Entrepreneurship is an essential thing we should be concerned about within this day and age—for us, our children, and grandchildren. Robots are taking over the majority of the jobs and careers many of us were brought up striving for. If you don’t have the inclination to start a business-post 2020, your financial future might be at risk.
Global circumstances are driving us all into entrepreneurship, but do any of us really have an idea worth putting the time into making it a reality? Being able to confidently launch a business requires more than securing funding, burning passion and complete skills. It requires you to research and ask the important questions upfront, before putting all your eggs into a single basket.
Here are 12 burning questions to ask before launching your startup idea:
1. What problem or need am I solving/satisfying?
Ideas are just ideas without the ability to solve problems—and attract paying customers in the process. If you can’t envision and write this down clearly and concisely, leaving nothing open to interpretation, you simply don’t have a good startup idea at this point. Keep researching and asking questions of your ideal customers until things become clear.
2. Who is my ideal customer?
You’ve identified a problem you can solve or need you can fulfill. Now, figure out where your ideal customer lives and works, how much money they make, how many kids they have, etc. Forget about effective marketing or attracting investors if you haven’t niched-down your demographics to a point where you can practically knock on your ideal prospect’s front door!
3. How many benefits can I list for my product(s)?
You might have identified the business as a viable idea with legs. However, you can’t sell a product without any benefits. The more of these you can put to paper, the more likely your vision will be validated when you push it out to market.
4. Do I have any idea what the selling features are?
As with the previous question, if you don’t know the features of your product that will be most desirable to users, you have a lot more thinking to do before putting together a business plan or taking out a loan. A smartphone can’t be smart if it doesn’t have a fast processor, tons of ram, or the ability to download apps.
5. Am I a front-runner, or has this been done/tried before?
It’s scary when creating a market all on your own, with no previous data to bolster your vision. History can teach an entrepreneur a lot. If your idea has been done before, take the time to closely examine what was done right and what could have been done better. This way you’ll make fewer mistakes and be able to corner the market with smart changes to previous failures.
6. If it’s been done before, what makes me different?
In other words, how are you going to make a case for buying your product over the existing competition? For instance, it would be pointless to release a product that works just like Tylenol if you can’t offer additional benefits such as zero digestive upset, or something similar that improves upon what exists already.
7. Who is my competition?
Many an arrogant entrepreneur has thrown caution to the wind, acting on a startup idea without a care in the world about who their competitors are. This might seem like the variety of boldness required to succeed, but it’s just foolishness personified. If you’re going to build, say, the best video game system on the planet, you’ll need the cash, talent, and tactics to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and all the independents out there making gaming software that works seamlessly on desktop and mobile devices.
8. Is this idea something that can be copy/pasted easily?
If so, how can you insulate yourself from the competition? Features, benefits, service level, price, etc.? Virtually anything can be copied unless you have proprietary data or skills, or access to manufacturing methods and suppliers not available to the average entrepreneur that afford a massive competitive advantage.
9. Can anyone I know help you or offer advice when needed?
If not, as the old saying made popular by the board game Monopoly says “Do not pass go, do not collect $200!” If you don’t have the resources to launch the company and get advice when things don’t go according to plan, or worse, go miserable and seemingly irrevocably off-course, it’s simply not worth attempting to launch at this point. Consider things like time, money, facilities, equipment, people with essential skills you don’t have, and all other factors related to the required resources.
10. Is it affordable for me to market-test this idea in beta mode?
Beta testing is almost never cheap, as you need to give away your product in order to get the valuable feedback needed to validate and perfect your idea. It’s easy to reach out on social and set up an opt-in lander to validate market interest in your idea, but you still need to get something built or be able to provide free services to figure out if this baby bird is ready to fly! The product doesn’t have to be polished, but it has to show promise to attract customers.
11. How will I scale this after launch?
You’ll need a means of mass production and have some initial distribution channels nailed down rather quickly if the idea takes off. Entrepreneurs who scale on-the-fly without a growth plan end up experiencing more hiccups—setbacks, expenditures, pressure from investors and competition, and often end up disappointing customers who have their wallets out because they aren’t prepared to scale as demand grows.
12. Am I ready for all this?
In other words, it’s the gut-check time! After all, you’ve learned after answering the following 11 burning questions, are YOU capable of putting in the money, time, work, and able to stand up in the face of the inevitable frustration that will come from running with this idea—and not giving up? Only you can answer that question, and you won’t know if you’re right until or if you make it through.
The 12 questions listed on this page certainly can’t guarantee anyone’s success. What they can do is help you to determine just how prepared you are to actually launch the business, giving you the confidence and knowledge to push forward in the challenging and tumultuous times that are sure to lay ahead.