By Blair Williams, the founder of the WordPress membership plugin MemberPress and affiliate program plugin Easy Affiliate.
During times of crisis, like the pandemic we're currently going through, it becomes critical to think carefully before starting a business.
And even in more stable times, you still need to have clear plans, projections for the future and strategies to deal with undesirable situations in your business.
We need a checklist or guide to help us decide if it's a good idea to start a business. And that's what this post is all about. Here are some important things to consider before you pursue your business idea.
Is your supply chain reliable?
Logistics and manufacturing industries are under pressure at this time. For an entrepreneur, it means having to depend on uncertain supply chains.
Look at whether you can source your material locally and whether they can scale up or make customizations as needed. If that isn't possible, you'll need to reconsider your decision to start a business or at the very least, look for new ways to design your product -- i.e., if it's a physical one.
Is your product a need or a want?
During a crisis situation, people's needs take priority over their wants. And you need to consider whether your product makes sense in a challenging time.
Of course, this depends entirely on the market your product is for and the kind of crisis we're seeing.
Although many physical stores have seen a drastic reduction in foot traffic during the pandemic, it's also led to a rise in the creation of online stores. This is an opportunity for individuals and brands in the digital marketing space to grow, and a great time to offer relevant services.
You'll know whether your business comes under a need or a want if you study your audience well. Learn about the demographics of your audience, such as their profession, age, and other details. Such information can help you figure out if there's a match between your offering and their needs during a crisis situation.
Can you find good partners?
One of the practical pieces of information you need is to know whether you have people to work with.
Just like how supplies can get disrupted during a crisis situation, you may see changes in a partner or complementary business. Certain professions may also get affected, which impacts your ability to find employees.
It's a good idea to send out feelers for a partner and people to hire before you start your business, so that you can find the right people fast and reduce disruption in your operations.
Can you chart out a practical plan?
Many ideas sound good in your mind until you practically plan them out. Even the simplest businesses today require a great deal of work. From setting up a website and an app, finding staff, and getting the finances to build your business, you have a substantial amount of work to do.
So start creating a practical business plan. Look for practical details like how you'll source or build your product, where you're getting funding from, and other important information. The more detailed your plan is, the more certain you'll be that starting a business is right for you.
Consider the availability of supporting organizations.
If you're new to starting a business, then it's important to have support from governmental bodies, accelerators, networking groups, and other types of organizations.
When your industry has a supportive ecosystem, you can get guidance and networking opportunities that can make a difference in your business growth.
This is especially important during times of crisis. With the help of a network of people and institutions, you can get market information and the ability to test your product ideas, and meet investors.
The points in this post will help you validate your business idea, especially during difficult times like the current pandemic.
The important thing is to get as much practical information as possible and to be rational in your decision making.
During unusual times, you may be better off waiting to start your business. Or if you track the right information, you may even find that opportunities are available to you right now.