When people dream of starting their own business, very often they think of the Donald Trumps and Bill Gates of the world: Business people who have reached the pinnacle of success and who are wealthy beyond imagination.
But how exactly did these business figures actually reach that kind of success? We see the outcome of their success, but not many of us are aware of the blood, sweat, and tears successful business owners invest before they make it to the top.
Before you throw in the corporate towel and follow your path to riches, you need to think long and hard about a plan of action. Following a dream to be self-employed is admirable, but without a plan and a support system, you will set yourself up for failure.
These are the top five questions you need to ask yourself before starting your own business:
1.) What target market or niche do I want to serve? Choosing your target market first is important because, in order to become successful, you must know your customers’ likes, dislikes, and needs. Think about what target markets you belong to yourself and how you could fulfill a need or provide a service. Whatever niche you choose, be sure that you enjoy and care about the people in that market.
2.) What product or service should I offer? As you acquaint yourself with your target market, you will discover certain needs that aren’t being fulfilled. Or maybe your chosen group needs the next best product you have to offer. If you want to offer a service, ask yourself if you have enough training to do this for a living or if you need to take classes.
3.) How will I fund this business? Home-based service businesses are relatively easy to start with limited funds. However, if you open up a storefront or manufacture a product, financing becomes much more important. Decide how much you can afford to invest from your personal finances, ask your banker if you qualify for any loans, or seek investors.
4.) Can my family survive financially until the business turns a profit? Very often a small business will not turn a profit for at least one year, sometimes two years. What is your plan for feeding and clothing your family during that time? Do you have enough money saved to pay your rent or mortgage during that time? Do you have a nest egg to pay for unexpected emergencies?
5.) Do I have the time and determination to make this business a success? You wanted to be your own boss, so now you are the one solely responsible for all the marketing and sales. Are you ready to commit to 12- to 16-hour days? How will this affect your family? Is your spouse supportive of your efforts?