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10 questions to ask yourself when you have a business idea

10 questions to ask yourself when you have a business idea

Posted on: January 21, 2016
Author: Stephanie Rochon, Communications Co-op Student

When you have an idea for a new business, you might feel like you have a lot more questions than answers. With the help of Tanya Kroeker, managing director of entrepreneurship at ATB, we've narrowed down the list of questions to ask yourself before getting your business going.

  1. What is my idea?

    It sounds like an obvious thing to know, but your idea will steer the way that future planning will go. Your idea is the starting point ​from which everything else is shaped, so while it may change as your business grows, it’s important that it’s always well-developed. Ensuring you know the ins and outs of your idea will help you share it with other people, which will become crucial in helping get others onboard.

  2. How will I gauge the strength of my idea?

    The first thing you should do is approach your friends and family with your idea to get a second opinion. Getting feedback from people you trust who will speak honestly is a great first step in moving forward with it.

    As much as possible you should try to network with experts so that you can share and build your idea with them. Doing market research will also help you get an idea of the industry and how your business might fit within it. Once you feel that your idea is developed, you can explore setting up a crowdfunding campaign to test the market and even raise part of your start-up capital.

  3. Who are my clients?

    Knowing your target market will help answer the question, “Why would someone choose me over my competitors?” By looking at your competition you can see what differentiates you and what your business will replace or improve. You can learn more about your potential clients through market research and networking with industry professionals.

  4. Do I have a business plan?

    Your business plan will walk through everything—your structure, who’s involved, your competitors and your market—which will force you to ask questions of how you’ll transform your idea into a business. On top of this you’ll need a projection and forecast where you’ll start to look at numbers. At this stage, projections should look three to five years into the future and they’ll cover revenue, expenses and sustainability. Your business plan is the foundation of how you’ll meet your projections.

    Check out ATB's Business Plan Builder

  5. What are my key personal strengths?

    Some people are great at generating ideas but struggle to turn them into a reality. Knowing your strengths and knowing yourself will help you realize when it’s time to turn for help from an expert. As much as possible, surround yourself with people that possess the skills you lack.

  6. How well-connected am I?

    The world works on networks. You could have an idea similar to something that already exists, but a network of people backing you should give you an advantage. Having strong networks could help in everything from crowdfunding to getting skilled people on your team.

  7. What resources do I need?

    The resources you’ll need to get your business off the ground can mean money or it can mean people. These are what will get your idea moving. Your business plan and projections will help you determine what your start-up costs will be.

  8. How am I going to make money?

    This is the most important question to ask yourself when setting up a business because if it isn’t making money, then it isn’t sustainable. You’ll need to know how much money you’ll need in order to start generating revenues, as well as where that money will be coming from.

  9. Am I ready for the challenges ahead?

    It’s a lot longer than people realize before they start generating revenue. You may need to spend for months before your business becomes profitable—many businesses have ended before they’ve even started. You have to be passionate about your business because it will be hard and there will be many lows along the way.

  10. Am I ready to talk to a banker?

    Whether you need to take out a loan to start up or not, at some point you’ll need to talk to a banker. Before that conversation happens, you should already have a complete business plan, ideally with some well-researched financial projections. If you need help getting your business plan started, there are many templates online​, or you can go to your banker for help in finding resources.

    If you are planning on taking out a loan, you should be prepared for your banker to ask you in-depth questions about your projections and how you calculated them. Bankers need to mitigate risks as much as possible, so showing that you’ve done a lot of research into how you can feasibly get your business started will help get them onboard—and help get you a loan.

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