From our experience working with thousands of businesses — from small start-ups to nationally recognized brands — we can tell you that overnight success stories are more the exception than the rule.  Knowing that launching a business involves a lot of hard work, research, testing and money, here are three important questions to ask yourself before launching a new venture: 

1)  Has your concept been validated?

Before you invest energy, time and money into your concept, test it out.  Consulting with industry experts and potential customers will help you identify opportunities to improve your idea, saving you many headaches down the road. Consider finding a mentor or advisor with industry knowledge and start-up experience or conduct an online survey, using these awesome and easy-to-use survey applications, to help collect feedback.  For more information on how to validate your business idea, you can also check out this great article from Inc. magazine, which offers several helpful tips.

2) Do you have a plan?

Succeeding in business requires more than just an entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic.  In addition to expertise in your chosen industry, having a solid plan for how the business will operate is fundamental to obtaining financing.  And a rough strategy and ballpark budgets won’t cut it: you need a step-by-step plan including how you’ll market your new business or product, backed by a solid revenue model.

If you need help with your business plan, trade associations offer seminars and network connections to other entrepreneurs in the industry to help you gather necessary information.  In addition, your city’s own Small Business Development Center usually has in-depth courses on start-up entrepreneurship and business plan development.

3) Are you willing to fail?

Are you okay with potentially letting employees or outside investors down?  While more than 96 percent of the Colorado employers are small businesses, the sad reality is nearly half don’t survive past two years.

At its core, entrepreneurism is about taking risks and being able to recover from failures. The distinguishing factor between a good and a great entrepreneur is having the heart to persevere in the face of great challenges.

Consider Harland David Sanders (aka “Colonel Sanders”) who endured more than a thousand (A THOUSAND!) rejection letters for his now famous fried chicken recipe before he found the right partner that was willing to take Kentucky Fried Chicken from a dream to reality.  Or Bill Gates, who’s first product, Traf-O-Data, wouldn’t sell.  Despite the time and money he invested in Traf-O-Data, Gates ultimately accepted that his first business endeavor wasn’t the right one, and then went on to start Microsoft.

All entrepreneurs will experience their fair share of mistakes, failures, losses and setbacks, but it’s how you deal with those situations that will determine your success. In the wise words of Winston Churchill, “success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” 

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