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Getting started part 1: 10 questions to ask when you have a business idea

By ATB Financial 8 March 2019 4 min read

So, you have a stellar business idea. Congrats, we’re excited for you! But where do you go from here? Well, would you think we’re crazy if we told you that talking to yourself is the first step? Don’t worry, we’re talking about self-reflection, which is basically talking to yourself, but for not-so-crazy people like you.

Here’s ten questions to ask yourself before taking your idea from the drawing board to real life.

1. What exactly is my idea?

It’s pretty easy to get excited about an idea and to run away with it. But this idea is the foundation for anything you build on it, so while it will definitely change and grow with your business, you need to make sure it’s well developed. Because if you don’t know your idea inside and out, no one else will.

2. How will I find out if my idea’s a good one?

Things can sometimes sound amazing in our own heads. Give your idea a trial run by sharing it with some of your safe people, like open-minded and honest family and friends, in the form of a short, curiosity-piquing elevator pitch. Getting feedback from them is rocket-fuel for getting this idea of yours one step closer to launch.

Our other advice? Start connecting with experienced professionals in the field. They’re the people who’ll help you build your idea and give you solid guidance you can trust. Also, start doing your homework. Market research helps give you an idea of your industry and where you fit into it. If you’re feeling really bold, try out a crowdfunding campaign to test your idea and maybe even get some startup capital.

3. Who’s my community?

When you know who your people—aka community or target market—are, then you can figure out why they’d choose you over your competition. When you check out what your competition’s doing, then you know what holes you can fill, what problems you can fix, and how you can serve your community to build loyalty and trust.

Remember that homework we mentioned above, market research? That and talking with industry experts are other essential steps in defining and building your tribe.

4. Do I have a business plan?

This is usually the part that no one likes, but a business plan will walk you through every part of your business, and force you to ask the hard questions that transform your idea into a real business.

If you want some help starting a DIY business plan, check out our Business Plan Template.

5. What am I a boss at?

None of us can do everything, especially when it comes to running a business. But when you know what you’re really good at, you can also acknowledge what you’re not so good at so you can reach out for help. And you get bonus points if you surround yourself with a team and mentors who have the skills that you lack.

6. How well-connected am I?

Networks are everything. If you can have a crew of trusted people who have your back, that opens doors to everything from crowdfunding to getting skilled people on your team.

7. What resources do I need?

Resources can mean money, people, time, materials, the list goes on, but they’re what you need to kick that idea of yours into action. If you make a business plan, this can help you figure out what you’ll need and how much it’ll cost.

8. How am I going to make money?

When it comes to setting up a business, this is the most important question to ask. Because if you’re not making money, your business isn’t sustainable. Take time to figure out how much you’ll need to start turning a profit, and where this money will come from.

9. Can I handle the challenges?

Nothing worth going after is easy, and that’s sure the case with starting a business. It can take a long time before your business starts to make a profit. If you’re passionate and you believe in your business, you’ll be able to ride both the highs and lows you’ll inevitably experience along the way.

10. Am I ready to talk to a banker?

No matter how you’re funding your business, you’ll need to chat with a banker at some point about your business finances. Before you do, get your business plan completed with some well-researched financial projections. If you need help getting started, there are tons of templates online, or talk with your banker about finding resources.

If you’re planning on taking out a loan, be prepared to be asked in-depth questions by your banker about your financial projections and how you got them. Since they want to eliminate risk as much as possible, showing you know your stuff will increase your chances of getting them onboard.


So, what do you think? Did your idea pass the test?​

If so, we’ve got Getting Started Part 2, full of tips to turn your idea into reality.

Are you wanting more resources to help turn that idea of yours into a business?

We’ve got a ton of great advice and resources to help you get there in our Entrepreneur’s Guide. And even if you’re still on the fence, give it a read to determine if entrepreneurship is up your alley. We want to help you out no matter where you’re at.​

Do you have questions around starting a business?

We’ll take you step-by-step through everything you need to know when starting a business in Alberta.

Need help?

Our Business Support team will be happy to assist.