12 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Startup

Businessman deep in thought.

Behind every successful startup, there is an entrepreneur working hard to make their dream a reality. However, they most likely wouldn’t have accomplished their objectives if they hadn’t been ready to take the challenge on. Asking yourself the following questions can help you determine if you’ve got the right mindset, startup idea, and business plan in place to start a successful startup company.

Important Questions to Ask Before Launching a Startup

1. Am I a Self-Motivated and Adaptable Person?

Unlike working for an established company as an employee, being your own boss requires discipline and motivation to single-handedly move a business forward. Therefore, you need to ask yourself if you are self-motivated enough to take on the responsibilities of owning your own business.

Furthermore, a huge part of being an entrepreneur is being adaptable to roll with the punches — no matter what is thrown at you. From inventory shortages to unprecedented shipping delays, there is no telling what the day will bring when you’re an entrepreneur. Because of this, it is absolutely essential to be adaptable and ready to pivot to achieve the necessary solutions.

2. Am I Willing to Take Risks?

Entrepreneurs aren’t known to play it safe. Even the act of simply starting a business is a huge risk. While there is a huge difference between recklessness and taking calculated risks, you should be prepared to take leaps when necessary to achieve your business goals.

Startups are defined by their ability to challenge the status quo, whether you’re introducing a groundbreaking product or offering a unique service. In their essence, startups possess inherent risks that you, as an entrepreneur, will need to be aware of, prepared for, and willing to take on.

3. Am I Willing to Work More Than 40 Hours per Week?

Sure, being your own boss gives you the chance to make your own schedule. However, you shouldn’t expect that schedule to fit into your average 40-hour work week. Owning your own business is as time-consuming as it is rewarding, a true labor of love.

Growing your own startup from the ground up requires exponential attention and energy to be successful. If you aren’t up to the challenge of committing more than 40 hours a week to your new business, entrepreneurship may not be the career path for you. You should seriously consider the level of commitment you are willing (or able) to put into your startup before getting started.

4. Do I Have a Startup Idea That Solves a Problem?

Many of the most successful entrepreneurs created their startup out of the desire to solve a problem. Airbnb, for example, was born out of the need for an alternative to high hotel prices. Airbnb launched a startup that solved this problem by providing a cheaper option that benefits both the guest and host.

Think about it this way: if you have a problem, it is likely that you aren’t the only person with that same experience. By launching a startup that provides a solution to your problem, it is probable that there is a market already out there for you.

Recommended: Check out our comprehensive lists of startup ideas.

5. Have I Conducted Research on My Startup Idea, Competition, and Target Market?

It’s never a good idea to go into a new business venture blindly; conducting thorough market research to support your startup idea in its infancy is critical to the success of your startup. If you haven’t done so already, knowing your startup idea inside and out, such as what you’ll need to make the idea a reality, is a good place to start.

In addition to this, you should have a good understanding of who your competitors are, how your brand differentiates from the competition, and who your target market will be. All of this research ensures you have a strong foundation with which to start your business that will be helpful to you as an entrepreneur while acquiring funding.

6. Have I Created a Startup Business Plan?

A business plan is essentially a roadmap to the first initial years of your startup’s life, and if you haven’t created one yet, you absolutely should. Not only does a business plan outline your goals and strategies aimed at achieving them, it provides financial forecasting and other important details that potential investors will want to know before committing to financing your startup.

In other words, your startup’s business plan is pertinent to starting and supporting your startup by providing you and your investors with the necessary information to move forward.

7. Do I Know My Financials and Funding Options?

You might not have an established who or what will finance your startup yet; however, at this stage, you should at least have a good idea of what your startup and overhead costs will be as well as the funding options you have available to you.

Whether you plan to bankroll your startup yourself or have a venture capital firm ready to invest — your startup will most likely require some sort of funding source. Before you start your startup, you should know how much capital you need and where it is coming from.

Recommended: Read our article on startup costs.

8. Do I Respond Well to Constructive Feedback?

Customers, employees, partners, and your inner circle will all be sources of constructive feedback — whether you ask for it or not. Therefore, before you start your business, you need to be honest with yourself about your ability to respond well to constructive feedback.

This isn’t to say you need to follow all advice given to you, but being able to absorb and critically think about the feedback you’re receiving can turn it into a tool to evolve your startup in ways you may not have thought of yourself.

9. Can I Handle Failure?

Unfortunately, a large percentage of startups fail. Failure is an unavoidable part of being an entrepreneur. However, this does not mean your business will inevitably fail; it means there will certainly be bumps in the road along the way.

As an entrepreneur, you will almost certainly have failures of all types and sizes. Your job is to adapt to meet your failures head-on, creating solutions that will turn your perceived failures into lessons that evolve your business.

10. Have I Surrounded Myself With the Right People?

All of the people who surround you, including co-founders and employees, will influence your ability to successfully operate your business. If you haven't surrounded yourself with the right people, you should consider reassessing the team you’ve established to create a strong support system for your startup.

Moreover, if you haven’t already established a team, this is a good stage to start thinking about the type of support you will need in order to make your startup a success.

11. Do I Know How I’m going to Market My Startup?

You’ve established your target market; now it is time to develop a startup marketing campaign that will reach potential customers. If you haven’t started thinking about how you will market your startup, this is one of the most important factors to think about. No matter how great your startup idea is, you need a good marketing plan to reach your target market and successfully launch your business.

12. Do I Have Goals for Startup Growth?

Once you’ve established your startup, how are you going to grow your business? One of the cornerstones of a startup company is growth. Therefore, when you are launching a startup, growth should be at the forefront of your mind.

Moreover, many funding sources will want to hear your plan for sustainable growth to have a better understanding of either your repayment capabilities or their potential return on investment.

If You Responded “No” to Any of the Questions Above, We’re Here to Help With Some Startup Resources: