- Khawaja Saud Masud
7 Questions To Answer Before Starting A Business
Prepping for your venture
As you drive home, elated about the prospects of finally launching an Italian restaurant with your childhood friend, you are already mentally drafting the second paragraph of your resignation letter. For the last three years, you both have vented about quitting your mundane 9-to-5 jobs to live your entrepreneurial dream. Your real estate agent cousin also promised to help you find a great location in the heart of the city at a favorable rent. Today is the day you both sense a breakthrough. No more stalling. No more second-guessing. As an accountant, you are good with numbers and your friend is a brilliant cook — its a match made in enterprise heaven!
Of course we are getting ahead of ourselves and clearly enthusiasm re-calibration is needed because reality, as we know very well, is not ready to hand over the keys to our imagined kingdom so fast.
Too often, especially first-time entrepreneurs, succumb to the natural tendency of jumping into underestimated scenarios with both feet and a fast-beating inspired heart, not thinking through the ‘post-jump’ consequences.
Here are 7 questions aspiring entrepreneurs should address before embarking on their enterprise journey — a foundational framework for building clarity of thought and conviction in the plan. There is sometimes a fine line between success and failure and these questions are intended to make this line more distinct:
1. Why do you want to start a business?
Are you seeking personal freedom or financial freedom or both? Is this venture a sidekick that will supplement your income from the full-time job or have you placed all your bets on this one idea and your family is dependent on the venture’s success? In other words, how high are the stakes?
The higher the stakes the stronger the why.
Here are some sample ‘whys’ from a recent workshop I conducted:
“To develop my cooking hobby into a passion and a career. My job in marketing is uninspiring but I come alive in the kitchen — I am a different me. I will dedicate at least 1 year to plan and save for the venture and then hopefully never look back.”
“To generate at least 3–4x more income as compared to my current role as a gas station manager. I am confident I can run my own station and also offer QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) services. My challenge would be a significant time away from family, but we are collectively prepared to make this sacrifice for the next few years.”
“I am genuinely unhappy in my current and last few desk jobs — its a feeling of rotting away. I consider myself an independent spirit who is most fulfilled when traveling around the world and living minimally. I want to become a travel blogger. Its a risk I must take now, or I am afraid will live in regret.”
“My workplace is great, but I know I can earn more in a month. I want to utilize my weekdays from 5pm to 9pm daily and the weekends by starting a small side business. It doesn’t have to be something terribly demanding but just a way to generate additional cash flow that can pay the bills.”
“My father’s pension is insufficient, and I need to take care of both aging parents and my younger brother. I have tried to secure public sector employment but failed. Private sector jobs don’t pay very well with little to no long-term financial security. I just need to rely on myself now and make it happen.”
There are no right or wrong whys. Write down your why. Save it on your smartphone. Print it and paste it on the wall somewhere visible. Its a reminder and a propelling force needed during the dips of your journey.
2. What is your businesses’ value proposition?
Simply put, this ‘what’ is more of a ‘why.’ As in why should someone pay for your product or services over the competition?
Hence the question you need to answer is what do you bring to the market that customers consider a viable solution at a reasonable price? For example, a group of young men shared their mobile pet grooming idea at one of my business creation workshops. Their surveys revealed nearly 45% of their respondents were interested in client-site pet grooming services. These potential customers did not want to deal with the hassle of driving to a vet or pet store for regular cats and dogs grooming needs and also preferred the pet to be comfortable in its familiar home setting. The value added, therefore, is home service since most competitors are not offering it.
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