No one goes into launching a business with the assumption that it will be easy, but plenty of people do it thinking they’re fully prepared.
Maybe a handful of them are. But until you’ve actually been in the grind, fighting for growth while trying to squeeze the most out of every dollar, it’s unlikely that you’ll start off with all the knowledge necessary to push your business to its fullest potential.
I’ve been there myself. As I was working to grow multiple businesses, there were times when we weren’t growing fast enough. Or, even worse, I realized there was a limit to how much a particular business would grow with the model it had. It took time, effort, and luck before we saw success. And I know there were a few things I wished I’d known from the get-go.
There are seven key things that every business owner needs to consider before trying to launch that new business idea:
1. What problem will your company solve?
Are you solving multiple problems? Simplify. Not sure what the problem is? Go back to the drawing board. If someone’s already solving that problem, ask whether you’re trying to improve upon that company’s solution. Plenty of famous, profitable companiesbecame successes by improving someone else’s idea.
2. What is your business’s fundamental mission?
Go into business with a clear idea of where you want to take it and what you want to be the best at. You might be able to make money without a focus on the future, but it’s essential if you’re going to reach your full potential.
Making money will be a byproduct of realizing and achieving your mission. But that mission will help dictate your brand, the products or services you deliver, and even the culture that your company will adopt.
3. Does your business have “legs”?
While it’s important to have a mission and a vision for the business, one aspect of vision is being able to see the additional areas and categories into which your business could expand.
For example, Under Armour might have started out as just apparel, but it expanded from multiple sports into technology, events, and more to become a global brand. As an entrepreneur, your vision needs to be broad so you can see what you need to do first and where you can go in the long term.
4. Know your numbers.
How much do you really need to get this business to profitability? What happens with different levels of capital? Take the time to understand how much funding is really required to get the business to sustainability (meaning breakeven and, ultimately, profitability). Does more money get you there faster? Or is it just a matter of time?
Knowing how much money is required will dictate how you ask for money, who you ask, and how much of your company you end up sharing with investors.
5. What does the financial model say?
What are the key revenue drivers and variables that have the most impact on your company? A solid financial model supports every aspect of your business, from raising funds to operational planning. It helps you decide where your money is best spent and identifies key changes in your finances so you can recognize where to focus your energy. Bottom line: Build a dynamic financial model. A good one is your road map, and you will be toast without it.
6. Is there any doubt in your mind about this opportunity?
When it comes to driving your business to success, you have to go big or go home. That means knowing that your business is going to triumph and talking to everyone you meet about it without reservations. Your confidence and excitement is instrumental in connecting with potential clients, investors, and other supporters.
7. Can you make this your life for the next 10 years (or more)?
Think of it this way — no one will ever care more about this business than you. How deeply are you willing to commit? Can you pass that enthusiasm to others?
Much of what it takes to succeed can’t be learned in a classroom — you have to learn it on your own. Confidence and vision come from within, and they are both essential if you’re going to push your business to the limits of its potential.
So before you start your business, ask yourself a few questions. Where do you want it to go? How will the finances work? And what makes you so excited about it in the first place? Once you have concrete answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to go down the path to success.
(Image credit: Checklist from Shutterstock)
Abhilash Patel is an entrepreneur, investor, and digital marketer who helps companies grow and thrive. In addition to his role as vice president of digital marketing at American Addiction Centers, Abhilash is an active venture investor and adviser to a venture capitalist fund and multiple growing startups.