You’ve decided to start a business. You have an idea and a concept. You have something that you want to share with the world, whether it’s a product, a service or your personal expertise. You probably also have some goals in mind: how much you want to earn, and where and how you want to work. All of this is good.

You’ve probably bounced your idea off of a few people. Family. Friends. Maybe even your barista. Everyone has been encouraging and supportive. They seem to be excited about your idea, which makes you feel excited too.

More than 650,000 new businesses are started in the United States each year. About a third of them will fail within the first two years. That happens for a variety of reasons, but often the cause can be traced to how well the core business concept was thought out. The concept itself may have been good, but no one asked the right questions. No one asked the hard questions. As a result, the business owner forged ahead, possibly on less than perfect information.

Sometimes wrong assumptions or missing pieces can be fixed along the way. Sometimes they can’t. The difference also lies in asking the right questions at the right time.

Why do some new businesses succeed while others fail? Why do some companies grow faster, and stronger, while others find growth to be even more challenging than startup? Questions. Answers. Information. And: They need to be the right questions, with the right answers. The information that comes out of this process will only be as good as the inputs that go into it.

Thinking through your concept means drilling down and asking yourself layers of questions that focus on the Why (‘Why is what I have to offer needed in the marketplace?’), Who (‘Who is my best prospect?’), How (‘How will I get my offering in front of them?’) and What (‘What do I want them to do once they notice me?’)

Those questions barely scratch the surface, but you get the point.

The person you should be sharing your business concept with should be an expert who will ask you the questions that need to be asked and then work with you to think through the answers. And yes, this advisor should also be encouraging and supportive but, most importantly, she should challenge you to build the very best business that you can.

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