Questions to ask before starting a business


15th October, 2021

3 questions to ask yourself before starting a business

Keen to start a business? Before diving in, set yourself up for success by reflecting on these three questions from The Business Bible’s Victoria Devine.

You’ve got a brilliant idea for a business. It’s golden, it’s so clever, it has you feeling ridiculously excited and you are itching to hit the ground running and build this business right now.

But wait! Before you dive into registering your ABN and throwing together a website, there are three crucial questions you need to ask yourself first.

The answers to these could set you up for success and potentially save a lot of heartache (and dollars) by letting you know if this is a viable business that you should be starting.

Ready for the knowledge? Here are the three questions to ask yourself before you start a business.

1. Why are you starting a business?

Victoria Devine at work.
Victoria Devine hosts the popular She’s On The Money podcast as well as The Business Bible. Picture: supplied.

This might sound obvious, but probing deep into the why of your business is key to making sure you’re in it for the right reasons and for the long haul.

Answers may include:

  • Wanting to be your own boss
  • Financially providing for your family
  • Living your dream of building something you’re super passionate about

All of these are brilliant responses, because your why needs to be rooted in something you really care about so that when things go wrong, you hit a tough month with your business, or you are completely wiped from working through the night for the fifth evening in a row, you want your why ready and waiting to help motivate you onward.

That’s why reasons like ‘I’m starting my own business because I hate my boss and I want to crush him with a competitive brand’ will not work nearly as well.

Trust me, when you’re ploughing through invoices and replying to passive-aggressive customers at three o’clock in the morning, you do not want to be thinking about your sh*tty ex-boss. It will only make things worse.

So, figure out your wholesome, optimistic why and lock it in as the motivation behind your business so it can fuel your all-important next steps.

2. What problem is your business going to solve?

This is a question you’ve probably seen floating around entrepreneurial Instagram accounts, and with good reason: if your business isn’t solving any problems for anyone, then it’s seriously not worth pursuing.

If you’re immensely passionate about your business idea, that’s great. But if no one else is – and, more importantly, if no one else is passionate enough about it to pay for it – then it’s simply not a viable business.

You need to ask yourself (and ideally some friends and family who you can trust to be honest) the following sub-questions:

  • What problem does this business solve?
  • Who does it solve problems for? (And how many of those people are there?)
  • Are those people willing to pay to have the problem solved?
  • How much are they willing to pay to have the problem solved? (And does that match what you are thinking of charging?)

These will help build a clearer picture of your key audience, your service or product and your prices. Three incredibly important cornerstones of your business.

If the answers make sense on paper, then you may have a brilliant business idea on your hands.

Some great examples of cracker problem-solving businesses you know and love include Canva, who solved the problem of graphic design being difficult, inaccessible and expensive; and MYOB, who solved the problem of accounting and business admin typically being complicated and time consuming.

3. Have you got your processes organised?

Before you start, before you even make your first sale and receive your first dollar, the question of “what am I going to do with all this money?” seems like a great problem to have.

Time and time again I hear horror stories from small business operators who didn’t put processes in place for shipping, for customer service and for bookkeeping and cash flow and then hit a major hurdle later down the track.

Figuring out your finances may feel like a foreign concept to you, but if you’re going to be a business owner, it’s best that you know now that this is something that will be on your to-do list. Sorry.

Carving out time before you make any sales to implement your processes will be immensely helpful for future you – and by that I mean future you at tax time who could either be a) ripping out their hair because nothing is organised or b) sitting with a smug grin on their face because everything is sorted and they’ve saved heaps of time, money and potential migraines.

Spending an hour or so at start can and will save you days or weeks at tax time, not to mention the fees from accountants who have to spend time digging through and figuring out your financials if they’re a hot mess.

My best recommendation would be to utilise a program like MYOB, as they’re an incredible entry level option for small businesses who need to set up their books and cashflow in a simple, non-overwhelming way.

I’d love to say, “once you’ve answered these it’s all smooth sailing,” but unfortunately in the world of business that is definitely not the case.

Truth is, you’ll have great days and you’ll have tough days – but as long as you have your why motivating you, a clear understanding of what problem you’re solving and how you’re going to process it all then half the battle is already fought, my friend.

Ready to start developing your business plans? Translate your ideas into actual, tangible steps with  MYOB’s business plan templates available for FREE in Australia or New Zealand.