Building a successful business isn’t for the faint of heart. Startups are filled with bumps along the road — unexpected issues that could trip up even the most experienced businessperson. The best way to be prepared and set your company up for the long haul is to ask questions. Anything and everything is fair game, but the real winners make sure they know the answers to the following questions:
1. What problem will your company solve?
In other words, did you tap into something that others will believe in? The answer to this question is not only the heart and soul of your pitch, but also the basis upon every step your company takes from here on out.
2. Is it easy to describe your idea?
Keep it concise. Sometimes the best ideas are born in simplicity. Furthermore, you need to make sure your pitch points are clear because, frankly, the people you’re pitching don’t have much time. It’s important to be straightforward and engaging, capturing investor attention like your idea depends on it… in most cases, it does!
3. What is the main benefit of your product or service?
Any product or service worth spending money on has at least one major value that justifies the purchase. The more the merrier when it comes to benefitting the customer, but it’s equally important to focus on making one aspect of your offering more valuable than anything the competition can offer. Once you’ve mastered the main value of your product, then it’s time to nail down a fuller value proposition with all the features that your customers will love.
4. Who is the target audience/user?
It’s important that you know what customer base you’re trying to reach. Are you selling to businesses, or to consumers? What industry do those businesses operate in, or where do your consumers live? Knowing your consumer’s psychographics, age, and interests are all part of understanding how to build your best business. There are a plethora of these identifying factors that are critical to developing a strong marketing plan and brand, and the more you know, the better off you’ll be.
5. Is there competition in the space? How are you different?
There’s a lot you can learn from those who have gone before you. Where did they find the most success? What has hindered their growth? Building in these learnings from the very beginning will help strengthen your idea and save you time when encountering future issues.
6. What makes you different from the others and/or other newcomers?
Have you formulated your unique selling proposition? Is it possible to patent your idea? Anything you can do to slow down others from seeing your success and entering the space will benefit your business.
7. What are the greatest strengths of the idea? Weaknesses?
Be sure to realistically assess your idea. Face the facts, good and bad, and prepare for the future.
8. What resources do you need to get to your destination? Are resources available to help you get started?
The more realistic you are about your business’s needs from the jump, the better off you’ll be down the line. Give your time, cost, and networking needs some genuine thought before you begin. Although the list of things you need will quickly grow as you begin working on your business, you’ll be much more prepared having started your planning earlier.
9. Have you built relationships with reliable experts who can help?
Oftentimes, there is nothing more valuable than solid advice. Get yourself a market veteran who can guide you along your path to launch. Thoughtful mentors often step in just when entrepreneurs need them most — whether it be to stop a bad initiative from moving forward or direct the business down a more successful path.
10. Can you test your idea on a smaller scale?
Save time and money by testing the waters. Creating a focus group, survey, or even a soft launch for your product or service can be an extremely effective way of both validating your idea, and getting feedback to make incremental improvements. Uncovering roadblocks in a test drive can prevent them from becoming potholes when you’re up and running at scale.
Not all answers will come at once, but answering these core questions will guide your business throughout its lifecycle. From launch to sales, generating demand and more, thinking through these concepts will give you a solid base for growth at all stages.