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Copyright © 2012 Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College

Questions to Consider before Starting a Business

Why are you starting a business? The rewards of starting a business can be great, but think realistically about your skills, personality and determination which will be needed to cope with the many challenges that lie ahead.

What skills do you need to have? Identify your skills and honestly assess your weaknesses. Ask for input from professionals and unbiased individuals. Interview small business owners.

Is there a strong market for your product or service? Researching your target market will help you determine if your product or service has potential. Is this product or service saleable online?

How strong is the competition? Assess the competition's strengths and weaknesses. Determine what is unique about your product or service and continually research on how to keep up with or surpass your competition.

How will you fund your new business? Present your lender with a well thought out and well researched business plan and request sufficient start up funds making sure that you provide for any contingencies that might arise during the first few months of operation. Even the best ideas do not make a profit right away.

How will you structure your company? Will your business be a sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability partnership or not for profit. Determine the obligations and responsibilities for each one of these structures.

Why is a business plan necessary? A formal business plan is required when you are seeking funding. A business plan helps you to focus on your goals and ensures that you concentrate on business priorities.  A business plan is recommended even if you are not seeking funding.

How will you staff your business? Choosing the right employees is an important decision, since you want employees with the right skills and you need to "click" with the people who work for you and establish common goals.

Who will you go to for advice? A trusted professional advisor (accountant, attorney, business advisor) can make the difference between success and failure. You will need objective opinions to make your business a success.

How can you prevent failure? The biggest causes for failure are setting unrealistic goals, not researching your market, hiring the wrong staff and not having enough contingency funds.

Remember that failing to plan is a plan to fail.