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If you're reading this article, you probably have one question on your mind: "How do I start a business?" However, the first question that needs answered is whether you should start a business. While it does have several benefits, business ownership isn't for everyone. Some people enjoy working for an employer because of the structure it gives them, as well as the divide between work and life. If you own a business, you'll be responsible for everything, and your work can become your life.

That is why it's important to consider a few things before you decide to start.

Have a Good Idea.

Every business is born as high-concept; as an idea. Simply put, if there's no "wouldn't it be great if" thoughts, there can be no business. However, your idea will also need to be viable. It should solve a problem and fill some sort of void, such as a certain business type is lacking in your area or giving customers options, they currently don't have. However, it also needs a bit more to "work." Think about which of these three categories your idea falls into, and how:

  • What You Love – Simply, what are you passionate about? This can also be something you believe in; a goal that you want to accomplish, or a contribution you want to make to the world.1
  • What You're Good At – This will not only factor into choosing an industry, it will also come into play when you're figuring out how to run your company.1
  • What People Will Pay For – Obviously, you want to stay in business! Make sure your idea is something customers would be interested in.Offer them something that makes them want to keep supporting you above other businesses.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses.

In other words, know which areas you excel in and which areas you are lacking. These points, apart from funding, are among the most important things to keep in mind before you start. First, what you're good at helps you decide what type of business you should open. While passion is an important element, it's much more important that your business is something that generally fits your skillset. Knowing your skills will also affect how you run your business. Second, find out what you're not good at. This doesn't mean you shouldn't start a business if you can't do everything; in fact, it's rare to find a person with that many talents. As mentioned above, your weaknesses will factor into your plan. For example, if you lack experience in bookkeeping, you'll need to hire a bookkeeper for your business. Find out what you will struggle with and determine if you will need to learn the necessary skills yourself, hire someone, or use another company's services.1 All of this will affect the funding you'll need to start your business.

Have Knowledge of the Industry.

It's hard to jump into running a business if you don't know anything about the industry. For example, you're going to have a tough time running a bar if you have no idea how bars are run, or what the industry as a whole is like. You should also have experience in the industry you plan to enter. A good way to get both knowledge and experience is to work in your chosen industry. If you want to start a restaurant, try working in a restaurant first.1 That way, you'll have a little experience under your belt when you start your business.

Know What It's Like to Run a Business.

"What exactly is running a business like?" That is a question that many people have at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, it's a question that doesn't get answered for some aspiring business owners. Getting an answer to this question is very important. We can't stress enough: Going into business blind can be a bad idea. In fact, it's the very reason this guide exists! Chances are there will be at least a few small businesses running in your city. Feel free to talk to the owners and ask them questions about starting and running a business. Since you're still an outsider, it really helps to get an insider's perspective. If you've heard of informational interviews, this may seem familiar to you. However, instead of expressing interest in working for the company, you'll be getting the info you need to start your own.

Next Steps

Now that you've gathered your info, you're ready to prepare to start your business. Read more about this in the next article. 

Sources1Kevin Lust, Director, SBDC (Springfield, IL)