Planning a Business Startup: Questions to Ask Yourself

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The $100 Startup" by Chris Guillebeau. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you have a business idea in mind? What are some business startup questions you could ask yourself as you plan its execution?

The startup stage of any company is one of the most uncertain, but at the same time, most exciting periods in the business life cycle. You should use business startup questions to help you flesh out your idea and articulate a plan for its execution.

Here are some business startup questions to take your idea from conception to inception.

12 Business Startup Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Answer

Are you looking to break away from your current work arrangement and start doing something you’re passionate about? Do you have a business idea in mind? To maximize the chances of your business being successful, you need to carefully vet your idea before you go ahead and start executing. Here are twelve business startup questions to get you thinking.

Target Audience

To effectively market your business, you need to know your target audience.

  • How would you describe your ideal client or customer? Think about both traditional (age, gender, income, etc) and new demographics (interests, beliefs, values, and so on).
  • With that ideal client in mind, how could you adapt your product to meet their needs and make a sale?
  • Similarly, how could you adapt your marketing strategy to appeal to your ideal client?

Customer Experience

Bring customers in by sharing the benefits that they’ll experience by purchasing your product or using your service.

  • List 3-5 features of your product or service. Remember, features are the details of what your product or service does.
  • Using the features of your product, list 3-5 benefits your product/service provides. Remember, benefits are how your product is meant to make customers feel.
  • Select one of the benefits you listed above. How could you communicate that benefit through marketing?


Self-promotion is vital to spreading the word about your product or service.

  • What is the primary goal of your self-promotion? This could be to bring in more customers, to increase sales, or to develop relationships.
  • What friends or colleagues could you ask to help you with spreading the word? How would you ask them for assistance? Write a simple mock email.
  • What kinds of businesses could you cross-promote with? (If you have specific organizations in mind, note their names down.) Why do you think these businesses would be good promotion partners?
  • What could you give to your customers for free to help generate traffic or sales? (This could include contests, giveaways, or consultations.)


The most important part of maintaining your business is ensuring that you have a strong income stream.

  • What business costs could you cut? Think about ventures that aren’t leading to traffic or conversions. (This could include ad campaigns, website development, or branded merchandise.)
  • Describe 2-3 ways you could generate more revenue. (Think about pricing items based on their value, tiering your pricing, and creating a recurring payment model.)
Planning a Business Startup: Questions to Ask Yourself

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  • How to start a microbusiness
  • How to start a business without needing to borrow any money
  • The 6 simple steps you need to follow to launch your business

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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