want to stop right now: life in the trenches is what being in business is all about!
Sorry if we’ve freaked you out. Deep breaths, you’ve got this … read on.
Seriously, if you’ve managed to answer most of those questions – even if you feel a little nervous about a couple of things – and you still feel passionate about your idea then, bravo, you’re ahead of the curve.
By now, you’ve probably already done a business plan and can make a start.