In a previous post I talked a little about the importance of being honest with yourself as you undertake any business creation.
For the solo entrepreneur, especially (because you are the business), it is critical that you begin on solid ground – not taking anything for granted, not overestimating your abilities, time you’ll have available for the business, or your customer market potential.
You can’t afford to keep a closed eye to any one of the many business realities that can be evaluated up front so you don’t lose a lot of time or money traveling down a dead end.
By asking questions at the outset, you are forced into analyzing, researching, and evaluating the information at hand in order to come up with honest answers that will lead to your business being planted on solid ground.
Otherwise, you may cripple your business output at a later time because you ignored, or chose to “skim over” some critical details that might have influenced your decision to even move forward at the outset.
Sometimes, the realities ignored or not uncovered, can be fixed later on – but often at a great cost in time and money.
My experience is this: as a solo business owner, it is best to go into your new venture with very few surprises lurking in the shadows.
You will avoid a lot of patching up later, second-guessing, and looking over your shoulder for the next unpleasant reality to hit if you try to anticipate the variables of your operation honestly at the outset.
There are many questions you can jot down on a business “to know” list in the beginning. Here are just a few to get you started.
1. Why am I going into business? What do I expect to gain? How will I know when I’m successful? What kind of monetary return am I looking for? How long do I expect this business to last? What is my exit strategy that I’m putting into place?
2. What do I know about this business? Am I qualified or can I become an expert in order to provide my clients with valuable information, products or services?
3. How much personal investment am I prepared to make in this business? (Think time, money, stress, late night and weekend hours, time away from my family or other important activities, etc.) Opportunity costs are always an important consideration for any major undertaking.
4. What is the specific targeted prospect pool like? What is the level of competition for my service? What kind of loyalty, or “hold” do my direct competitors have on the customers I am going after?
5. Is this business legal, ethical, moral, etc? Are there any problems or existing stereotypes with this niche, or is it a field that attracts scam artists and low-lifes? (If you sell a bulk mailing product or service, for example, are you ready to deal with those that consider you a spammer already?)
6. Does this field require any special training, degrees, credentials, or licenses? If you are going to recommend investments and securities, for instance, are you properly licensed?
7. What are the barriers to entry in this field, if any? Do I have products or services that are not easily knocked-off (cloned)? (By the way, the more your information business includes personal insights and experiences, the fewer competitors you’ll have stealing your ideas and going up against you in direct competition.)
8. Do I have sufficient material and ideas to carry me beyond the first few years of product or information development?
9. What will it take on a daily basis to manage my business and am I prepared to give that kind of persistent day-to-day effort?
10. What will it cost to market my business? (This is an extremely important, but tough question to answer. It’s very likely your business success will depend on your ability to understand the truth about this question.) As all business owners understand, marketing can be a seriously large black hole where dollars evaporate into thin air!
Marketing is everything in a small business.
Understand that the more specific you can be in your questions above, the deeper you will be forced to research and evaluate up front in order to find “good” and sound answers . . . probably a very good thing for your peace of mind and the business bottom line later on.
To your online business success,