A lot of entrepreneurs may tell you that having a business is the best way to have savings. Sure, it’s easy if you think of it. But certainly, it’s easier said than done. Businesses are not as simple as they seem. But if you feel in your heart that you’re ready to take the plunge, well, don’t dive head first. Before anything else, here are five big questions to ask yourself when starting a business:
Okay, this is the most basic question. Why? Why do you want to start a business? What can you get out of it? Your WHY may be an idea that you always saw having potential, or a cause that you strongly fight for, or even a passion that fiercely burns inside you. Maybe you just can’t think of working for anyone else and you want to be your own boss. Maybe, being an entrepreneur is a lifelong dream that just needs a kickstart.
You may have a lot of reasons. But let me tell you this: you actually only need ONE, and this reason must be so strong that whatever storm you encounter, you will not falter. You can’t just say, “Oh, I hate my job. I’m just going to open up a business!” or “Hey, everyone else is doing it, so I’m joining the bandwagon!” If this is your reason, then I’m sorry to break it up to you but your business won’t last long.
2. Do my current circumstances support me starting a business?
This question may have already crossed your mind a million times. Of course, in order to open up a business, you have to shell out money – it may be from your personal savings or a loan. But what happens after? Will you still have enough savings to live on until your business starts producing?
To answer this, you need to sit down and take an honest look at your whole financial state. You can’t take on a journey if you don’t know your starting point. You have to know your assets, and I’m not talking about your cute face or six-pack abs. I’m talking about what you own, like a house, car or some pieces of jewelry. These will come in handy during the hard times. But, if you really think that your savings aren’t enough before your business becomes profitable, then working on the side isn’t such a bad idea.
Another thing to think of is having enough time to set everything up for your business, especially if you’re still working. Will you finish on time? Doesn’t that spell “no sleep” since you need to juggle making all the preparations for your business while having to go to work from 9am to 6pm?
Actually, the outcome of this situation all depends on you. It is given that you will be sacrificing some things along the way – missing on parties, having to rely on replays for your favorite TV shows, and yes, you will lose some sleep. But you just have to manage your time wisely. Know what time you’re mentally at your best. Don’t force it after 10pm if you’re a morning person. You don’t need to overwork yourself because, at the end of the day, you’re still a human being, not a robot. Adjust your timeline if necessary.
A side hustle is also a good thing to consider. This may be difficult especially if you’re working full-time. However, this will allow you to “test the waters” and see what can work and what will not for your business. Once you feel that you’re ready to go all out, then you have your side hustle to thank for giving you the experience.
Now, I’ve been talking like you have to do all these things on your own. But really, if you need help, then go for it! You always have your family and friends for support. Perhaps your best friend is just as interested as you in selling homemade chocolates, or you just don’t know it but your father is willing to help you out in your gym business. You wouldn’t know if you wouldn’t ask, right?
And yes, behind every successful student is a good mentor. In your case, you need one too! But if you do not have a mentor right now, then don’t fret. While some mentors are found in person, others live online. There are those who do online mentorship or you can contact some on social media. Joining classes or groups and attending industry meet-ups and business events are also good ways of finding the best teacher for you.
3. Do I have a clear goal and a strategy to achieve that clear goal?
You may have already heard of the SMART goal which means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. But do you know that there is also something else called a CLEAR goal? According to Adam Kreek, one of North America’s top Management Consultants and Executive Coaches, a goal must be:
• Collaborative – Who is on your team? Who supports your team? Who are the stakeholders and customers? Why do these collaborators matter?
• Limited – When do you start and stop? What geographical and personal limits exist? Is your goal realistic?
• Emotional – Does your goal feed your needs and serve your purpose? Why are you doing this?
• Appreciable – What smaller goals can be broken down by your large goals? What can you do next that requires the smallest and most obvious action?
• Refinable – What can I do to refine and modify my goals as new trends arise?
Once you’ve set CLEAR goals, it will help you know where you are going before you start your journey.
Still, clear goals are not enough. You need a strategy to achieve such. After all, activity without a strategy is aimless, and a strategy without activity is useless. Frankly, I can tell you a lot of strategies. But perhaps the most important for me, aside from making a realistic plan of action, is having self-discipline. When you have this, anything is possible. Trust me.
4. Is my business idea viable in the long term? In other words, do people want what I have to sell?
Business is nothing when there are no customers. Thus, you need to know if there really is a market for the business that you’re planning. I know this sounds very school-y, but you need to conduct a market research. This will help in providing information like what industry areas appear to be expanding and declining so you don’t end up opening a new business in a field that isn’t thriving and stable anymore.
A market survey is another tool for you to project realistic sales, which will help you find people who will buy your idea. Start by finding out the market limits or physical boundaries of the area where your business will likely sell. Then, look at the spending characteristics of the population within that location. This shall give you an idea if your business is in the right place.
5. Do I have the strength of character, the resilience, the energy to make this happen?
The beginning is always the hardest phase and you have known it from the start that starting a business is bloody hard work. But let me tell you again and again that once you have a WHY that is super solid, then that resilience will show itself spontaneously. You’ll see yourself getting back up again after taking the knocks repeatedly. Despite the disappointments, setbacks, and frustrations, you’ll remain determined and focused on your goal.
As Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. Don’t be afraid to start somewhere because one day, you will get to where you want to be.