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If you’re planning to launch a new small business, there are a lot of things to consider. Startups inherently come with risks and you don’t want to rush through the planning process.

There are a few important questions every entrepreneur should answer for themselves. These questions should provide greater insight into your startup’s viability and potential for success down the road.

How is my offering different from the competition?

If a local competitor already offers the same product or service, gaining customers could be challenging. The products or services you bring to the market need to be differentiated in some way, so buyers find value in your business.

Take time to conduct market research and identify the biggest competitors in your region. Learn about their offerings and value propositions, then find ways to set your own apart. Your value proposition will help inform your target audience, marketing messages and, ultimately, how viable your business venture is long-term.

Additionally, if you plan to open a franchise, the franchisor has years of experience in differentiating your brand and unique value proposition for customers. Your franchisor will be a huge asset in helping you create “buzz” about your business.

What does my growth plan look like?

A lot of entrepreneurs focus on the short term when launching a business—the intricacies of the launch, startup costs and other immediate needs. Unfortunately, this leads some business owners to forget about the bigger picture—your business’s long-term plan for growth and success.

From the outset, you should be planning a rough growth plan for your startup that looks a few years into the future. Your business plan should detail the steps you’ll take to scale, including benchmarks and future investment opportunities that will move you from the startup phase into the growth phase. If you don’t plan this timeline out, you might find yourself veering from your original course years down the road and have trouble getting back on track.

What kind of help might I need?

Entrepreneurs are often viewed as one-person powerhouses, but the reality is most small business owners can’t do it alone—especially if they want to grow. It’s smart to think ahead and consider the types of business relationships you need to position your company for success.

If you’re new to business ownership, do you need a business mentor? Will you need an employee or two to start out, or are you capable of operating the business alone? What kind of suppliers or vendors will you need to connect with? Do you plan to outsource any aspects of the business, and which ones will you need to make connections for? Planning for these relationships allows you to network intentionally and build partnerships early on.

How will I finance my business?

One of the biggest points of concern for new business owners is getting capital to finance their startup. Financing is a critical decision that can influence how the business operates now and in the future.

You’ll want to ask yourself whether certain financing vehicles are feasible. For example, do you have an established credit history and good credit score to get a bank or SBA loan? If you do take a loan, how do you plan to balance repayment with operational costs? Or, is another financing option available to you, such as ROBS? It’s this last question that usually means the difference between concept and reality for small businesses. Without funding, your startup can’t get off the ground. Fortunately, Tenet Financial Group is here to help. We represent multiple financing products for entrepreneurs, including SBA loans and self-directed 401(k)s. Contact us to learn more