Top 20 questions to ask yourself before starting an online business
Anyone can start an online business, a website or an online store, but the real challenge relies on maintaining and growing the business.
Starting your own online business is so appealing that many people dream of starting one. Think about it; you get to work flexible hours, be your own boss and make a ton of money in little time. However, of course, this is all part of the get-rich-fast myth from the internet, and unfortunately, many business owners fail because they were unprepared.
An Online business is indeed a very profitable business however you have to know that it requires a lot of efforts, energy, and patience.
Below is a list of 20 questions to ask yourself to make sure you have the right mindset and an effective plan.
1. Why do I want to start a business?
It is a passion:
You could be a gift handed person very passionate about your products that you would not hesitate to spend all your time and energy on your crafts. You then decide that you want to start commercializing your arts or other handmade products.
You are driven by world-changing ideas with the purpose to make a change in your society, and you will do everything it takes to achieve your goals.
You are probably tired of having people telling you what and when to do their work and you love the idea of working for yourself and with a flexible time-frame.
It is for the money
Perhaps you have lost your paying job, and you are now looking for a quick way to make money and pay your bills.
Knowing the reason why you want to start a business is a small but essential step that will determine whether your business will succeed or not.
For instance, people who are in it for money are most likely to fail. Most of the time they do not take the time to study the market or the products they want to sell. Therefore, the moment they encounter a setback they will quit. Whereas the persons driven by passion, innovation or the idea of freedom know that they must accomplish their goals no matter what.
2. What is the core purpose of my business and what is my vision?
Take a moment to dream big, dare to imagine how successful your business will be five years from now. Set long and short term goals also, ask yourself what you want to achieve with this business, what you want people to think of when they hear of your business.
This step will later associate with building your brand image and message.
3. what Type of online business do I want to start?
Determine whether you want to have an online marketplace, you want to be an affiliate, a re-seller or a service-based business. Learn more about online business types here.
4. Is my products or services in demand?
Study the market, investigate what people need and get to know if there is someone else already providing it. If the answer is yes, learn how you can do it better and attract customers.
5. Who are my customers and where can I find them?
For this step, identify your target customers to elaborate an effective marketing plan. Now that you have studied the market and know that people will buy your products, it is time to understand your customers’ behaviors (gender, age, hobbies) and their financial situations.
For example, if you want to sell expensive accessories, you would know that your target customers are upper-class women between the ages of 20 to 40.
6. Is my online business idea unique and valuable to my customers?
Being unique will convince your customers to choose your products over your competitors’.
The uniqueness of your brand can come from the originality of your products or your advertising plan.
If you own a website, make sure that you post rich and relevant contents that add value to your customers’ lifestyle.
7. How can I market my products?
The answer to this question will determine how you plan to convince people to buy your products and generate sales, and where you can find them. You will also need to decide whether or not you prefer working behind the scene (behind your computer's screen) or whether you can make in-person sales.
You can advertise your business through:
8. Do I have enough funds, if not where will I get the money?
It generally doesn't cost much to start an online business, but many people tend to ignore the extra fees that start building up once the business begins running.
Thus, take time and make a realistic list of everything you need, including:
- The cost to set up your online store or website
- Training courses and eventual experts consultations
- Operations costs such as taxes, licenses and more
- Marketing your business
- In the case where your business is the primary source of income, think about your living expenses until the business starts generating benefits.
Now that you have an idea of what you need, you can get your funding from your personal savings, borrow from friends and family, apply for business loans or present your ideas to potential investors.
For instance, if you already have a job, it is advised that you hang on to it until you are entirely sure of the profitability of your online business. You can start working during the evenings and during your days off.
10. What is my relationship with money?
This question will help you to evaluate yourself: what do you spend your money on and how can you make cutbacks and save more money. Use the extra money to invest in your business; however, keep in mind that it is vital to your business to keep your expenses separate from your business expenses.
11. What are my strengths and weaknesses, my domain of expertise?
Acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses allows you to orient your business to fit your personality. Choose a business model based on what you love, on something you are enthusiastic about so that if you fail, you would quickly dust yourself off and keep going.
For a website owner, use your domain of expertise to educate your customers, share your knowledge and apply it on your own business. For example, if you are a financial management graduate, you can share courses on your website, at the same time you will use your financial knowledge to manage your business.
12. Do I need help, will I need to delegate my works?
In the beginning, you may be able to manage the operations by yourself, but as your business grows you will need partners and employees to help you run the business.
Avoid making someone a partner just because they are your friend or a family member. Make sure the person you want to work with understands your business vision and has the necessary skills to add value.
13. Who are my competitors and what makes them successful?
Know your competition, analyze their strong and weak points and make it work in your favor.
14. What can I do better than my competitors in the Online Business industry?
Take advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses and try to do better. Improve your marketing strategies, offer sales and discounts but most importantly try to stand out and be unique.
15. How will I make money?
Do researches on how and when the business model you chose will start generating profits. Learn from people who are already making money in your industry.
16. Is there a online business model I can follow?
Inspire yourself with stories of successful people, buy or attend online courses by the leaders in your industry or find an expert to mentor you.
17. How did people previously fail in this business?
Learn from your predecessors’ failures and find solutions to avoid them.
18. How do I manage setbacks?
Starting an online business is very exciting but also overwhelming. For instance, what attitude will you adopt in case of failure? Will you take it as a learning opportunity or will you quit?
19. Can I test the business profitability before leaping?
Take on small experiments to determine the viability of your business. For example, you can test your products on your friends and see if they like it and they are willing to pay for it. If they want it, ask them to share your products with other people and gather feedbacks. Use that feedback to improve your business and satisfy your customers' needs.
If your tests fail, you can think of other methods to ameliorate your products or try something else.
Either way, these tests will save you from wasting time and money on a business that is likely to fail.
20. How will I exit the business?
Ask yourself if you would want to be in business ten years from now, will you ever consider selling your business and start something else, or will you pass it on to your children?