What are you looking for?
career 5 min read

10 questions to ask yourself before launching a start-up

By Joy Taylor 11 Apr 2019
Young entrepreneur looks at wall of sticky notes.

Between freelancing, the rise of entrepreneurship, and the evolving gig economy, the world of work as we know it is changing fast! As an entrepreneur myself, I’m passionate about helping people to understand what it takes to pursue their ideas and launch successful startups. While social media would have us believe that everyone can be an overnight success, the truth is, life as an entrepreneur can be much less glamorous and much more challenging than we’re led to believe. Is it worth it? Absolutely! However, there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge into the world of entrepreneurism.

1. Do you see a problem to solve?

You’re much more likely to create a successful business if you’re solving a problem for somebody, rather than trying to push a product or service that isn’t needed.

2. Is it something you are interested in?

You don’t have to love, live, and breathe your product or service, but you do need a keen interest in it to weather the storms of startup culture and have enough conviction to see your business through.

For example, I have a business that sells steel and associated products such as vermin proofing, insulation, roller doors, and windows. Do I love it? No. But am I interested in it? Yes. I have a home built out of steel, I like architecture and design, and I find the versatility of steel very intriguing. I don’t love steel, but I have enough of an interest to motivate me to successfully run that business.

3. Do you understand the market?

There may be strict policies or government regulations related to the market you want to operate in. There may be a lot of disruption happening within that market or large international players planning to enter that market in the future who could become your competition. You also need to understand your customers and find out what drives their behaviour.

4. Is there a gap in a niche within the market?

Is there a refined segment of that market in which you can see a gap that your product or service could fill? The more refined the segment and larger your point of differentiation, the less direct competition you’re likely to have and the more directly you can target your customers.

5. How much time do you want to make available?

Understanding how much time you’re willing to invest can determine a lot about how you approach and grow your startup. For example, will this be a side hustle to your full-time job, a job within itself, or something you gradually invest more into over time? Having your expectations clearly set from the beginning will help you to establish a realistic scope for starting your business.

6. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?

Do you want to earn an income by dedicating your life to solving problems you truly care about? Or are you just dreaming of working on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean?

To run a successful startup, you need to be 100% on the entrepreneurial bus from the very beginning and be willing to hang on; even when the road gets rough and it would be so much easier to let go.

7. What do you need to learn?

As a business owner you wear many different hats, from product development to financial management, to marketing etc. While you don’t need to do everything yourself, you do need to have a good enough understanding of the different elements of business that if you choose to outsource your marketing, for example, you still know enough to provide direction to that contractor and to retain control of your brand.

8. Do you have the traits of an entrepreneur?

As a business owner you need to have self-awareness and a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. In my experience, successful entrepreneurs are:

  • fiercely determined
  • unafraid to take risks
  • highly confident
  • eager learners
  • appreciative of the value of failure
  • passionate about their business
  • highly adaptable
  • financially competent
  • expert networkers
  • competent salespeople.

If you don’t possess one or several of these traits, don’t be disheartened. Becoming aware of your own opportunities for development means you can start to consciously cultivate skills and experience that will make you a more successful entrepreneur.

9. Do you have access to the capital required?

It does take money to start a business – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. It just depends on the nature of your business and how quickly you want to grow and expand. Either way, you’ll need access to capital, so if you aren’t flush with cash, consider how you can access funds and what you are prepared to give up in return.

10. Do you believe in your ability?

Self-doubt, imposter syndrome or whatever you like to call it, a lack of faith in your own abilities can be the biggest killer for your business success. You need to have enough confidence and resilience to back yourself through the inevitable ups and downs of owning a business.

Are these 10 questions everything you need to know to successfully launch a startup? Definitely not! But working for yourself doesn’t have to mean working alone. The entrepreneurial community is amazingly supportive and there’s so much to be learned from the business journeys that others have travelled. For support in understanding startup culture and launching your own business, view my Beyond the Books webinar ‘Secrets of a digital entrepreneur’, or connect with me via Canvas Coworking and on LinkedIn. The entrepreneurial bus is the ride of a lifetime and I’d love to support you to get on board!

For more advice to help you launch a successful entrepreneurial career, discover the 11 start-up mistakes you need to avoid or this article, which will tell you everything you need to know to become a successful entrepreneur or business owner. 

Author profile image of Joy Taylor