Sample survey questions for starting a new business

Do you need money to start a business? How do you know when you’re ready? Should you just stick to side hustling? Here’s the reality: whenever you’re starting something new, regardless of what it is, chances are you’re going to have some questions. But that’s what I’m here for.

Today, I’m answering five of the biggest questions for aspiring small business owners. Hey, by the way, I’m Nikita, and the first and probably the biggest question that I hear from aspiring business owners is, do you need money to start a business? The short answer? Yes. Well, yes, in most cases.

I’m sure you’ve seen those articles that list out all these ideas for starting a business with zero dollars, but the reality is, any business, regardless of the type, is going to require that you pay for at least something.

For starters, all business owners need to register for a business license. This can look different depending on the type of business and what state you live in, but there will be a fee. And if you’re going to form a business for legal and tax purposes, you may want to file your necessary fees with the state and get yourself incorporated.

Now, the level of expense doesn’t necessarily have to be high, but Secretaries of State offices usually charge somewhere between $1 and $250 in fees for incorporating or forming LLCs and between $5 and $150 for doing a DBA (Doing Business As) name. You could stick to sole proprietorship without doing a DBA, but I’d still recommend getting a business bank account to avoid mixing your business and your personal money, which isn’t something that I typically advise. So, while $0 is a bit unrealistic, you could start a business for a fairly low cost depending on the type of business you’re planning.

If you have a marketable talent, it could mean a low cost of entry for you. Those would be things like consulting, being a trainer, manual labor, or pet services. Those all would have startup costs that land on the lower end. While having a marketing budget to scale your business or a professional website to direct inquiries to would be helpful. Investments aren’t necessarily mandatory if you have other means of building your client base.

Okay, so if I do need money, how do I get it? That’s a great question. Generally speaking, you have three options: debt funding, equity funding, or free funding. But let’s start with the free funding option because obviously, we’re going to start there. Who doesn’t want free money? The challenge with these options is that they’re not the easiest to come by. Visiting a site like grants.gov can help you find free federal business grants. You may also be able to find a grant through private organizations or nonprofits.

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For many of these options, you’ll need to meet certain criteria to qualify, but they’re definitely worth looking into. With debt funding options, you would borrow money from a third party to fund your business and then repay it with interest over time. The first thing that probably comes to mind when I mention debt is a business term loan, where you get a lump sum of money and then pay that back along with interest over a set amount of time. You’d choose the best loan for your qualifications and business needs, compare lenders, and then you’d apply.

These can be great if you have a specific funding need like renovations or an expansion. A business line of credit might be a better option if you need ongoing access to funds since this option is fairly flexible. You can draw from a set amount of funds and pay interest on only the money that you use. After you repay it, you can draw from the line again as you need to.

When you’re just starting out, you might also want to consider a business credit card. If your personal credit is good, qualifying for a business credit card might be a bit easier than some of the other debt funding options.

Then the final funding option that I mentioned was equity funding. This can be a great option if either you can’t qualify for a business loan or you just don’t want to take on the debt. In this case, you’d receive money from an investor in exchange for partial ownership of your company. If you’ve ever visited Kickstarter or a similar crowdfunding site, you may have seen options to invest in equity crowdfunding opportunities. For a set amount of money, you’d own X share or a percentage of the business.

Angel investors and venture capital firms work in a similar way, though investors are usually more inclined to invest in startups that have high growth potential. And you get the added bonus of not only having their investment but also their business expertise because they’re ultra-committed to your success so that they can ensure that they get their money back. If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, that’s just the type of investment that the sharks are making—investing a dollar amount in exchange for a stake in the entrepreneur’s business.

Side hustle versus small business.

What’s the difference, and which one should I go with? This one gets a little confusing because folks tend to use these two interchangeably, even though the core of what they are is actually pretty different. A side hustle is typically defined as a gig that you take on in addition to your current job as another source of income or pursuit of a hobby. On the flip side, a small business is usually a smaller company that you start and deeply invest your time and money in with the intent that this becomes a full-time job someday.

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So, in understanding that, you can see how it can get a little confusing because maybe you are starting a business while still working full-time. Does that make the business a side hustle? Look, the biggest differentiator between the two would be the amount of time that you need to put into them. A side hustle is usually something done in your free time to grow a hobby or just add to your income. You might limit your orders as needed or pause the service altogether for vacations or when you just want a break.

A small business usually requires more of your sweat equity and will likely wipe out anything resembling free time in its early stages and sometimes for a long time thereafter. Decide how much time you want to invest in what your end goal is to help you choose which option is best for you. So,

should I quit my job to start a business?

Some people will tell you not to quit until you’re making enough money from the business to sustain your lifestyle, and others will say you should just take the plunge and go for it. But everyone’s journey is different. I’d say the first thing to consider when you’re thinking about this question is to weigh the benefits of your job against the business opportunity.

Have you already tested the viability of your business idea? Do you know that there’s a market for it? Have you already experienced some business growth? I know it’s said that business ideas often begin based on personal passions, and I’m not discrediting that, but passion can only take you so far. You need to have an idea, product, or service that people want to spend their money on.

I’m also going to challenge you to look at your personal finances first. How’s that emergency fund that I’m always insisting that you build? Do you have that built up to help float you through potential lean times? Are you ready to fund your health insurance, retirement funds, and the other major life things that lots of employers are helping to cover these days? And just from a holistic perspective, are you emotionally ready for it?

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It can be nice having the comfort of knowing that you’ll be getting a set salary deposited into your bank account every two weeks. Are you ready for the stress that can come along with having multiple slow months in a row or seeing your savings dwindle? I’m not saying these things will definitely happen, but they are possibilities you’ll need to be emotionally prepared for.

How do I grow my business?

That’s the big one, right? Every business owner wants to find that sweet spot that continues to help scale their business. You could ask two successful business owners what they did to grow their businesses, and you’d likely get two completely different answers. But a good place to start is by building a network.

You want to set yourself up as a subject matter expert, so begin building your content and tap into the network you already have for cross-promotion opportunities. This can come in the form of blog posts, social media content, YouTube videos, or whatever else makes sense for your business.

Start leveraging these free tools as soon as you can and learn the best practices for each. Remember that it’s not enough to just throw a post onto Instagram; you have to play the Instagram game using hashtags, engaging with the community, and all the other things that make Instagram what it is.

It’s also important that you start listening to your customers from day one. Find out what worked for them and what didn’t so that you can continue to evolve the business as needed to meet the needs of your audience.

And there we have it—five of the big questions folks have when deciding to launch a business. Deciding to take that leap and get your business started is a big exciting step, and it doesn’t have to be completely scary. Keep learning as much as possible, prepare to be flexible when needed, and stay strong. There’s a ton of resources out there to help you along the way, and just remember that business ownership is not for the faint of heart.

When you’re ready to get started, be sure to pop over to our patreon community. We can help you choose a business bank account, compare loan options, and walk you through the steps of getting your business up and running.

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