5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

By Scott Vollero

It’s part of the American dream: running your own business. That’s an exciting proposition – and a very scary one, too. It is a thought that most of us have had at one time or another in our lifetime. When it comes down to actually doing it, however, there are a few questions that need to be considered.

Starting a business seems easy enough on its face. In fact, it seems like everyone around us is either doing it or talking about taking the plunge into running their own business. Before committing to the idea, take a few minutes to ponder the following points to determine if running a business is the right move for you.

Are you a self-starter who enjoys challenges?

When you run your own business, there is no boss to tell you how to handle situations that arise. There’s no top manager to tell you when things need to be done. When you accept the challenge of starting your own business, you have to be motivated to get started and keep the momentum going. The challenges of running a business should energize you, not drain you.

Do you have the skill set needed to run this type of business?

Having a great idea for a business isn’t worth much if you don’t have the skills to make the idea a reality. Being able to solve problems creatively is a must for a business owner. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses so you’ll know when to handle something personally and when to delegate. Take stock of the abilities you have to bring to the business and don’t be afraid to call in experts or outside professionals when you face a situation you’re not prepared to handle.

How badly do you really want to do this?

Running your own business requires a lot of hard work and effort. It can mean long hours and a long-term commitment. It will be more fun and hold your interest more heartily if it involves something you hold near and dear to your heart. For example, don’t start a cat grooming business if you hate cats. You have to be willing to learn skills necessary to make the business a success. Make certain you’re willing to devote the necessary time, and recognize the cost in personal time that comes with being the boss.

Is this really a money making idea?

Not all great ideas can be translated into a successful business. A good business idea usually addresses a need, an existing problem or a situation that a particular group of people or companies are forced to deal with. The situation has to be compelling enough to warrant the company or group spending money to alleviate or solve the problem. Come up with a way to test your market ideas before you get started to make sure there’s a profit margin to be had.

What would my competition look like?

You need to know who you’ll be going up against in the business world. Take the time to learn everything you can about the competition in your field. Anyone who provides similar products or services to the same customer base that you plan to target is a competitor. Looking at what your competition is offering can help you figure out what niche you can fill. Think about what you can offer that your competition can’t. You’ll want to make your services or products unique. Having something that the others don’t is essential to competing in any type of market.

Every great business had a starting point. The most successful businesses know how to appeal to their customers, and how to draw customers away from the competition. Think it through, set up a plan, then work toward making that dream of owning your own business come true.