You’ll have conversations with a lot of people before you open your own business. You’ll definitely speak to your family and your partner to ensure that you have their full support. You’ll speak to the most knowledgeable and honest of your friends, who’ll help you to sound out your idea and decide whether it’s a worthwhile pursuit. You might even speak to other business owners you know and get some starter tips from them, so you don’t start off on the wrong foot and doom your new venture before it’s even got out of the starting blocks.
There’s one more conversation you should be having before you make the decision to cut your ties with your current job and strike out on your own in the world, though, and that’s a conversation with yourself. There are some questions only you can answer, and you owe it to yourself to look yourself in the mirror and answer them before you proceed to the execution stage of your carefully-written business plan. Without any further ado, here are those questions.
“Do I Know My Boss’s Job Inside Out?”
Almost everybody reading this will have thought at some point that they know their job better than their boss does, and that they could outperform their boss in the same role. Some of you will have been correct in that assessment. Thinking you could do your boss’s job and knowing you could do it are two different things, though, and much of the time we don’t get to see everything our boss does – we only get to see the parts that affect our own job. The only way to know whether you’re better than your boss is to do your boss’ job. If you’re starting your own business, you’ll almost certainly be taking on all the responsibilities of your current boss has, and perhaps even your boss’ superior, if such a role exists. If you don’t have any experience of managing budgets or people, you’re not ready to start your own business, no matter how skilled you are. Get promoted first, get the experience, and then branch out.
“Is My Business Idea Future Proof?”
How well do you understand the current trends within the business area you want to work in? More importantly than that, how well do you understand what’s likely to change with those trends in the future? A sudden change in technology could make your business obsolete overnight. Twenty years ago, opening a casino was a surefire way of making money. Now, physical casinos don’t make as much money because mobile slots websites or their sister sites offer players more choices, and often better chances of winning, too. The internet existed twenty years ago, and so the creation of mobile slots should have been foreseeable. When the internet arrived on mobile phones, mobile slots were obviously round the corner, but many companies still didn’t heed the warning. A few years from now, it might be the case that vegas slots are replaced by virtual reality casinos. What future technologies could impact your business, and how do you propose to mitigate those risks?
“What Problem Does My Business Solve?”
Great businesses solve problems that exist either within a service, or within wider society. All the best start-up companies of the past ten years have been solutions to problems. What problem does your business solve? It doesn’t have to be a major problem – for example; a low-cost travel company would solve the problem of some people not being able to afford to travel. For the customers of that company, cheap travel would be a must, and the company is the only place they can find it. Without a problem to solve, there’s no need for your company to exist at all. Whatever you’re selling – whether it’s a service or a physical product – there has to be a target group of customers who will view it as a ‘must-have.’ If it’s only a ‘nice to have’ your business idea probably isn’t strong enough, and you’ll likely find you don’t attract enough custom to keep the business running.
“What Am I Willing To Sacrifice To Make This Work?”
Running a successful business is enormously rewarding. Getting a business to the point of being successful is enormously difficult. Unless you’ve had the greatest business idea in the history of the world, and have an immediate route to implementing it, you’re going to have to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life to get there. This is inevitably going to involve some sacrifice. What’s your limit? Are you prepared to give up all the time you spend with your friends? Are you ready to pass on vacations for the next few years? Could your relationship stand spending less time with your partner? If you have children, could you cope with seeing them less because you’re working long hours? Are you happy to give up on luxuries so you can pump all of your money into the business? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ then don’t do it.
“Whats My Backup Plan?”
Nobody wants to think about this question when they’re in the middle of setting up a business, which is a big mistake. This is the most important question of them all. Even with the best planning in the world, it’s possible that your new business just won’t work out. Most of them don’t. Planning for failure is not the same thing as planning to fail – it’s quite the opposite. Planning for failure means you immediately know what to do next if things don’t pan out as expected. Would it be possible to return to your current job if you’re able to part on amicable terms? Would the experience you accumulate in the process of running the business qualify you for a senior role elsewhere? If so, where? Can you put some money aside for the eventuality of the business falling through, and trust yourself to spend it only to support yourself after the business has failed rather than throwing it into a failing business? You need an exit strategy and a means of survival outside of the business during your first few years of trading. It’s your safety net. Once that’s in place, you can trade without fear.