What is the most important thing to worry about when creating your first business?

Entrepreneur building his first startup

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Do You Know Your Values?

Your values are who you are as a company and should be the guiding posts to making decisions. Without an ability to express what your values are, it is difficult for your team members to be aligned. Your values impact who you hire, how you do business and who you do business with. They are as critical as a mission statement and business strategy and should stay constant through growth. – Candice Lu, ONPREM SOLUTION PARTNERS

2. What Problem Will You Solve?

The first thing I ask myself when creating a new business or even just a new product is “what problem will I solve?” If you start every business venture with this mentality, then you’ll be able to figure out unique ways to help your audience by solving a problem or improving their quality of life. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Can You Get Sales?

I’m a huge proponent of presales to gauge the validity of a business. For 99.9% of businesses, you are probably not creating the next YouTube global phenomenon. Before I engage my time and money in pursuit, I want the validation of users putting their money where their mouth is. For example, get them to support your idea through a private presale. Compliments are great, but credit cards are better. – Codie Sanchez, Cresco Capital Partners

4. Do You Have a Business Plan?

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your new business and forget to stick to a good business plan. Spend a lot of time on research and look into your competitors, your clientele, etc. Enlisting professional assistance in creating your business plan is a great investment to make up front. Consider going to the Small Business Administration for help. – Jeff Pitta, Medicare Plan Finder

Business growth and expansion

5. Can You Start Small and Grow?

Before creating your first business, ask yourself: Can I start small and grow? It’s better to self-fund your startup and start small. Then, as your new company grows and you get some more experience, you can go for funding then if needed. Getting funding after you’ve had time to grow will also be easier because you have the proof to back you up. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

6. Can You Do This Long Term?

When I started my first business, I was thinking about the immediate needs of the market and my passions. Within a year, I realized that the business I was building was more of a short-term project instead of a long-term business. I encourage new entrepreneurs to think about the longevity of their businesses: Is this something you’ll be able to passionately work on for decades? – Nathalie Lussier, AccessAlly

7. Are You Protecting Your IP?

One of the most important assets of your business is its intellectual property. Everyone who works for your company should sign an agreement that makes it clear that the IP they work on for the company will belong to your company. This will provide peace of mind to you and potential investors, showing that it is less likely that a worker will take your IP to start a competing business. – Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

8. Do You Have a Marketing Strategy?

I think all entrepreneurs should worry about marketing — whether it’s through content marketing, email blasts, referrals, direct response, etc. — their businesses properly to ensure they’re going to reach the right audiences to sell their products or services. Without effective marketing, it’s very difficult to build a profitable business. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Fem Founder

Brand identity

9. Do You Have a Brand?

Creating your first business requires you to build your brand from the ground up. You’re going to want to think about things like your logo, website design and brand voice. If you want to succeed, it’s crucial that you figure out your brand purpose, voice, and design before moving forward. – David Henzel, LTVPlus

10. Do You Know Your Customers?

When starting a new business, many people make the mistake of falling in love with their service or product when they should really be falling in love with their ideal client. Get to know your customer in and out. What are their pain points, what do they need, what are their fears and what unmet and unconsidered needs do they have? Tailor your product or service to that. – Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

11. Why Do People Need Your Product?

Chances are there is already a product or service similar to what you’re selling, so before launching your new business make sure you have clear and definitive ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. If you can’t show the public why they need your product, you’ll be starting behind the pack and it will be hard to gain momentum. – Andrew Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

12. Do You Have Support?

It’s highly unlikely that you will be able to run your business entirely on your own. Establish a support team to provide assistance early on in the startup process. These individuals don’t necessarily have to be employees on your company payroll, but rather, a close family member, friend or mentor. Utilizing your network of trusted individuals can make the difference between success or failure. – Susan Rebner, Cyleron, Inc.

Entrepreneur managing business expenses

13. Have You Estimated Costs?

Many businesses end up in the red when they underestimate the costs of running their operations. You should always overestimate how much you think you need to pay for fixed costs, such as rent, and variable costs, such as direct materials. Also, keep emergency savings if you can, so that you can break even at the very least. – Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.

14. Can You Stick to Your Budget?

It’s easy to want to go all out on your first business and spend every penny you’ve got perfecting your marketing strategy, but this is a terrible idea. You shouldn’t have to go broke to keep your business afloat no matter how new it is. With enough planning and drafting, you can make your first business a successful endeavor while keeping money in the bank. – Jared Atchison, WPForms