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Developing business ideas - 5 big questions

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by Startacus Admin

Joseph Benn is passionate about enterprise having helped hundreds of young people develop their ideas and set up businesses. In this article for Startacus he highlights the 5 questions he asks everyone developing their business ideas...

Anyone who works with me to develop their business ideas gets asked 5 big questions. Amongst the people whom Ive assisted these 5 questions have become almost legendary! Whilst I apply them to business they could be applied to anything and everything. I’ve found that when I ask people to apply them to their business a funny thing happens.

They either come back to me really excited with an intense urge to make their idea a reality or they don’t come back to me at all having realised their idea isn’t viable or simply isn’t what they initially thought it was going to be.

There’s nothing particularly magical about these questions – you will have heard them all before. What they do is force you to get to the heart of your business idea and force you to develop it. I thought you might find them useful.

The questions are:business idea questions


I cheat slightly!

Whilst I call them the five questions there are actually more than five because each question has more questions.

Who – Who are you? Who are your contacts? Who are your customers? Whose your competition? (One of the thing that irritates me slightly is the

What – what is it your business does? (you really need to think about this –a food business needs to do more than sell food! It may also inform its customers about more healthy eating options, provide a family atmosphere and so on)

Why – why are you wanting to set this business up? Compassion? To make money? To change the world? Theres no right or wrong reason but knowing your reason will make it more likely you will carry on through the hard times (and trust me there will be hard times!)

When – when do you plan to make your first sale or have your first customer? Put down an exact day! Be realistic whatever you think add a half on again to give yourself time. Now work backwards from that date listing everything you need to do to get to that position.

How – how will you tackle foreseeable problems? How will you tackle failure if it raises its ugly head? How will you pull all of the above together to make your idea a reality? How will you tackle problems that have occurred to you answering the above questions?

It helps if you can answer each question using the SMART principle. SMART is one of those dreadful business management acronyms that unfortunately works really well! It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound.

Attracting my first customer some time in 2013 is not SMART.
Getting my first customer May 16th 2013 is SMART.

Answer these questions and see what happens to your business idea and how you feel about it.

In my next post I want to look at useful questions for entrepreneurs. Until then.

Joseph Benn is passionate about enterprise having helped hundreds of young people develop their ideas and set up businesses. Hes especially interested in the role creative thinking plays in this process and has written a book on ideas generation Brilliant Business ideas and has a blog at

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Published on: 13th December 2012

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