Here are a number of important questions for you to answer before you pursue a particular opportunity or go any further in starting your small business:
1. Do I like the idea of this business? You must enjoy the business because you are going to be spending quite a lot of time working on it. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you won’t enjoy succeeding at the business. This is a very important question to ponder.
2. Do I want to spend my days pursuing this business? It sounds like the first question but it is not really the same. Start to think about the mechanics of these businesses.
3. Will you really like pursuing this activity?
4.Will you enjoy the nitty-gritty of it?
5. Would you rather be an owner, but not an operator of this business? Could you hire someone to do the work for you and you just book the accounts and collect the money?
6. Do I have the space available to conduct this type of business? Do I have a room or workspace set aside? Could I rig up space in the garage, attic, basement?
7. Will my neighbors complain if I run a business from my apartment? You can always call the local town hall and ask. Many towns now have brand new regulations on home based businesses in residential areas. Many are now perfectly legal. If you’re in doubt, check it out.
8. Do I have any type of experience in this business? Many small businesses don’t require experience or skill to start. Others do. One wouldn’t want to start a business offering computer lessons if they just purchased their first computer, right?
9. Do you have what it takes to run this business? Are you starting a business that involves talking to people a lot? Are you prepared for this and for dealing with the public?
10. What type of interests or skills do I have that could translate into running a small business? Do you work as a chef in a restaurant? You could start your own or open a catering business. Do you love holidays and gift giving? You could start a personal shopping service or launch a gift basket business. Do you love children? How about a day care center? Use your imagination. No one can tell you what business you can best start and run. That’s up to you.
11. What types of businesses are needed in your community? Is there an errand service? Could your neighborhood use one? Are there businesses that would use your errand service? Are residential customers a possibility? Could you start a food delivery service, delivering meals-to-go from already established restaurants who don’t have the time or the inclination to deliver their own fare? You could start a business providing this service. Ask yourself: what is needed in this region and could I do it?
12. Where should I look to find a need or a niche to fill? Take a drive or take a walk. What’s missing? Gee, the civic center is busy all weekend, but there’s no place to have lunch. Could you buy or rent a food cart and set up shop there? Could you establish a business distributing fliers for other small businesses? Where would you distribute these fliers? What are some good, heavily trafficked areas in town? What about the zoning board? Can you distribute fliers on cars in the local mall?
13. Do I have the discipline to run a business? Would I make a good employer, or should I remain an employee? You’ll have to file documents, pay taxes, handle insurance, write letters, hustle, generate business, and then some. Are you ready for this experience?
14. Should I start from scratch or buy a business? You can buy an already established business, but it won’t be on a shoestring budget! You can also purchase a shoestring operation in the form of a business opportunity, but remember, let the buyer beware! Know what you are sending for before you part with your hard earned money. At the end of this section, we present 10 ways to check out a business opportunity.
15. Should I think about taking on a partner? There are a lot of reasons to turn to another individual to start a business. Maybe you have a friend in mind with whom you could start a business. Maybe he or she offers something you can’t really bring to the table, such as accounting skills, computer skills, wacky ideas or an uncanny ability to deal with people.
Think about taking on a partner if you think you can work with this person and view them as a partner in the sense that you will be wedded to your business partner for as long as you have the business. It’s an important step to take, so tread lightly. Once money gets involved in a friendship, it can often mean the end of a meaningful relationship.
16. What is the economy like in my area? Ask yourself how others are doing and if they have the money available to support your business venture. If you live in a depressed economy, then opening a thrift shop for baby clothes would probably work well, whereas designing custom kitchens and bathrooms on your computer would not work well. What can your market support?
17. Do I have enough money to support this type of business? Yes, you can start a business on a shoestring, but what if the business doesn’t take off immediately. Do you have some money saved or a means of support until the business takes off?
18. Is my family, spouse, friends supportive of my small business venture ideas? It helps if you have support from loved ones, but if they play the role of naysayer, go for it, if you believe it is a good idea and can back it up with research.
19. Am I ready to leave my current job and take the entrepreneurial plunge?
20. Where do I see this business in five years, in ten years? Look at the big picture and explore your options, your true interest in the business, and create a business plan to get there.