Deciding to start your own business is big step, and one that requires a lot of upfront research and constant questioning. And, even as you move forward with the process of launching your business, the learning never stops.
In fact, it’s likely that asking questions and remaining committed to learning about your industry will give you a leg up on the competition, helping you to achieve steady growth and refine your brand immediately out of the gate.
Having owned and operated multiple businesses, I’ve developed a list of go-to questions that have helped me pursue worthwhile business opportunities while walking away from others.
The below questions are meant to help you navigate the beginning stages of business ownership to help determine where you want to be and how to get there.
Is your workspace configured properly for your business type?
Many don’t realize this, but the property you invest in is crucial to your company’s success. If, for example, you decide to build a brick-and-mortar location from the ground up, be mindful of future business growth.
If 2020 has taught us anything, you need to build in room to pivot or diversify. Almost immediately after opening our franchise laundromat location in October of 2019, I realized the demand and potential for offering services beyond self-serve laundry. For us, that meant revamping our drop-off service by adding mobile pickup and delivery options. And while traditional laundromats are filled with self-serve machines from top to bottom, we knew drop-off and pickup or delivery was on the rise, so we chose to carve out several sections of our property with the intent on developing that part of the business. Now, our wash-dry-fold accounts for 30 percent of our total revenue.
What level of involvement are you looking to have?
At one point or another, entrepreneurs will have to roll up their sleeves and perform jobs they thought they wouldn’t have to. But, early on, entrepreneurs should start immediately thinking about what level of involvement they’re looking to have down the road and start scaling accordingly. When you’re ready to grow your business, hire people to help you so you can play less of a role in day-to-day operations. This will allow you to simultaneously start or invest in other ventures.
The earlier you start planning for the future, the smoother the transition will be, especially if you hire someone early on to understand every inch of the business just as you do. The last thing you want is to have all of the day-to-day operations and decision-making tied to you, making it more difficult for you to pull away and strategize, grow or make other plans.
What kind of impact will your business have on the community?
Instead of merely asking what opening a business will do for you, ask yourself what impact your business will have on the local community. What purpose and value does it bring to local residents in your area? Are you fulfilling a demand? Does the demographic in your area match those of your business model and target customer base? Location is key in success, and these are important questions to pose before you lock in a location to start your business.
For example, in our case, community is vital considering most of our customers live within a few square miles of our facility and if we’re able to get people in the door, close to 90 percent of them become repeat customers.
Once you determine what impact you have on the community, double down on creating the best customer experience in town. As your reputation for excellence grows, so will your customers.
How can you expand beyond your core customer base to generate more revenue?
For businesses with a traditional brick-and-mortar facility, location is critical. However, don’t let those four walls hold you back from growing even more. There are always ways to bring in additional streams of revenue, whether it’s giving your business an online platform to bring in sales or taking it mobile.
For example, the increased popularity of third-party food delivery, online shopping and product subscription boxes amid the pandemic told a tale we couldn’t ignore: we needed to go mobile. Now, we’re the first WaveMAX Laundry location to be piloting a mobile pick-up and delivery and we’re working to roll it out across all 18 locations this year.
Always be thinking about your customer’s current and future needs and how you can adapt to meet them.
While it’s incredibly important to remain present and strategic when it comes to building the foundation of your business, don’t shy away from asking forward-thinking questions like:
- What will my impact be?
- How involved do I want to be?
- Can I grow in this space?
Asking yourself these types of questions will help you map your company’s growth and keep you on track for years to come.