Embarking on a new startup venture will be one of the most exciting and life altering journeys one can undertake. While the media often portray new startups as being “overnight successes”, this is few and far between, and the reality is that a successful business venture more often than not, will take many years to turn a profit.
Despite the masked journey to success, entrepreneurship is essential to society. Through creative innovations and pursuits, entrepreneurs provide solutions to daily problems, as a result, the world requires more and more entrepreneurs.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur it has never been a better time to pursue those interests further. It is now possible to embark on a business venture online with very little capital, making business ventures much more affordable today. Starting a website business can be as simple as buying a domain name, a template, and obtaining hosting.
This combined with the sheer amount of tools and resources at our disposal means that we can tackle a lot more tasks ourselves without the need to invest in the skills of others initially. Meaning that in some instances, it is now easier than ever to get a business idea off the ground.
Launching a website in the past would have involved finding a web design company to completely design and build your website, which was usually followed by a hefty fee. Today, due to the abundance of tools and resources available, such as WordPress, literally anyone one can get their basic website up and going themselves without the outlay of large amounts of money.
Additionally, it has also never been easier to work with talented individuals located anywhere in the world. If you need someone with a specific skill set but there’s no one in your vicinity, you can reach out online and work with someone on a project even if they’re on opposite sides of the world. All you need is an internet connection. This is extremely useful in overcoming previously insurmountable obstacles and also gives you a lot of options when it comes to taking on people.
This sounds exciting and even though the barrier to entry doesn’t seem so high anymore, you need to make sure that you’re the right type of person to start a business. It takes a particular mindset to be able to create and maintain a startup. Therefore, there are many questions to ask yourself before you start your business.
1) Can you work alone and take responsibility?
Starting a business venture will mean that you will no longer have a superior or manager observing or supervising your work. There is no longer someone directing and controlling your activities on a daily basis. While this can certainly be one major bonus of going out on your own, you are now responsible for managing all activities and finding suitable team members to assist you in achieving your business goals.
The majority of individuals would like to work for themselves rather than being held accountable to someone else every day, but the reality of the matter is that sometimes it’s necessary. When running your own business, you will be responsible for managing your own time and motivating yourself to get the work done. You will need to ensure that you are being productive and properly managing time. In addition to mastering these skills, there’s no guarantee of a paycheck at the end of the week.
Starting your own business requires a lot of responsibility, effort, commitment and hard work. This should be weighted against the benefits of not working for someone else. Running your own business can truly be a rewarding process, but considering whether it is right for you and your objectives, will play a fundamental role in its overall success.
2) Do you want a business or do you just want money?
There is a tendency to view business ventures as a means to making large amounts of money, and while this can be the case, it rarely happens quickly. Often times it requires years and years of effort and hard work. Many startups operate for years without even break even, let alone making a profit.
The purpose of this question isn’t to break your spirit, but rather to really distinguish between illusion and reality, as we have a tendency to overestimate the positives while underestimating the negatives. By asking yourself what it is you really want from your business can really help prepare you for any obstacles or tough times that you may face in making your startup work.
Most entrepreneurs operate on fairly tight budgets and if money is your main motivator, this can be a disheartening time. While money can certainly be a valid motive and the main motive for a lot of business owners who desire financial independence, it is essential to accompany it with another motive or reason. By pursuing something that has meaning and value to you, you will find it easier to get through the difficult times. Otherwise, it may be too tempting to give up when the going gets tough.
3) Can you handle stress?
Stress is an inevitable part of any entrepreneur’s journey, and therefore this question may be one of the most important that you can ask yourself prior to startup.
The life of an entrepreneur requires many, many hours of hard work. There is just simply not enough in hours in the day for an entrepreneur. There will be many days where you will have to put in long hours, not to mention periods of high pressure to meet deadlines and land key clients.
These will be typically evident in the earlier stages when the role of the entrepreneur ranges from emptying the bins to meeting with potential investors and clients, but this hard work and long hours continue to exist throughout the business lifecycle, therefore, it is important to establish an appropriate way to relieve stress and maintain a healthy balance between business work and other commitments.
Obtaining finance and making decisions while facing uncertainties are just some of the ongoing situations that can contribute to a business owner’s stress levels. A business will inevitably experience ups and downs throughout its life cycle, and more often than not, many face emotional and financial turmoil at some point.
As a result, you are likely to lose sleep and experience higher levels of stress than usual. Running a business may, unfortunately, require you to miss out on key family time and events. It is very important to consider these things and ask yourself if you are prepared to risk missing these events or losing sleep. You need to consider is this lifestyle for you? Strength and confidence will ultimately lead you to success
Stress can be one of the main reasons why many startups don’t succeed. People often fail to consider the impacts of large amounts of stress on their overall being which can, in turn, harm their health for a considerable amount of time. Therefore, before you launch your startup venture, it’s important to consider whether or not you can handle large amounts of stress and uncertainty.
It is also important to make sure that you have adequate procedures in place that help you keep your health under control and in check. By developing an understanding of yourself and your limitations, you can take a proactive approach to help minimise the effects of stress on your health and effectively relieve stress when it arises. Regular exercise, taking breaks, balancing family life, changing bad habits and meditation are commonly used by entrepreneurs to help reduce stress levels and ensure the pressures of running a business does not consume them.
4) Can you handle rejection?
Rejection is something that every business owner will experience again and again throughout their journey. It is inevitable. Whether you’re looking for finance from a lender or seeking potential investors, rejection will be part of that journey. Others will not always see your idea as clearly and confidently as you do. The most important thing is not to let rejection affect you.
Before you start your business, it’s important that you consider how you handle rejection and failure. Neither will be the end of your journey, and perhaps you may never experience either. The important thing is to try to learn something from it. Find out what they didn’t like or why they didn’t want to pursue your idea further so that you can alter or adjust your plans. Identify those areas you may need to improve on.
Feedback is crucial to stepping forward. Use rejection as a means to motivate yourself to push forward and improve.
5) Are you willing to learn?
Continual learning and self-improvement is a fundamental element of the entrepreneurial journey. From the very beginning, you will be learning. As your market and customer needs change you will need to as well. Your business will be constantly changing and adapting to its surrounding environment. This is essential to fuel growth and expansion of your business. If you stand still you are actually going backwards.
The key to success often correlates with your ability to continually invest in yourself and your abilities. Knowledge is a fundamental element of a startup’s success. It is important to keep up to date with industry trends and changes by attending courses, trade shows, networking, attending seminars, reading etc.
6) Are you a leader or a good manager?
There are people who are great leaders and people who are great managers. It’s not enough just to be a good manager. Good leaders have big ideas combined with the ability to communicate those ideas effectively and convincingly to others both inside and outside the business. Through their enthusiasm and passion, they have the ability to inspire and encourage others to follow them.
Leadership is an essential element of a successful startup. Entrepreneurs need to be able to lead, inspire and motivate those around them. Developing a good understanding of yourself will help your confidence and better your ability to attract customers and tackle the unknown.
7) What are your strengths?
A fundamental factor in any entrepreneurial journey is to identify your strengths and then surround yourself with people who compliment them. Knowing your strengths will enable you to capitalise on them while also allowing you to build a team of individuals who are stronger in other areas. This ultimately allows you to better exploit opportunities and execute your business strategy effectively. An important factor to success is surrounding you with the right team members.
Your ability to delegate work will also play an important role in your startup journey. All too often owner managed businesses adopt an autocratic approach, whereby they feel they cannot delegate work to others. Entrepreneurs who know themselves are not afraid to delegate and say no when something exceeds their limit. Your ability to accept advice and important from others helps develop a stronger leader and better tackle any business problems that may arise.
“Know your strengths. Know your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to try things and fail if those failures will teach you what your strengths and weaknesses are. And when you try again, build your business around the strengths! The more you “know thyself,” the closer you’ll be to success.” – Kevin Harrington Inventor of the Infomercial, As Seen On TV Pioneer, and Shark Tank
8) Are you prepared to take a risk?
Starting your own business will involve some risks. These may include losing your savings, giving up your regular paycheck, relying on regular cash flow and entrusting key employees.
Many entrepreneurs use their own personal savings to fund their startup which means dipping into their personal savings or even depleting their safety net completely. Other business owners obtain some or all funding externally. Whatever is the case, securing a regular and stable cash flow can be very difficult, especially in earlier years. As a result, bills can mount up quite quickly, which may necessitate the need to dip into emergency funding. This is something entrepreneurs have to be prepared to do.
In addition, no matter how much planning and research a business owner undertakes, people are inevitably unpredictable. This can turn a once sound plan upside down and throw off your entire projections and business model.
When you embark on your new business venture you will inevitability have to place a substantial amount of trust in your few employees who you will be relying on to deliver the required results needed to achieve the business objectives. While at the same time, attracting and retaining these keys employees, particularly, where specialists skills are required, can be difficult. Running a startup will require you being able to attract and inspire these individuals to join your team.
Advice from Entrepreneurs
We recently put the question: ‘What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to first time entrepreneurs?‘ to users on Quora. Here are some in-depth answers from the people who have been there and done it.