3 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Starting a Business (That Nobody Does)

Starting a business is, simultaneously, one of the scariest and most exciting things you’ll ever do – like riding a dipping, looping, 100mph rollercoaster without the safety harness. In the hopes of minimizing risk, you’ve probably put a lot of thought into the product or service you’ll provide. Chances are you’ve already designed your logo, read up on marketing, and possibly secured a loan or another kind of funding. All excellent, yet still not enough. According to the latest statistics, nearly 20% of small businesses fail within their first year, while 50% fail by year five. Knowing there’s a 1 in 2 chance their business with fail by its sixth anniversary might scare away the even most confident of entrepreneurs until they understand why.

Most people who start a business do so with a checklist similar to this:

  • Research
  • Plan
  • Fund
  • Location
  • Structure
  • Name
  • Register
  • Tax I.D.s
  • Licenses and permits
  • Bank Account
  • Open Shop
  • Promote

And, while every one of these tasks is necessary, none of them are as important as the 3 questions everyone should ask before starting a business – but nobody does!

Who’s Going to Help Me?

We’re not talking about employees, your spouse, your friends, or even your lawyer or accountant; ask yourself, Who is the experienced, objective, give-it-to-me-straight guy or gal helping me through the process of entrepreneurship? Right off the bat, having a business mentor increases your chance of success by 70%! Plus, it really is lonely at the top, and starting a new business may mean occupying the bottom and middle positions for a while too. Not having a boss, or gossipy coworkers, may seem like a dream come true – until month five of no potluck lunches, happy hours, or employee incentive programs. Working alone doesn’t negate the need for engagement and a mentor might just fill that void nicely.

Mentors also offer motivation and support, not typically found in solopreneurship, while their experience and coaching can help you avoid costly or detrimental mistakes. Having another person who’s aware of your goals and responsibilities also creates accountability and provides more valuable networking opportunities. Don’t have a mentor, get one here.

How Have Similar Companies Failed?

Almost everyone scopes out the competition before starting a business, but many do it for the wrong reasons. Of course, it’s important to see what businesses like yours have done right, but researching their failures may be the key to your success. Besides the valuable insight into how your target audience thinks, feels, and reacts to certain content, (while not being the originator if it goes south,) following the failures of your industry often creates a roadmap of the right way to go.

It’s amazing how many people give up just as they’re on the verge of succeeding, if you’re able to zero in on the final piece of the puzzle and implement it, you reap the rewards. Sometimes, figuring out what not to do or say – without suffering the consequences of the experience, can be a big bonus. Don’t just learn from your own mistakes.

What are My Weaknesses?

It sounds counterintuitive, but before starting a business – figure out what you’re really bad at – then hire to your weaknesses. Often, people hire others in their own likeness because it’s comfortable. Maybe you and your new employee can chat for hours, get excited about the same initiatives, love going out and partying together on weeknights, and have an equal knack for writing awesome blog posts.

That’s great, but who’s going to answer early morning phone calls, balance the budget, or design your new client’s brochure? You can’t do everything yourself, and you can’t do everything, period. Before posting an open position make a list of all the important tasks you hate doing, can’t do, or just can’t do alone – along with the qualities necessary to get them done – then hire the person who has them and can.

Thinking of starting a business or looking to market your company? We’d love to help! Contact us today.

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