You’ve got an idea. You’re raring to get started, bring some customers on and get the money rolling in! Starting a new business is easy right? Whoah… hold on just a minute… you could save yourself a lot of time, effort and money if you pause, take a step back, and objectively ask yourself the following questions. Doing this now can mean you adjust your angle of attack or tweak your idea for the highest chance of success.

Thinking of Starting a New Business – Ask Yourself These Tough Questions First

What Makes Your Idea Different?

Your new business needs to have a USP. You don’t necessarily need to be doing something super unique, there’s nothing wrong with a time tested business model but you do need an edge.  A new angle, a way of doing things better than will make your business stand out from the rest. It is the products you offer? Are they a little bit better and more aligned with the customer needs?  Is it your service? Can you do something extra special to provide more value or make your customer feel valued? Perhaps it’s the price? You’ve found a way of doing something at a lower cost, or you notice a premium niche and area increasing the product quality. Take some time to think about your true USP.  What will make you succeed where others have failed.

Can Your Idea Be Easily Explained?

This is a super easy trap to fall into. You have a great idea, you really think it’s going to work but you struggle to articulate the idea and can’t easily explain what it is. Of course, if you’re something like a dog walker this isn’t going to apply. You walk dogs… But perhaps it’s a product, a piece of software or a service that you think is excellent but you can’t easily explain what it is and it does.

If that’s the case you’re going to struggle. Customers aren’t going to hang about on your website trying to understand what your product is before they decide if they want it or not. Rethink what problem you are solving and explain it in a concise manner. “This does X, it helps you solve Y problem by doing Z, it costs W” eg: “Our flask keeps your drink warm and fresh for 4 hours. By using our patented heat grab technology it allows you to drink hot fresh coffee wherever, whenever. It costs just £9.99.”

Do You Have an Existing Audience of Target Customers?

This is an important one… so much so that we wrote an article about it a few weeks ago! The standard reply for many people starting a business when asked how they will get customers is simply – “I’ll run online ads”

Not so fast! Running ads is super competitive, can cost you a fortune and takes time to get right. There’s no doubt it can be very lucrative when mastered, but it does take resources.

You need to find the right audience and get your business in front of them. THEN convince them to read what you have to say, THEN convince them to part with cash…

Cold traffic as it’s known is a tricky place to acquire customers. Which is why having a pre-existing audience to sell into is so much easier;

If you’ve already got the attention of a crowd of people you’ve already won half the battle. 
Now you just need to focus on presenting the product and selling it.

Some examples of an audience could be subscribers on YouTube, a newsletter list, fans of your Facebook page, prior customers etc.

If you don’t have an audience of your own, how can you leverage other companies audiences? A trade magazine, a forum, a YouTube channel you could partner with to promote your service.
The audience doesn’t necessarily need to be yours but it helps tremendously if you have access to one somehow.


Do You Have the Capital and Skills to Execute Effectively?

You need resources, capital and time. You can substitute one for the other to some degree. Silicon Valley has a great reputation for throwing lots of money at a problem to fix it! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

It’s the same with time… you can put all your hours into a project, wear many hats and potentially grind your way to victory without spending much. Neither is a sure-fire way to succeed in business.

A nice combination of the two seems to be the best, but what’s most important is that you DO at least have one or the other.

Take time to think about how much money you will need to get things off the ground. Hidden expenses, obvious expenses and one-off purchases need to be accounted for.  How much time will this need? Be realistic, how many hours do you have in the day? No one is 100% productive either. Do you have the skills needed or will you need to hire to plug that skills gap?

None of these questions should deter you from starting something you love and swinging the bat. They are designed to just make you pause for a minute and consider if there’s anything else you need to do or focus on before you get started that will increase your chances of a successful outcome.  Because once you start and get that ball rolling you’ll be so caught up in the day to day running of things you might not get chance to stop and think. Good luck to all start-ups and entrepreneurs out there!