How do I decide if starting/owning a business is for me?

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How do I determine if my idea is a good business?

To know if your idea will translate into a product, service, or technology that customers want and are willing to purchase at a price that includes profit requires research. This research includes looking online, through trade journals, catalogs, and other information sources where your prospective customer would look for solutions. You are looking for products that are already in the marketplace that you would ultimately compete against. These may be similar to your idea or very different but viewed by the customer as possible solutions to their problems.

You also need to understand that people have problems and needs and your product may be the right solution. However, they may not be willing or able to buy your solution or willing to. So your research must also look at the prospective customer’s needs, motives, awareness of the problem, and their ability to make a purchase.

How do I fund my startup?

There are many sources of capital for funding a startup. First and foremost are your personal assets. Putting “skin in the game” or using your own assets and borrowing capability is the starting point. As your business gets defined and established, you will have funds from operations (sales) and begin to have access to business funding including credit cards, alternative lenders, SBA loans, and other options. It is important to understand that for most businesses you will rely heavily on your personal assets and creditworthiness to secure funding for initial operations. 

Most lenders (including credit card companies) will seek a personal guarantee for all business lending. A personal guarantee means that if the business is unable to repay the loan or cover the debt, you are personally liable.  Check out the Small Business Funding Overview page for more information.

How do I get my first customer?

Getting your first customer and every customer is about solving a problem or need.  You make the case for why your product, service, or technology will solve the problem and is the best value. Making the sale begins with a clear statement or message of your solution. This message needs to be focused on the customer you serve and the benefits they get. Will you save them money or time? Does the product improve a personal brand or image? Does it make life easier? What are you doing for the customer – state it clearly and concisely?