Before making the financial and emotional investments in a small business, consider the following questions.
- Have I focused on a specific product or service?
In general, specialists outperform non-specialists. How can you specialize your product or service to make it standout and offer added value?
- Is my business plan complete and in written format?
A written business plan is your best tool to evaluate the economic viability of your business. Does it include pre-opening, first year and long-range planning? Your business plan will also play a key role in securing financing and help uncover weaknesses in the planning process.
- Have I acknowledged my competition and limitations?
It will be hard to compete with "category-killer" discount chains with powerful buying power and efficiencies of scale. Does your marketing plan serve a special niche?
- Do I understand the basics of accounting?
Prepare a one-year cash flow projection prepared to ensure I can meet my financial obligations? The free website for entrepreneurs at www.myownbusiness.org will show you how to prepare a cash flow projection as well as your business plan.
- Do I have the necessary e-commerce tools in place?
Choose the best ecommerce platform for your business. Ecommerce solutions can help design and build your website, set up an online storefront, process payments, manage inventory and offer marketing tools as well as customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities.
- Have I learned the basics of my business by first working for someone in the business?
This is probably the best way to discover if you have made a choice that will be not only be successful, but also satisfying.
- Have I successfully test marketed my product or service?
Perhaps your concept has received positive feedback. Now it’s time for a reality check: are customers willing to pay for your product or service?
- Am I focused on selling a great product at a fair price rather than a fair product at a great price?
A great product will gives you more control over pricing whereas a fair product makes you more susceptible to competition.
- Am I ready to operate as a business? Do I have all my communications systems and other business tools in place?
Make it easy for potential customers to find you. Secure the domain name of your website and publish your business telephone number and address, if appropriate.
- Is my marketing plan and budget in place?
Evaluate your most successful competitors to determine their marketing strategy. Whether it’s search engine optimization, direct mail advertisements, or special product bundles, be sure to set a budget and stick to it.