And why it's essential to answer them before you start.
gray desk in home office
Credit: Kana Okada

As millennial career expert Jill Jacinto eloquently puts it, "Starting a business will be one of the most important and life-changing decisions." And that's why, she and other career experts agree, it's essential to press pause and ask yourself a few questions before diving in. "It will be a struggle, especially in the beginning," she explains. "Going full-speed ahead might seem like the right path, but pausing to access if this is right for you is essential before you start."

Here are five questions you should ask yourself when you start a business, according to experts.

What are my strengths?

Career coach Hallie Crawford says it's smart to assess your strengths when starting a business. "Review your resumé and ask your family and friends for input," she suggests. "You want to make sure that what you are good at will transfer over to the business you want to start."

Why am I doing this?

"It's essential to outline your 'why'—why are you doing this—very early on," says Jacinto, who encourages her entrepreneurial clients to explore their motivation by talking with friends and family well ahead of their planned launch dates. Here's why: "Other people's reactions can help you identify different perspectives and motivations to build a stronger business," Jacinto explains.

Do I need help?

Some businesses take a team to launch. (And even if they don't, having a little help could make a big difference in your overall success.) So, before you start, ask, "Do I need help, or can I go it alone? Does it make sense to partner with a colleague or an existing business? Are their elements of the business I can outsource, like accounting and marketing?" says Jacinto. "We buy back time in our personal lives with Instacart and TaskRabbit. Why not in our professional lives?"

Do I need additional education?

Don't assume you know everything about running a business, or running a business in your specific industry. You may need formal education—in the form of classes or certifications—to set yourself up for success, says Crawford. "Do some research on other businesses in the same category and find out what is required where you live," she says, adding, "taking care of these things early on will make it easier as your business grows and also makes you more reputable."

What is my timeline?

You likely had career goals when you worked for someone else—and you should have career goals for your business, too, says Crawford. Jacinto suggests setting both short- and long-term goals: Establish your three-month, six-month, and one-year goals as well as a five-year plan, she says—and figure out how you can crush them. "Planning for what the future brings might seem miles away, but considering 50 percent of small businesses fail after five years, it's essential to look at the full picture," Jacinto says, then asks, "Do you have goals for your business to go and adapt to any new market trends? Make a loose outline of your next steps and yearly goals for growth."


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