Recently, someone asked me what I would counsel them to consider before starting a home business. As I thought about this, I came up with five questions I think everyone should ask themselves before they start a business (or blog):
1) Am I Truly Passionate About This Idea?
If you want to be successful, your business idea must be your own. It can’t be a great idea that someone else told you that you should do.
It needs to be your brainchild, something you are wholeheartedly excited about and in love with. Because, believe me, you’re going to need that passion on those long and hard days when you feel like giving up.
I’ll never forget an email I received a few years back. It was someone I’d never heard from before and it came very out of the blue. They told me they wanted to start a website, but they couldn’t come up with a name. They said that they figured I probably had some good name ideas so could I please tell them what I thought they should name their website.
While I love helping budding entrepreneurs and try to answer as many questions emailed into me as I can, I knew that it would just be wasting my time to give this individual a name for their site. Why? Because they didn’t appear willing to work hard to see their idea succeed.
If they had emailed in with a list of ideas of possible names and a succinct vision for their site, I would have done my best to respond and give input. Instead, they wanted me to tell them my idea so they could use it.
If you’re wanting someone else to give you a big leg up with getting a business started, I can almost guarantee you that you’re not going to be successful. Because successful business owners take initiative. They are out there putting in the back-breaking personal effort to make things happen. They aren’t expecting someone else to spoon-feed them their success.
2) Who Is My Potential Customer?
When I was recently putting together my book proposal for the book I’m currently writing, one of the exercises I did was actually create a fictitious person in my mind that this book was written for. I didn’t go so far as creating an actual name for her, but I wrote down how old she was, what her personality was, how many children she had, and more. This might seem a little over-the-top, but it really helped me to solidify in my mind who I was writing for, once I’d created a sort of face for my audience.
Before you can create a marketing plan or a vision for your business, you need to have a good idea of who you are trying to reach out to. Because you’ll want to take a completely different approach if you’re trying to reach teen guys versus middle-aged moms.
3) Can I Afford the Start-Up Costs?
I believe strongly that you should never go into debt to start a business. Otherwise, you’re beginning with a noose around your neck.
If you don’t have the money needed for the start-up costs, I suggest that you either go back to the drawing board and downsize your idea, or that you save aggressively for six months or more in order to have the cash necessary to cover all of the start-up costs. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to cover the first three to six months’ worth of costs with your savings, without even making a dime of profit.
Not only will this cushion relieve a lot of stress that is often involved with starting a business, it will also allow you to invest some or all of your initial profits back into the business. This will give you an even stronger foundation for your business.
4) Have I Done Enough Research?
Most people are so eager to jump ahead and start the business that they don’t take enough time to really do their research. I recommend that you read at least 10-20 business-related books (here are 7 books I recommend that all work-at-home moms read) before you start a business. These will help you shape your business from the get-go and will also cause you to analyze your plan and preparations to make sure things are solid.
I also recommend that you talk to every person you know who has started a business or who works in the field or industry you’re wanting to go into. Tell them about your business idea, ask them for input, and pick their brain on the lessons they’ve learned along the way. This counsel could prove invaluable. Truly, every great idea I’ve ever come up with has been initially sparked by something I read or someone I talked to.
Once you’ve begun your business, don’t stop reading and growing as a person and a business owner. Challenge yourself to read at least one new business or leadership book every month, subscribe to a magazine like Inc., follow blogs like MichaelHyatt.com, and listen to podcasts like the EntreLeadership podcast. Always be experimenting with new ideas and never allow yourself to grow stagnant or content with the status quo.
5) Am I Willing to Fail?
If you jump out there and start new things, you are going to fail at least some of the time. Expect to succeed, but willingly accept failure. Not every business idea is going to be a homerun. In fact, most of them won’t be.
However, success is almost guaranteed to those who are willing to try, try again. Even if your first or third or fifth idea doesn’t work, you’ll eventually land on something that will be a success. Don’t give up!
What questions do you feel are imperative that someone should ask before starting a business or blog? I’d love to hear your thoughts!