3 Questions Every Early-Stage Startup Needs to Ask

Ask the right questions to help your business scale fast!


Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Diving into a new business venture head-first is certainly part of the startup journey but it’s also the equivalent of heading down a ski run full-send without knowing what’s at the bottom — cliffs, trees, lakes, grizzly bears?? To make sure you don’t fly off a mountain, we want to make sure you ask yourself the right questions before starting.

There are a million questions you could ask yourself before getting started which, in our opinion, is the most common form of procrastination. You could easily plan forever, making sure every single aspect of the business is perfect — but eventually you need to get out of the planning stage and take action! With that said, it’s critical that before jumping in, at a minimum, you need to ask yourself these 3 key questions.

Question 1: Am I breakthrough or a “me-too” company?

Firstly, it’s important to note that there is no wrong answer for this question. Whether you’re creating a breakthrough, new technology or starting a “me-too” company [which means your product or service is similar or identical to something that’s already in market] it’s ok. You just need to acknowledge which one you are. If you’re a breakthrough technology, product or service, it may take your company a little bit longer to get going. People are unsure of how your product or service fits into their lives so education, product trial and tapping into the early-adopter market will be critical. If you’re launching a product that’s new to the market but similar to something that already exists, the learning curve for customers will be shorter. With that said, your battle will be to persuade customers that your product is better — better, faster, easier and/or cheaper. Your biggest battle will be taking share from the competition — a very different battle than those with breakthrough businesses.

In summary — It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, just know which one you have. The type of product you offer — either groundbreaking or me-too — will shape your initial marketing plan, take-to-market strategy and launch campaign.

Question 2: Is it the right time?

This question is a big one. Once you establish what type of business you have, ask yourself “Is the the right time to launch this type of technology, product or service?” There are many different things that will factor into whether it’s the right time to launch. For example, does the technology exist to support this new endeavour? Are people ready for this type of product? If you were trying to launch an e-commerce company back in the late-1980’s/early-1990’s the answer would be no. The internet was too primal to support the e-commerce needs of customers. But if the company were to wait another 5–7 years to launch, the technology needed to support this type of business would catch-up, they would be in the sweet spot of e-commerce company launches (Amazon, Ebay, etc.) and much more likely to succeed long-term.

In summary — Make sure you’re launching at the right time. Just like Goldie Locks, the timing needs to be “just right” in order for your business to thrive and scale rapidly. If you launch too soon, customers and support technology may to be ready but if you wait too long, the market will be too saturated. Find that sweet spot!

Question 3: Who is your “strategy team” and who is your “action team”?

This question is a little bit unconventional but it’s an important one. When building a business it’s important to have “planners” and “actors” — not Hollywood actors of course, but people who take action and get stuff done. If your team is full of planners, you will have a great business strategy but nothing will ever get done! If you have a team of actors, stuff will get done, but it may not be the right stuff…See the problem?

In summary — Find balance in your team. Make sure you have people who are great planners and strategists. To balance them out, you need people who will quickly and effectively implement your planning team’s vision. As an added bonus, it could be a great idea to assign or hire a Project Manager. When there are a lot of moving pieces, having one person (or team) dedicated solely to managing your to-do list and holding people accountable could be extremely beneficial. If you’re missing a piece of your team — a planner, actor or Project Manager — hire one! If you don’t have the resources to hire a team full-time, don’t worry! It’s easy to hire world-class freelance strategists, marketing and project managers. If you need strategy, action or project management support, let us know! CTRINE VENTURES actually has programs to support startups in each of these categories.

To recap — before you get too far down the road with your new business venture, it’s critical to ask yourself a few key questions. These are three of our top questions for early-stage startups but if you have any other favourite questions, leave them in the comments below!

But remember, don’t ask yourself questions forever! Eventually you need to take action.

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CTRINE VENTURES is a startup management consulting group that specializes in providing world-class and affordable marketing, project management and funding support for startup and scaleup businesses around the world. CxV partners with true innovators and disruptors across all industries. From Tech to Wellness, we work with the most talented, creative and open-minded hustlers who are exceptionally passionate about their industry, their business and making a real impact. We’re currently accepting new clients. Let’s change the world together!