Starting a business during a crisis? Ask yourself these questions.

By Blair Williams, founder of WordPress membership plugin MemberPress and affiliate program plugin Easy Affiliate.

During times of crisis, such as the pandemic we are currently experiencing, it becomes critical to think carefully before starting a business.

And even in more stable times, you still need to have plans, forecasts for the future and clear strategies to deal with unwanted situations in your business.

We need a checklist or guide to help us decide if it is a good idea to start a business. And that’s what this post is about. Here are some important things to consider before pursuing your business idea.

Is your supply chain reliable?

Logistics and manufacturing industries are under pressure at this time. For an entrepreneur, this means having to depend on uncertain supply chains.

See if you can get your material locally and if they can scale or make customizations as needed. If that’s not possible, you’ll need to rethink your decision to start a business, or at the very least, look for new ways to design your product — eg, if it’s physical.

Is your product a need or a want?

During a crisis situation, people’s needs take precedence over their desires. And you have 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 type of crisis we’re seeing.

Although many brick-and-mortar stores have seen a drastic reduction in foot traffic during the pandemic, it has also led to an increase 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 will understand whether your business needs or wants if you study your audience well. Learn about your audience’s demographics, such as occupation, age, and other details. Such information can help you understand whether there is a match between your offer and their needs during a crisis situation.

Can you find good partners?

One of the practical pieces of information you need is to know if you have people to work with.

Just like how supplies can be interrupted during a crisis situation, you may see changes in a partner or complementary business. Certain occupations may also be affected, which affects your ability to find employees.

It’s a good idea to send out pitches for a partner and people to hire before you start your business, so you can quickly find the right people and reduce disruption to your operations.

Can you make a practical plan?

Many ideas sound good in your head until you actually plan them. Even the simplest businesses today require a lot of work. From creating a website and app, finding staff and getting finance to build your business, you have a significant amount of work to do.

So start creating a practical business plan. Look for practical details, such as how you will source or build your product, where you are getting funding and other important information. The more detailed your plan is, the more confident you will be that starting a business is right for you.

Consider the availability of support organizations.

If you are new to starting a business, then it is important to have support from government 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 growing your business.

This is especially important in times of crisis. With the help of a network of people and institutions, you can get information about the market 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.

It is important to get as much practical information as possible and to be rational in decision-making.

During unusual times, you may be better off waiting to start your business. Or if you track down the right information, you may find that opportunities are available to you right now.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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