The 5 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Start a Business

So you want to start a business. What an exciting time! But it also can be a bit scary and overwhelming. So we’ve compiled five important questions you should ask yourself so you’re prepared. You may not be able to plan for everything, but this is a good foundation to build on as you get started.

1. What are my goals and how do I plan to reach them?

Remember how in Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which way she should go? The Cheshire Cat answers, “That depends on where you want to end up.” You need to know where you want to end up, and then have a plan to get there. If you don’t have goals or a plan to achieve them, you’ll end up wandering around, stumbling over the many obstacles that come with starting a business.

So before you jump in, make sure you set specific goals for the short term and the long term. Have goals for one month, three months, six months, but also three years, five years, etc. With your goals clearly outlined, you can create a plan to guide your business along the way.

2. What laws do I need to know about?

Breaking any laws when you’re trying to start a business is a pretty bad way to get started, so make sure you know what you need to know. Some of the things you should consider are:

  • Your business’s structure (partnership, LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship)
  • Registering the name of your business
  • Getting the necessary permits and licenses
  • Business tax planning

Make sure you know what you’re getting into so you set things up right to begin with.

3. Do I understand the financial commitment of starting this business?

One of the biggest concerns you have when starting out is money. You may be leaving behind a steady paycheck and the start-up costs may be a lot, so make sure you understand what the financial implications will be for you.

You may need to keep working full or part time while you start your business on the side. Or perhaps you’ve saved up for a while so you have a financial reserve before you start. Maybe you plan to borrow the funds you need. Make sure you know what your plan is. It generally takes a while before you turn a profit, so be prepared.

4. Do I have a support network?

In the words of German writer and statesman Goethe, “Let not the solitary man think that he can accomplish anything.” In other words, you don’t accomplish anything alone. Even if you’re the sole proprietor, you’ll really want some sort of support network so you can succeed.

This may include family and friends, coaches and mentors, or anybody else that will help you along. Your support network will play many roles from cheerleader when you need an extra boost to devil’s advocate when you need to see things from another view. They’re there to consult with and get the moral support necessary to help you succeed. Make sure you have them in place before you get started.

5. Do I have what it takes?

When it comes down to it, not everybody has the personality traits and habits such as self- discipline and commitment to be a successful business owner. So do you have what it takes? You can learn these traits with the right drive, but if you’re not fully dedicated, you can’t just float by. So take stock of what you’ve got going for you and learn what you need to improve on. Communication, dedication, self-discipline, drive, measured risk-taking, and passion all play a role.

These five questions are a good place to start—you may come up with a few other questions to answer, which is great. Before you start, you need to consider all the possibilities. Then you’ll be prepared and you don’t need to fear. (And keep coming back to our blog for more great tips for small business owners!) Good luck getting started!