8 Questions For All Future Entrepreneurs
On average 80% of new businesses fail within their first few years and some even before that. Some entrepreneurs can learn from the mistakes of the past and adjust their strategy. Some of the most famous entrepreneurs you know failed before they succeeded. Thankfully, they stuck to their gut and reviewed their plans and thinking processes to get it right in the end. Thomas Edison, for instance, tried to invent the light bulb a whopping 10,000 times. He encountered many failures before he made it work, but the journey was for him a long and ultimately fruitful learning process. Another famous name, Steve Jobs, is rarely associated with failures. However, Jobs was fired from Apple company, the business he had co-founded, before being called on board again. During his time outside of Apple, Jobs rediscovered his sense of creativity and inspiration, which made Apple the successful company it is today. Even Henry Ford failed when founding automotive companies twice before he finally made it to success with Ford Motor Company. In other words, successful entrepreneurs embrace their failures as an opportunity for self-improvement. But they can only do so because they ask themselves the right questions.
Do You Know How Much Your Business Will Cost?
Right at the beginning of your entrepreneurial quest, you need to understand that launching your own business comes at a cost. Indeed, for many newcomers to the world of entrepreneurship, the primary trigger to switch from life as an employee to life as an employer is the desire to work for yourself. You don’t want your hard work and efforts to go into someone else’s pocket; you want to benefit from your professional expertise. For many, the need to become independent is often exacerbated by an unpleasant boss or a hectic workplace. One day, suddenly, you decide that you can’t carry on like this. However, before you pen your resignation letter and start your own company, you need to figure out how much it is going to cost you. You’ll need a rough approximation of the cost as it will determine the best financing strategy for your needs. However, you will need to research your idea and market to define the most relevant list of costs you can expect. Entrepreneurs who don’t invest enough time in the research phase often find themselves out of pocket from the start.
Do You Have The Skills To Manage Your Business?
Starting your own company can be an appealing escape from a bad boss. But if you don’t understand what it takes to run a business, you might rapidly struggle to keep your employees onboard or the company afloat. An entrepreneur needs to overcome a variety of challenges in the market, the workplace and the overall business structure. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve planned your strategy; problems and obstacles are part of your everyday job. Without analytical skills, you can’t figure out which data is the most relevant to your company, and therefore you can’t take the best-informed decisions when trying to navigate troubled waters. You need a problem-solving attitude because in the long term it’s your ability to adapt to the market changes that gives your company a competitive edge. For a lot of entrepreneurs, motivation and passion are often used as a replacement for business skills. Ideally, you need a combination of both, relying on online courses to boost your business knowledge if necessary. The University of Redland’s MBA program offers a perfect overview of business management, decision making and analytical skills, for instance. You can’t underestimate the value of operative knowledge on your path to success.
Do You Understand People?
With a diploma in your pocket and freshly learned business skills, you might believe yourself above criticism. The truth is that knowledge of business management is necessary, but it’s not all it takes to turn your company into a success story. The most critical asset in a company isn’t your business idea. It’s the employees. A good entrepreneur is therefore someone who understands people. You can’t lead effectively if you don’t have the essential people skills. And people skills, as it happens, are not the kind of things you can learn from school but you can develop them and introduce positive social habits in your behavior. The leader is at the head of the business; your role is to get your team to engage with your vision so that they can work together for a shared goal. For this, you need to master the art of communication, which means you need to know when to listen and when to speak; nobody wants a leader who doesn’t care about anybody else’s opinions.
Do You Know Your Market?
Almost half of all failed entrepreneurs wished they understood their target market. Not knowing who your audience is is not only the number one cause of failure in a business, but also the most costly mistake in a company. Your marketing campaigns, your offering, your in-house expertise, everything is out of sync with the reality of the market when you skip the essential market analysis. The market analysis is not a quick task you undertake to add to your business plan. It’s the Ariadne’s thread of your company. Knowing who you are trying to sell to ensures that you get the most effective marketing targeting strategy. Indeed, when you know your demographics, you know their hobbies, activities, preferred media, etc., which helps you to maximize the visibility of your brand. Satisfied customers tend to come back. Design products and services that match precisely the expectations of your audience.
Are You Going Virtual?
Running an office is an ongoing investment that most entrepreneurs fail to consider. Indeed, renting or buying a physical office space comes at a cost. You will need to evaluate health and safety risks, consider equipment and decor purchase, as well as recurring costs of maintenance, cleaning and insurance. While there’s no denying that some companies can gain in maintaining a visible physical presence, such as customer-facing sectors, others don’t need a physical address to thrive. A virtual office offers a variety of cost-efficient advantages for small businesses and startups which tend to work on a tight budget without affecting your productivity. A virtual office can let you hire remote talent for your company too. It also appeals to Millennials who are favorable to flexible working environments and enhanced work-life balance. While it may not be the most effective solution for all businesses, it can help entrepreneurs keep their budget in the green during the launch period.
Can You Pitch Your Idea In 3 Minutes?
New business means getting investors onboard. Indeed, launching with the support of investors can make a significant difference to your business development. However, angel investors are not generous without reason. They need to be convinced that your business could be successful. Most investors hear pitches all day long and you can expect them to tune out as soon as they get bored. So, the most important question you’ve got to ask yourself is, do you know what to say to get them excited? A good pitch tells a story about your product, your market, your business model, your strategy and your competition. You can practice your quick presentation in front of friends to tackle their questions and gain new insight. And repeat until it’s perfect.
What Do You Do?
A pitch to a board of investors is one thing. But introducing your company to a contact on a networking event is an entirely different kettle of fish. While investors have an interest in listening to your pitch, a contact at an event has a shorter time frame. You have about 15 seconds to present your business. So how do you do it? Your target might be a future client or even the CEO of a company who is looking to invest in a profitable business. So, your answer needs to be good, concise and competent. Expert sellers recommend starting your answer with ‘We help’. Use 20 words or less and avoid buzz jargon.
What Are Your Perks?
Employees are an essential part of your success. More importantly, they know the business and the audience. Consequently, you need to do everything you can keep your employees satisfied. Treat them as stars. Aside from interpersonal interactions, you need to think of the perks employees get with you. Valuable and meaningful advantages reduce staff turnover rate. Apple, for instance, makes sure all employees get a new iPhone on the job. Google spoils its team with healthy meals, family support and extensive personal services. You might not be able to match these, but you need to give your team something they don’t want to lose.