5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

When I launched my business 35 years ago, I had a strong business idea and motivation to work for myself. I also had so many external challenges and worries facing me from the get-go. Could I do this? Should I do this? Do I have enough startup cash? What if I fail?

In today’s startup landscape, these are still some of the same basic questions plaguing would-be entrepreneurs’ minds. Have you had a business idea in the back of your head for years but haven’t quite figured out if it’s worth pursuing? Are you fearful of what being an entrepreneur actually entails?

Over the years, I’ve mentored countless entrepreneurs who, like me, wondered if they were cut out for this life. Launching a business comes with a fair amount of risk, challenges and headaches. But it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. In order to achieve self-employment success, it’s important to do some soul searching before diving in.

Here are five critical questions you should ask yourself to ensure you are ready to take the plunge:

Is there a proof of concept?

You think you’ve got a great idea. Your sisters’ brothers’ cousin thinks you have a great idea. But do you?

A proof of concept is meant to determine the feasibility of your idea and to verify that your idea will function as envisioned.

Does your target market have a need (or a want) for the product or service that you’re looking to launch? Have you performed market research? Involving potential customers in this early stage will allow you to tweak or pivot your concept for optimal success.

Are you able to demonstrate financial viability? Developing a successful proof of concept is a critical step, especially if you need to convince stakeholders (like investors) that your idea is worth pursuing.

Related: 10 Questions Every New Startup Founder Has (and Should Be Able to Answer)

Do you get along well with others?

When you launch a startup, you can expect long hours, tight budgets and lots of opinions. Are you prepared to navigate conflict with co-founders, employees or the webmaster you’ve hired to launch your site?

Whether or not you envisioned it when you decided to start a business, you’ve entered a new marriage. What’s true for marriage is true for startup team dynamics, as well: How productively do you debate? How will you foster effective discourse when disagreements arise?

Although diverse opinions and disagreements are uncomfortable, they can be managed if you are willing to put in the time to tend to these important relationships. Think about the culture you want to establish for your business and how you plan to facilitate healthy debates that lead to progress and consensus.

Will you jump in full-time or start a side hustle?

If you have the luxury of a large savings account or an angel investor, you may be ready to take the plunge.

Overall, 37 percent of Americans report having a side hustle.

Starting a business as a side hustle may make the most sense because you can test the waters while holding onto the stability of a steady paycheck. If you are currently working a 9-to-5, bookending your day with early morning hours and late evenings dedicated to your business is a common structure. Time management becomes hugely important to prevent burnout.

But the upside? The tipping point, when you are making enough with your business that it makes sense to put all of your attention to your new-found success. Worried that you’ll be burning the midnight oil long-term and won’t ever see that tipping point? Here is a resource to help you take that idea to income in 27 days.

Are you prepared for rejection?

Startups are not for the faint of heart. Rejections are an inevitable part of the process and can feel as cold as a door slamming in your face. We hear a lot about emotional intelligence these days, but how does it apply to a startup business?

Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill to channel during the sales process. The key is to understand why the customer is objecting and prepare responses for those most common objections, so you are better prepared the next time. Consider a “no” an insight into a pain point that you can try to solve. Look at rejections as opportunities to hone your message, adapt your sales technique and build up your confidence.

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Do you want to be a businessperson or an entrepreneur?

You may think the terms “businessperson” and “entrepreneur” are synonymous, but there is a big difference. When you’re focused on your process and your product, you’re clearly wearing your businessperson hat. However, when you’ve tapped into your passion, motivation, grit and ambition in order to start and build your business from scratch, that’s when you’ve truly entered the realm of becoming an entrepreneur.

Passion alone is not enough to sustain a startup, but it is an essential element during trying times when starting up your business. The three P’s: process, product and passion truly work together like a three-legged stool. Without one, the other two cannot function.

What are some other critical questions you asked yourself before starting your business? Leave us a comment below!

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