Last Updated: Jul 10, 2012
Use this worksheet to collect the information you need to evaluate your business idea and get your business off to a good start.
Before you go into business you should attempt to learn as much about the business (and yourself!) as possible.
This worksheet–if you actually fill it out and answer all questions honestly–will help you collect and evaluate essential information about yourself and the business you would like to start.
While it won’t give you all the facts you need to determine if you should pursue your business idea, it will help you answer some very fundamental questions and help you identify possible pitfalls.
List the reasons you want to go into business for yourself
Are you willing to work long hours even if this business doesn’t make money immediately?
Have you ever worked in a similar business?
Have you ever worked as a foreman or manager?
Have you taken any business courses in school?
Describe what you plan to sell in one or two sentences?
Describe your typical customer:
Family income: ________________________
Geographic location: ________________________
Buying habits: ________________________
Frequency of product use: ________________________
Purchasing/decision maker: ________________________
How big is the market? ________________________
Is the market growing, static, or declining? ________
How much of the market can you reach? _______________
In what geographic areas are those kinds of businesses and/or consumers located? ______________________________________
How will you get your products or services to them, or how will they (customers) get to you?____________________
Who are your competitors? _______________
How well are they doing? _______________________
How will you distinguish your products or services from theirs?
Size, color ________________________________
Is there really a need for another business like the one you are planning to start?
How will you advertise your business?
Who will prepare your ads?____________________
Where can you get help with your ads?__________
How do other businesses like the one you are considering get customers?
Do you know how to price the products or services you plan to sell?
Do you know what other businesses are charging for products and services like those you plan to sell?
What have you done to find out what your potential customers really want to buy?
If you will be selling products, do you have a system devised for tracking inventory and determining when to reorder?
Where will you get your stock if you are selling a product?
Who will actually do the selling? You, or a salesperson? ______________________________________
Do you have any sales training, or have you studied books on salesmanship? ______________________________________
Do you like selling?
How much money do you have now to put into this business? $_______
How much money do you need to start this business? $_______
Where will you get the rest of the money you need to start this business? (list sources and amounts)
How much credit will you be able to get from suppliers (people you will have to buy goods or services from)? $_______
How much money do you expect to make per year from this business (salary and profit on investment)? $_______
What is the minimum amount of money you need per year to meet living expenses? $_______
Have you discussed business loans with a banker or an accountant?
Will you need a partner to supply money or business know-how?
If you will need a partner, do you know someone who would be appropriate and with whom you are sure you could get along?
Have you investigated the pros and cons of working on your own (sole proprietor), with a partner, or as a corporation?
Have you discussed your plans with a lawyer?
Are most businesses in your community doing well?
Are other businesses like the one you want to start doing well in your area?
Are other businesses like the one you want to start doing well in the rest of the country? ______________________________________
Where will you find employees if you need them?
Are other businesses in you area having difficulty finding qualified help?
What salary will you have to pay to get reliable help? $_______
How will you train your employees?
Do you know how long it normally takes to get paid in your line of business?
Will you accept credit cards?
Have you investigated the requirements of credit card companies and the benefits and drawbacks of accepting credit cards?
Could you make more money working for someone else?
Are you sure you will have the support of your family?
Do you read trade journals or other sources of information about new ideas and products in your field?
Have you investigated how the Small Business Development Center or SCORE might be able to assist you with formulating and implementing your plans?
About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets. Follow Janet on Twitter and on LinkedIn