8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

Do you have what it takes to run your own business? Let’s find out.

Entrepreneurship is fun to talk about; it’s a lot harder to be about. The notion that you will be able to be your boss, create the hours and life you want and ultimately see riches beyond your wildest dreams draw people to start their own businesses. However, the reality is that starting your own business is one of the hardest things you can do. The fact that 8 out of 10 business fail within the first year shows two things: (i) creating a business is hard and (ii) entrepreneurship isn’t built for everyone.

So before you dive head first into entrepreneurship, ask yourself these questions.

1. Can you sell?

Here’s a reality of life — regardless of what you want to be in this world, at some point in time, you are going to have to sell.
Maybe it’s selling yourself to get a new job. Or selling something, like a used car or an old possession. Whatever it is, being a salesperson is a role we all play in life.

And whatever your new business does, it will involve you – the owner – needing to sell at some point. It could be a product or service to customers, or selling your business idea to an investor.

And yet, to many non-salespeople, the idea of selling can feel icky. We think we have to act fake, to be sleazy, to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do.

The reality is quite the opposite. The best salespeople actively work to solve a customer’s problem, and build lasting relationships through mutual trust and mutual benefit. Being a great salesperson isn’t about control and manipulation. It’s about having a genuine desire to help other people solve problems.

You need to feel reasonably comfortable at selling, and be reasonably good at it if you want to start and run your own business – regardless of what that business is. If you don’t think you can sell, then no problem – the art of being an effective sales person can be learned, and certainly improves with practice over time.

2. Are you willing to go without pay?

Or very little?

One of the popular misconceptions about having your own business is that it pays well. And though that may be true one day, it won’t be for a while.

Initially, your business probably won’t make any money, and when it starts to, you’ll want to reinvest profits into growth. If you are working alone on a business and you take all of the capital the business receives monthly, all you’ve done is created a nice job for yourself. Being an entrepreneur means reinvesting and focusing on growth.

3. Are you okay with investing your own money to get the business started?

Office space, employees, hosting fees, etc., they all cost money. Before you start anything, make sure you’re willing to put in some of your own capital into the business. If you’re going the investment route, many investors will want to know how much you’ve personally put into the company as a sign of commitment to your vision. If you’re not willing to invest in the company why should a VC?

4. Are you ready to be the accountant, lawyer, head of HR, customer service, etc.?

Your passion is what brought you to start a business. Your ability to adapt and take on new roles will be what keeps it alive. Starting a business means providing your service/product to customers. This will be what you’re passionate about and probably best at. It also means you’re going to have to wear several hats and some that don’t fit so comfortably. You will become the accountant, lawyer, head of HR and customer service, alongside providing your service/product to customers. Sure — you can employ or engage these roles later. But at the start, you’re going to need to deliver many of them yourself.

5. Can you fire someone?

Firing people sucks. There’s no other way to put it. However, it’s a part of running a business and a hurdle you must get over as your business grows. You need to be willing to have hard conversations with employees about their performance, and ultimately if you have to let them go.

6. Do you have patience?

Growing a company takes a long time and your patience will be tested. There is no get rich quick plan with entrepreneurship. It takes serious conviction and dedication to a long-term plan for your business and life.

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone

7. Are you self-motivated?
Being accountable to other people at your previous job could have pressured you to hit milestones, get to work early and stay late, and give your best effort. Now you will have to be accountable to yourself.

If you’re not self-motivated, then entrepreneurship will be short-lived for you. Building the business has to be your fuel, getting you up early and keeping you there late to do what needs to be done to make the business a success.

8. Are you willing to let your social life take a hit?

If you like happy hours and movie nights, then entrepreneurship might not be for you. One of the truths about building a business is that it takes serious time. You will be confronted with decisions daily on things like, “Should I go meet my friends at the bar or do another few hours of prospecting?” Your friends may not understand and pressure you to come out; you will have to learn to say no and double down on your business.

If you think you’re ok with all of the above, then starting your own business might just work out for you. If you do decide to go down the path of business ownership, then I’ll let you in on two truths: (i) you’re signing up for one heck of a ride and (ii) it’s all worth it.


By Andrew Wales.