7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Successful Business
Turning your dream of business ownership into reality begins with a carefully crafted vision. What do you want your business to be? By asking yourself some important questions about your plans, talents and desires, your business concept can begin to take shape.
“Everybody has a million-dollar idea; it’s just a matter of pursuing it.” I love this sentiment offered by Spanx creator Sara Blakely. Her own search for slimming, silhouette-perfecting undergarments helped her identify a problem that plagues many women. She then took the next step and designed a product to solve the issue. Problem. Solution. Voila!
But even Blakely would tell you it’s not that easy. Her business venture took a tremendous amount of time, focus, dedication and creative problem solving. There were plenty of ups and downs and lessons learned along the way—from creating prototypes and packaging to getting a patent and making sales calls. However, because she believed in herself and her product, and stayed focused on her vision, nothing stopped her.
Fast forward 18 years and now Blakely’s underwear line (and company) have sales estimated at between $250 and $400 million. This self-made billionaire, who still owns 100 percent of her company, is living the life of her dreams.
If your own business dream still feels a bit gray and undefined, don’t worry. Let’s get started bringing focus and definition to your business idea.
Crafting your vision
A vision board is one tool that many entrepreneurs find useful when thinking through their business idea. As a kind of “goal poster,” the board is a collection of pictures, images, phrases, quotes, symbols, even scraps of fabric—anything you find inspirational and meaningful.
As you build your board, consider where you see your business in one year. What products or services will you offer? What does your space look like? Who are your customers?
To start creating your vision board:
- Search Google® images, Etsy® or Pinterest® for pictures that correspond with your business idea
- Look through magazines for pictures of things that represent your vision
- Explore sources such as com or quotationspage.com to find inspiration
- Take a look through your personal files for photos that are significant to your vision
Let this board serve as a daily reminder of your business goals. For my most recent board, I combined all my found items on a PowerPoint® slide and then simply had copies in various sizes printed for my purse, briefcase and desk.
What does business ownership mean to you?
As you create your vision, think about what owning a business means for you. Consider these seven things:
- How much time will you have to devote to building and running a business? One of the biggest myths about business ownership is that it offers a lot of unfettered free time and schedule flexibility. While there may be some truth to that, most successful entrepreneurs devote more than 40 hours per week. What time commitment will your type of business take? For example, if it is important to you to have nights and weekends free, owning a retail establishment may not work for you. An online retail business might make more sense.
- How might business ownership affect your family? Whether you’re single or married, a parent, daughter or sister, think about what effect your business might have on your family. There could be positive and negative considerations here. For example: A spouse might need to pick up the slack at home. Or, on the positive, whether through increased earning power, freedom and flexibility of schedule or charting your own path, many women reported that being a successful entrepreneur has allowed them to serve as a role model.
- Do you have the necessary education, skills and background to build and launch a business? There will undoubtedly be areas where you feel less knowledgeable. For example: Maybe your dream business is Web development. You know how to build Web sites but have little knowledge of basic business financials. Don’t dismay! Everyone has something to learn and there are plenty of resources out there to get you up to speed.
- What skills and talents will you need to have provided by others? Find ways to use your natural abilities and knowledge to best support your business. Many entrepreneurs hire outside experts in areas where they have less knowledge, e.g., attorneys and accountants.
- Are you interested in travel? Your business is yours to create. If you want to travel, consider how you can build travel into your dream business. (Consider adding a visual representation of your desired travel destinations to your vision board.)
- Where do you want to live? Consider whether your dream business will flourish there. If your dream is to own a little beachside boutique and you live in Des Moines now, clearly you have a location issue.
- How might you fund your business? Even though you’re still vision-crafting and you don’t have all the numbers, give thought to how you will raise the initial funds you need to get your business started. Where will you get the money you need?
Creating a vision for your business turns ideas into reality. Working your way through these questions helps you make decisions about what you want, so your goals and dream business begin to take shape.
This article is the third in a series written to help women entrepreneurs like you take a closer look at what’s keeping you from moving forward, overcome doubts and understand the fundamentals and the mindset needed to help make you successful. They are not designed to help you build your financials or create your marketing plan, but rather to prod you to think bigger … and begin thinking with the mindset of an entrepreneur. They will appear on our blog: https://insightsnationalseminarstraining.com/ and in our free monthly professional women’s newsletter which you can subscribe to: http://www.nationalseminarstraining.com/womenslink/index.cfm
If you missed our first two articles, read them here: