So you want to start your own business.  Ask yourself 10 Questions…

You have been thinking about setting up a business for a while, the idea is clear in your mind and you are super excited.

Before you get carried away with what to call your business and what you are going to spend your first million on, stop and ask yourself some critical questions before you get stuck in.

1. How committed am I?

Commitment comes from motivation.  Ask yourself what is my motivation? It could be financial, it could be making a difference to the world, it could be about personal growth but it needs to be real and something you are truly passionate about.

2. Am I 100% clear on my business value proposition?

What value will I be providing the customer? Why should they spend time and money on my product or service?

3. Am I clearly able to communicate my value proposition in three simple sentences that everyone can understand?

Whether you call it an “elevator pitch” or not, you need a brief, persuasive speech that you can use to spark interest and summarise what your product or service is all about.

Try it out on friends and family.  People shouldn’t need to ask questions to understand it, they should grasp it straight away!

4. What differentiates my product or service from the competition?

You should have a good awareness of your competitors; What are their strengths and weaknesses? Why should a customer should buy from you instead?

5. Can my business make money? Does the commercial model work?

Not every business has ambitions of being the next John Lewis or apple, but you need to think about your commercial model and what happens after the end of year 1. What are the difficulties and potential costs involved with scaling up your business? Do you know what comes next, what will it need, suppliers, premises, assistance, distributors, sales staff?  Your pricing and margins need to accommodate this.

6. How are people going to know you exist?

Starting a business can be expensive and with limited cash you don’t want to be spending money on press advertising and editorial – but you need a sound marketing plan to ensure you get those first precious clients interested

7. What is my appetite for risk?

Balancing risk and reward is a tricky business.  Ask yourself, how much am I prepared to lose, be it time or financial?  How dependent am I on other people’s actions and commitment?  How integral are those people to my success?  Are they a risk or an asset?

8. What is the best way to fund my business?

Investigate all options.  Investing your own money, shows commitment and other people will expect that, it’s easy to spend someone else’s cash!  There are lots of brilliant grants and funds available but you need to do your research and dig deep.  “Friends, family and fools” is a great starting point when it comes to raising capital if you can encourage people to believe in your dream and share the success.  Crowdfunding can be a great way to go to get that injection of cash but you need to be prepared to share your success.

9. Am I going to outsource the right tasks?

 Although it is tempting to think you should do as many tasks as possible and keep costs down, there is that phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none”!  Doing what you are really good at and outsourcing tasks that can be done quicker and better to someone else is smarter in the long-term.  It could take you several months to build a website and not only will it take up all your time and energy, it may not be fit for purpose or a great reflection of your business.  It is the shop window to your new baby.  Let someone else do it quickly and effectively, while you concentrate on what you’re really good at.

 10. Am I passionate about this business?

Ask yourself how excited are you about you product or service?  Would you buy it? Would you recommend to a friend? Are you proud of it?

Small business is not for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and persistent. It’s for the overcomer.” 

You NEED to be passionate and enthusiastic!

About the author…

Katie’s background in business consultancy gives her an innate understanding of the challenges facing SME’s. Her strategic approach and problem solving abilities lead to quick and effective results.s.

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