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10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Entrepreneurial Journey Do you have what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur? Ask yourself these 10 questions.

By Yan Katcharovski Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Younger generations are increasingly looking for meaning in their work. Aside from a promising big exit at the end of the road, entrepreneurship is attracting young talent in search of purpose and fulfillment. These young leaders want to become independent but also want to have a positive impact on society. Although they have a vision and a goal to bring innovation and change, creating a business is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of preparation. Try answering the 10 questions below before starting your entrepreneurial journey:

1. Why do you want to start your own business?

Entrepreneurship is over-glorified and misrepresented on social media. In reality, it is about building a business that solves a problem for a consumer. It's not about driving nice cars or posting nice pictures on social media. In fact, real entrepreneurship looks quite contrary to what we see on social media.

Do we require a certain level of luck, genetics and an environment around us to be an entrepreneur? Yes — somewhat, for sure. But also, anyone can solve problems anywhere in the world. That is true for both small problems and big problems. The choice comes in the decision to find people who have needs, wants and issues that you can offer a solution for.

It is also a choice that each of us gets to make on how well we wish to solve that issue — how obsessed we are willing to become with that solution and how above and beyond we are willing to go with servicing the customers well.

Related: How to Become an Entrepreneur - Where to Start and More

2. What is the problem that particularly affects you?

If you want to have a viable business, it is important to have a clear mission. Given the purpose of your project, you will have to learn about the real needs of your territory. Start by doing market research to understand what people face daily and expect as solutions.

Beyond the business solution also comes the personal and emotional responsibility — shaping and growing ourselves to be able to handle and maneuver through constant stress and difficulties. That means developing personal awareness to see our shortcomings and making up for those with intelligent business decisions. It means balancing planning and strategizing with actual, excellent execution.

3. What do you want to achieve?

Describe your ideal project. Imagine your project in the way that it could fully blossom, ignoring the current constraints. Through this exercise, project yourself one year from now and then two to three years from now. Identify as precisely as possible what you would like to achieve through the realization of this project. Even if you are in the early stages of creation, it is very important to reflect on your vision, your mission and your goals.

4. Do you have the skills to implement your project?

Let's face it, you can't make an impact on the world with beautiful values alone. Daring to go through this path means changing your way of life, sometimes in a radical way. It is essential to identify your strengths and talents. These are the skills you have at your disposal.

On one side of a list, keep these skills you already have. On the other side, go through the overall skills needed to complete the project. From that point, you will be able to know if you need specific certifications, the ways you can gain those skills or even how you will train.

Determining the proper skills also includes deciding on the skills you will capitalize on and those you will look for externally (e.g., find a partner, consider partnerships with other professionals).

Related: The First Question to Ask Yourself If You Want to Be an Entrepreneur but Don't Know Where to Start

5. What are your needs?

To make your project a reality, you will have several needs such as: to feel supported, to have a professional network, and especially, to have the money necessary to launch your business. Once you have listed your needs, take stock of what you currently have.

After having a clear idea of the needs you have to fill, it's time to take action or look for external help. Sometimes, you're not able to fill them alone, so you have to turn to people around you who can bring a solution.

6. Who can help you?

Once you have defined your needs and have a clearer idea of them, it's time to take stock of your networks (personal and professional). You surely have people around who can help you in one way or another. Don't delay it — contact them.

Ask them to join you for a meeting or by phone where you will be able to exchange with them and get their feedback on your project. The success of an entrepreneurial project depends largely on the quality of your professional network. That being said, don't forget the support of your private circle (family and friends).

Another way to find the right support is by browsing aids, training and support programs available in your city or region for entrepreneurs. You can even find such programs online. In the same way, attending a coworking space could also help expand your professional network. When starting an entrepreneurial journey, part of your time will be spent networking and attending events.

7. Is your project viable in the long term?

Starting a business is good, but being able to make a living from it is even better! It is essential to question the viability of your project. To know if you will be able to make a living from it and if it will work, the only way is to test it. The first reason for business failure is the lack of need in the market, hence the importance of analyzing your market and testing your idea as soon as possible in your environment.

8. What is the state of your market?

Conducting a market study will allow you to verify if there is a market and a real need for your product or service. The term "market research" is often frightening, but rest assured, it is far from being insurmountable, thanks to the tools offered by digital technology.

The crucial question of a market study is the competition. Rather than seeing it as an external threat to your project, try to see it as a reality and an opportunity. Instead of reinventing the wheel, take inspiration from what is already being done in the market, and think about what you could do differently (e.g., adopt a different approach or method, highlight your talents and experience, or find a unique communication style).

Related: So You Want to Start a Business: What's Your First Move?

9. Who are your customers?

When you sell to everyone, you sell to no one! It is necessary to determine beforehand the typical profile of your customers — in other words, to segment them. Once the theoretical analysis of your target is done, you will have to verify the theory on the ground through interviews.

10. How will you test your idea/activity?

Many entrepreneurs wait until they have the perfect offer before launching their business. There is no point in launching a product or service that nobody wants. Instead of waiting for everything to be perfect, think about how you can test your idea as soon as possible (for example, gather a community around you, create your own content, create a landing page, etc.). This will let you know if the project is worth investing time, money and extra energy into.

A business incubator is also a very interesting device that offers a secure opportunity to test your business in real life. Find out organizations in your city or your region that can help you fix the missing points in your project and help you grow fast.

Entrepreneurship is surely a complex path when you don't fully prepare yourself. However, with the help of digital preparation, networking and good planning, you will be able to evaluate your business idea, create a business model and validate your idea through testing.

Yan Katcharovski

AI/ML Researcher at York University

Yan Katcharovski (@yankatch) is a Toronto-based Tech Product Manager, AI Researcher, and Entrepreneur with industry-spanning experience in start-ups, academia, and technical product management. He writes about startups, technology, psychology and entrepreneurship.

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