The following article originally appeared in the August 2011 edition of The Myers Report newsletter published by the firm.
Ten Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business
By: Jane M. Myers, Esq.
OK – so you have to take a double dose of Dramamine just to follow the stock market. House values are shrinking, gas prices are rising, unemployment is growing, morale is sinking. More and more vacant city lots and suburban front lawns are being converted into vegetable gardens – sustainable living . . . by necessity, not choice.
But . . . there’s one GREAT thing you can say about the economy. It sure has sparked a lot of creative thinking. People figure things can get worse so why not try something new. Entrepreneurship and start-up businesses are at an all time high.
We’ve had many clients who have opted to put their energies into doing it on their own. Some want to continue in their line of work but be their own boss. Others envision coming up with the next “billion dollar idea”. While there are many success stories (Apple, Facebook, Google) there are many more ideas, really great ideas, that have died on the vine. Whether you plan on creating the next Microsoft or a business that will provide you with just enough income so that you can comfortably retire in the next few years, there are specific steps that must be taken to give your idea the best possible chance of succeeding.
What we urge you to do – before quitting your day job and investing your life savings in the “best idea ever” – is to be as sure as you possibly can that your vision can be transformed into a profitable and sustainable business.
To do this, we recommend dissecting your business concept by asking your self some hard questions.
Here is our list of Ten Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business:
- What does your product or service look like?
- Who wants your product or service?
- Will it be able to compete successfully in the marketplace?
- Is it a real business opportunity?
- How will you deliver it?
- What value will your product or service provide for your targeted customers?
- How do you stack up compared to your competitors?
- How are you different from the competition and how will you emphasize those differences?
- Does your business idea stand the test of time or is it vulnerable to market shifts and trends?
- Why would anyone want to join your company? What would make them excited about the work?
(Hint: When you answer Question 10 . . . keep in mind that people want to feel they’ve gotten more from their work than just a paycheck. They want to feel that work has purpose and that they’ve contributed something that matters to them. If you don’t create that environment, your business will never reach its potential.)
If you can’t answer each question with a rock-solid positive response, go back and revise your business vision before telling your boss good-bye.
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Please note that this article is intended only as a general discussion and that it should not be taken as creating an attorney-client relationship or as legal advice with respect to any particular person, business or situation. Circumstances and the applicable legal principles vary and you should consult with an attorney and/or other professionals regarding the facts of your particular situation.