Deciding to start something new is intimidating. There’s a lot you don’t know and there’s an eerie feeling that comes with stepping out into the void of the unknown. However, over time, as you accumulate more knowledge, you become more comfortable. Therefore, it comes as no great surprise that many founders have worked with a startup, or two, before they head out to start their own thing.
What I cannot emphasize enough is that starting a business is hard. Period. It’s great fun, and incredibly rewarding, but you have to make it into something to continue to elicit enjoyment from it. As a law school graduate, I was trained to identify risk and ways to avoid it. As an entrepreneur, I had to place that training aside in order to feel comfortable diving headfirst into the risk of a new venture. Here are three questions to ask yourself before jumping into the entrepreneurial pond:
1. Do you have stability?
The most crucial thing you can provide for your new venture is stability. If you don’t have the time or resources in your daily life to dedicate to your new venture, the likelihood of its success is low. Initially, you don’t have to make it a full-time commitment, but you do have to have support. This includes a partner if you have one, or the money to support yourself if you decide to transition your startup to full-time. For many of you, it might include having a roommate who doesn’t mind you screaming and swearing at two in the morning when something goes wrong, or parents who don’t mind the occasional smell of something burning or a pile of dirty dishes in your room while you remain focused. Regardless, you need stability in your life to focus on growing something.
2. Do you actually want to do this?
While the high-flying startup execs from social media, magazines and legend make everyone want to build “the next big thing,” few actually do. The one-in-a-billion chance of launching a unicorn startup is a big gamble, and it takes a lot of work. Most people couldn’t commit the amount of time, energy and hard work that it takes to get that far. An important question to ask yourself is, are you one of those people? Are you willing to give up weekends, evenings and holidays? Are you comfortable making your business your “baby”: the first thing that you talk about when you meet someone new, the thing you find yourself rambling on about with your friends and parents? If so, you might be on your way to being an entrepreneur.
3. Should you actually do this?
Odds are that if you had a brilliant idea, one of the other 8 billion people in the world has had it as well.
Step one, figure out how other people have solved your problem in the past and if they are currently solving it the way you’re proposing. There’s a big world out there, and making sure you get the competitors right is critical; investors never believe an entrepreneur who claims they don’t have competition. After you’ve figured out if there’s a need for your solution (that someone else hasn’t already been doing), the second question you need to ask is if you’ve compiled all of the critical pieces to make your company a success. The fundamental pieces include a business plan, details for a solution, a funding strategy and the customer analysis.
These three questions are only the tip of the iceberg of questions to ask yourself. If you can’t answer these three questions clearly, you probably aren’t ready to take the plunge, and that’s okay. A new business can’t just be willed into existence, it has to be built, and building something the right way takes time.