starting a small business
What needs to happen to make that open sign a reality?

Thanks to the Internet, starting a small business is a dream much easier realized than ever before. Here are our top 8 questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge.

1. What problem are you solving?

You may see a great need for silent dolphin whistles, but what about the rest of the world? Regardless of your passion, take an objective look at your target market and figure out what their problems are. Finding a fresh way to solve a problem is the first step toward starting a small business.

2. Do you have enough competition?

It may sound counterintuitive, but guess what? If there is zero competition in your niche, it means that a) no one wants what you’re selling, and b) someone else has tried it and failed. Make sure other people are already making money at what you’re trying to do, then find a way to do it better.

3. How are you different?

What makes you different from the competition? Many small business owners try to imitate their competitors without specifying why their brand, product or service is different. When you’re starting a small business, you need to stand out from the crowd!

4. How much money will you need?

Unlike brick and mortar businesses, an online business can be started with nothing more than a laptop and an Internet connection. Make a list of essential beginning expenses, but don’t stop yourself from  getting started simply because you don’t have the dough. You can blog and engage users via social media for free, and begin to build an audience and future customer base.

5. How much time will you need?

If you’re working full time, how many hours per week are you willing to dedicate to starting your small business? Make a plan and commit to spending a consistent amount of time each week, and give yourself achievable goals by which to measure your progress.

6. Should you incorporate?

In your first year of business, remaining a sole proprietor or independent contractor may be the least complicated route. Until your small business is making over $2,000 per month, you can usually wait to form an LLC. This varies for everyone, however, so your best bet is to consult your tax professional.

7. What is your long-term plan?

Are you going to give your business a year to get off the ground, or five years? Brainstorm a picture of what your long-term vision looks like surrounding your business. You may wish to build a successful business in order to sell it for a profit, or you may want to create a lifelong endeavor that will be passed down to your children. Get clear now about where you’re going, and remember – you can always change your mind later!

8. How will you know if you’ve succeeded?

What has to show up for you to know that you’ve successfully started a small business? Again, create tangible goals for yourself so you can celebrate your progress and really feel like you’ve arrived.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting a small business?

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