The questions you need to ask before starting a business

You’re an entrepreneur and you have plans to start a new venture. You’ll need courage, determination, hard work, skill and a little bit of luck to succeed, but you also need to ask yourself some tough questions before you even begin. LEAP provides you with seven questions you should answer before you take your first step.

1. WHY DO I WANT TO START THIS BUSINESS?

It’s essential that you look at your motives, as these dictate the launch and growth of your business. You need a powerful motive to get you through the difficulties of starting a new business, so think hard about what you want to get out of it. Do you want independence, money, a challenge or are you trying to make a difference?

2. DO I HAVE ENOUGH CONFIDENCE TO TAKE THE RISK?

Entrepreneurs will often not get it right the first time, or at the very least experience many ups and downs along the way. How will you react to setbacks and potential failure? Start-ups require hard work and even with careful planning, things might still go wrong. With the huge risk that comes with starting your own business, you need to decide if you’re resilient and persistent enough to chase your dream.

3. CAN I MAKE THIS COMMITMENT?

Entrepreneurs work hard because they’re working for themselves, and nowhere is this more evident than with a start-up. You have to commit long hours to get your project going, and this could last for years. To make this commitment, you have to sacrifice other responsibilities, whether it’s with your family, friends or community. You’ll need the support of those who will be most disrupted and you need to decide if the change to your lifestyle is worth the risk.

4. HOW WILL I SUPPORT MYSELF?

Overnight success isn’t unheard of, but it’s fairly rare, and often a start-up will take years to turn a profit. While you aren’t working and earning an income, how will you support yourself or your family? Can you survive on your partner’s salary? Can you cut your spending habits? You will need to take an in-depth look at your financial situation and discuss the worst-case scenario so you’re properly prepared.

5. WHAT PROBLEM AM I SOLVING?

This is a vital question to ask yourself, as it’s essential that you understand what you’re selling before you try to sell it. Is it a unique concept? Is it a money-making idea? If your product or service is already established in the market, you’ll have a tough job competing against it. For a chance at success you must find a gap in the market and then sell enough of your product or service to make a profit.

6. DO I HAVE A MARKET?

It’s very hard to get people to part with their money, so customers need a compelling reason to do so. Conduct market research to establish your target audience and then come up with a strategy for how you’re going to reach them.

7. WHAT IS MY BUSINESS PLAN?

If you want to apply for a loan, this will be the first question your bank will ask you. Take the time to create a comprehensive business plan, including your goals and expectations. When you have a clear vision for your start-up, you’re more likely to reach your goal.

Being your own boss can be very rewarding, but it’s not the right decision for everyone. By answering these questions honestly, you’ll be in a better position to understand if you’re ready to start a new business venture.

At LEAP we provide entrepreneurs with business support, professional advice and reliable suppliers, to help the business get off the ground. For more information and to see how we can help you, call LEAP today on 011 449 7974 or visit www.leapco.co.za.

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