Whenever you start a business, you are already considering the question of funding, business model etc. But certain questions escape our subconscious. Yet, we cannot ignore them. Sure, your idea may seem like a good one now. But in the years to come, you don't want to tie it all up in a suitcase and keep it in a corner of your house. You have to weigh the Risk and the Reward.
There are some, who struggle with a business "on the side". They want it to happen slowly until it's big enough to sustain itself. But the most effective way to find out if your idea is going to work is to simply go all-in. Otherwise, you’ll never truly know. So, prep-up a sheet and ask yourself these 11 questions before its too late (in no particular order).
1. Why do I want to start a business?
Your business will be like your baby. You can't have one, without taking up its full responsibility. If you are just doing it because you hate your job or because everyone else near you is doing it, don't do it. Do it, because you are passionate, want to take risks, and have the acumen.
2. Does my business idea sell large enough people? Or Does my idea add value to a large number of people?
Ask yourself if your product has a mass appeal? Care to sell it to your relatives first, check out its cons more than its pros. Ask yourself, if a salesman comes at your home with the product, will you listen to him, or shoo him away? Try to understand the market problem, then address its gaps and niches. If your products fill the gap, you are in luck. (well, hard work, technically)
3. Can I see myself doing this for years?
Today, you will answer this question very enthusiastically. “Of course! I want to do this! Now and forever!”
But what happens when you see the highs and lows and the things that the business has taken away from you? That includes family time, steady income, vacations, etc. Here, I will tell you, that there will never be a time that your business will feel right. You will have fears and you have to know if you are ready to run this risk for a very long period.
When you want something badly enough, you make time for it no matter what. Starting a business is about your passions and excitement outweighing your fears and doubts.
4. Can I test-run the business part-time before quitting my job?
Facing risks makes people fearful. Especially when you are not financially independent, the fear doubles. Often, you can reduce the fear and feel better about starting a business if you have limits – firm, hard limits; limits that you write down and put right in your business plan. Or soft limits; where you can run the business side-along, and when the time looks right, hit the metal.
5. How much cash, time and energy will it take?
Beginning a business requires lots of time, energy and risks. If you thought that being your boss meant chilling to your heart’s content, you are in for a surprise. Your job demanded 8 hours of your day. Your company won't let you do anything less than 24 hours a day, even on weekends.
It will put a hole in your savings, meanwhile, you are forgoing a stable salary. You will be awake all the time, talking, pleasing people, waking up to 100s of queries (which may not turn into a business.) This is just the tip of the iceberg. So you should be prepared for all of this before you decide to startup.
6. Who else is doing this? i.e. Competitor.
You NEED to know your competitors, even if they are remotely related to what you do. You just NEED to. Not only do you need to understand your competitors so that you can understand the market, but you also have to track these other businesses and their activities. By conducting a competitive analysis with direct and indirect competitors, you can put your company in the best position possible to succeed.
7. What kind of people do I need for my business? Or What organization structure would I need for my company in the short term and long term?
Here, you need to ask yourself about the Human resource you will need. You, as an individual, can only do a job till some physical and mental limits. Your team should have all the necessary skills and that is why finding the right co-founder/employee is essential. Where an employee will treat it as a job, a co-founder will bring in skills as well as spirit (and money, of course). They should complement your skills and share your vision. Selecting the right co-founders is one of the most difficult and crucial steps in starting a company.
8. Have I researched the product market enough?
Whatever industry you pick, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of it. If you do not understand that industry, it is best not to enter that industry. You should always look as to how your education and experience can help you understand the industry better.
Knowing the industry will help you be better at bridging the gaps in the market.
9. Do I want to go back ever? Or Will I be motivated throughout?
Initially, you'll be juggling a lot of things, your mind will not wander. But when the initial months of excitement are over, you'll be marketing the product. It'll be tough to stay motivated then. Why? Because you let go off a lot of things to be a businessperson.
So, when you start thinking about your business, even in the very early stages, I would encourage you to start creating your business plan. Follow the schedule and improvise. When you want to go back, remember why you started.
10. Am I a better intrapreneur or entrepreneur?
I don't think a job does not need entrepreneurship. Take a look at Sundar Pichai. Did he build Google? No, but he made it what it is today. There is a mild difference between what you want to do, and what you can do. Weigh out your possibilities and make your trip as an entrepreneur (leadership rise, inside the company you are employed in); or entrepreneurship (your own business).
11. What sacrifices and risks am I ready to take for the business?
If you are building a business from scratch, it can be a huge time and energy sink. So, before you enter in, it’s important to be clear about the implications it will have on your life. Are you willing to put in the hours and energy, to suffer the ups and downs, say “no” to other things like time with friends and family or your hobbies? Make sure it’s worth it to you before you dive in.
Make a list of everything you have, you want and how that can help you; people you know, finances, skills, passion and anything else. You’ll be surprised to see yourself in the new limelight.