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Questions to Ask Before Starting Up a Business

Updated on September 12, 2012

You have a great idea for a business and are ready to do just about anything to make it succeed. The business seems flawless and there is nothing holding you back! What should you do next?

First, slow down a second, take a deep breath, and ask yourself some questions.

Starting a business often involves a bit of money (more than one may originally realize) and requires a significant commitment of time, energy, and follow-through. Often, those of us who have the most ideas for new business ventures also have the worst follow-through. Before becoming gung-ho over something that you will drop in a couple of weeks, spend some time determining if you actually have the motivation and abilities needed to make this business a success.

Ask yourself and ponder your answers to the following question set and it will help you tremendously in determining if you should pursue this business concept. Had I asked myself these questions before my first attempt at business, I would have saved a lot of lost time and money (of course, nothing that helps you learn is a waste).

Make sure to examine these questions. Do not permit your discretion to be glazed over by your excitement for the new venture. Remember that there is always another great business idea around the corner, if this is not the one for you, another one will come shortly.

Questions About the Business Idea

Asking some serious questions before starting a business is incredibly important. Many business ideas fall apart with little pressure. The most important thing you can do is develop a solid business plan. However, these questions can assist you in determining the success of your idea.

Can your business be explained in a 30 second elevator pitch?

If you can explain the business and capture my attention in 30 seconds, your business is much more likely to succeed. Because you will need to describe your business to future clients and investors, it is essential that you can explain what you do in a short amount of time.

How will the business make money and what has to happen for it to become profitable?

I had a great idea for a website, but no clear way of how to make it profitable. This ended with me gaining a decent number of users, but being unable to make my website worth the time I invested into it.

Know how you will make money and how many sales or services must be rendered to make your business financially successful.

Is there a demand for this product or service?

There are many crazy products being sold in the world today - most of them nobody needs. Nonetheless, there must be a demand for the product or else the company will fail. Study the demographics of your potential clients to ensure that there is actually an interest in the service you are providing.

Will it be the best?

You must provide the best in some form or another. Whether it is the best quality, best price, or best location - there must be a reason that people would purchase your item as opposed to someone else's. An idea with mediocre drive will get you no where. Someone will not buy gas from your station if it's $.25 cheaper across the street at a better known station. Make sure that you are offering something incredible.

What are the costs to start the business?

How much will you need for rent, equipment, inventory, incorporating, any legal fees, taxes, shipping, etc.? Determine how much money you will need to launch your business and operate it until it becomes profitable. Then, take this number and add about 25%. You will likely need at least this much money to survive starting up.

Although a good idea has plenty of potential for finding funding, it is important to make sure that you do not end up with a half built tower and no way to finish it.

Is Starting this Business Right for You?

What makes a job worthwhile to you?

See results

Questions About Yourself

Not only is it important to evaluate the business idea, but it is also important to ask yourself questions about whether or not starting this business is right for you. An idea can be fantastic, without being fantastic for you. Determining if you are right for the business is just as important as determining if the business idea is a good one.

Do I love the work I will have to do to start the business?

If you have a great idea for a new restaurant, but hate cooking, then you are going to be incredibly miserable - and your business will inevitably fail. When starting out with your own enterprise, you will be spending an exorbitant amount of time working. If this is not work you love, you will be praying that your business fails so that you can escape.

Do I possess the most essential skills for the business to succeed?

The reason that my first website business failed was because I had it programmed in a complex language and I know nothing about programming - that means that every single change had to be done by someone else. Firstly, I had to describe in detail what I wanted. Secondly, I had to pay for even the smallest changes.

If you need a complex website created, a novel dish cooked, or any other skilled activity, make sure that you or a partner possess these skills. Outsourcing the most important part of your business can only get you into trouble.

Do I have the needed time and passion?

Starting a business will take a lot of work. Don't quit your job on just an idea. Keep your paycheck until you are making enough money with your business to sustain yourself - if at all possible. It would be no fun to be forced to drop the business right before success because of a lack of time or financial resources.

Does the business provide me with personal value?

Work is a huge part of one's life - especially as an entrepreneur. Is what you are doing providing you with personal value? In other words, will you feel like your time is well spent with what you are doing?

I determine value by whether or not an activity is fun, educational, and beneficial to society. For an activity to be worth while, it must have one, if not all three, of these traits. Life is too short to not enjoy and embrace every moment. Make sure what you are doing adds excitement to your life, prepares you to keep making the world a better place, and adds to the lives of others.


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    • ercramer36 profile image

      Eric Cramer 5 years ago from Chicagoland

      Great ideas! Those are all great questions to ask.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I go to a lot of startup networking events where EVERYONE has a business idea and is eager to share it. A lot of the people I've spoken with could benefit from asking themselves these questions. Good Hub!

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      That sounds like a great idea! I will certainly read up on some of yours and place some links where appropriate. I'm all for sharing readership!

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      You're welcome. I would like to link to this hub from one of my business planning hubs. May I? And I hope you will consider linking to some of mine. We could help a lot of people together.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Great additional questions Sid. It is true - we need to be sure that we will be okay even if the company fails. Thanks for adding to the article.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      This is a great initial set of questions. I would add a couple more, for those who really want to succeed and like tough questions: 95% of all new businesses, with ideas just as great as yours, with commitment just as great as yours, fail in the first five years. If yours fails, where will be? Are you okay with that? And, what makes you different from 95% of everyone trying to do what you do?

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @PosseSocialMedia: Thanks for the comment. It is true, so many of us start with no idea of what is going on. If we read up a bit first, we can save a world of hassle.

      @Emma Harvey: Yes, starting a business is a huge commitment, thanks for your comment and I wish you the best in your endeavors!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Good advice for those thinking about starting a new business. There is a lot to consider and devising a business plan with all the details and queries can help.

      It can be a huge commitment but hopefully worth it in the end - great hub :)

    • PosseSocialMedia profile image

      PosseSocialMedia 5 years ago from Charlotte NC

      Lots of folks try to start businesses but have no idea what is involved. Thanks for a great article!