hy do you want to start a company? What are your goals? Do you seek financial independence? Career independence? Do you dream of seeing a few million people using your product? Or of seeing a few million dollars in sales? Have you always dreamed of starting a company?

Is there a problem in the world you want to solve? A problem you see every day in other businesses or as you go through life? Is no one else solving this problem? Will this problem go unsolved unless you start a company to fix it?

QUESTION 1

Do I (really) want to start a company?

A good way to help answer this question is to break it down into a series of forward-looking questions, centered around what you expect your company and your job to look like five years from now.

QUESTION 2

What do I expect my company to look like in 5 years?
($1 million, $10 million, or $100 million in sales? How many employees?)

QUESTION 3

What do I personally want to be doing in 5 years? 3 years? 2 years? Next year?
(CEO, CTO, sales, product development, advisor to the company, etc.)

QUESTION 4

Am I prepared to quit my current job and work at the new company full-time?

QUESTION 5

Why do I want to start this startup? To solve a problem, to be rich, both, or something else?

QUESTION 6

At work, what makes me happy? Excited? Eager to start a new day?

The answers to these questions will help you decide whether you want to start up and operate a new company or whether you are just dreaming about being an entrepreneur, without a compelling reason to make it actually happen.

If you are ready, these answers will then help determine the scale of the company to be built and, in turn, the path and size of any fundraising. And with these answers, you should have sufficient information to decide the answer to question #1: whether to pursue this opportunity as a company at all.

After deciding to move forward, your next decision is whether to get this company started on your own (or with your current team, if you are not alone) or whether to search for a co-founder to join you in this process.

QUESTION 7

Do I start this company alone, or seek a co-founder?

Building a business is not a linear process. At this point, many of you will not have anywhere near enough information to know the best answer to this question. Even when you do answer a question, you will often have to revise that answer based on answers to later questions. So take your time as you move through these questions, skip ahead if need be, and return to the beginning when your thoughts are in line.

Back to the matter at hand. If you decide to seek a co-founder (a.k.a. a partner), it is still useful to answer all of these questions yourself, as those answers will be at your disposal when your new partner asks you similar questions. If you decide to go forward on your own, the answers will guide your business plans. Thus, either way, these questions are important to the process.

QUESTION 8

Do I seek a mentor, set of advisors, incubator and/or accelerator?

With answers to questions one through seven, you will have not only a far better understanding of the process you have chosen to undertake, but you should also have a list of questions you can focus on. Some questions will stand out to you as needing better answers. To get those answers, consider finding a mentor or collection of advisors, or seek out one of the many accelerator programs.

I can assure you that turning your idea into a company is difficult. The process requires a tremendous amount of work, across a wide range of disciplines. Many of these disciplines will be new to you. That said, this is a well-trodden path, followed hundreds of thousands of times each year by people just like you. It is made possible by a network of service providers who can fill in much of the experience and labor that might otherwise present an impassible hurdle.

This process will take time. It will require a vast number of decisions. And it will often take multiple leaps of faith, demanding that you make these decisions with far too little information to know what is best.


This series has been curated from Luni’s book, The Next Step: Guiding You From Idea to Startup. For more on business planning, planning your marketing and sales efforts, creating a financial model, crafting a great pitch, raising capital, and splitting the pie with your team, check out the complete series.

About the author

Michael Luni Libes

Luni is a 25+ year serial entrepreneur, (co)founder of six companies.

His latest startups are Fledge, the conscious company accelerator, where he helps new entrepreneurs from around the world navigate the complexities between idea and customer revenues, and investorflow.org, an online service connecting impact investors.

In addition, Luni is Entrepreneur in Residence and Entrepreneurship Instructor at Presidio Graduate School and an Entrepreneur in Residence Emeritus at the University of Washington’s CoMotion, the center for innovation and impact.

Luni is author of The Next Step series of books, guiding entrepreneurs from idea to startup and The Pinchot Impact Index, a way to measure, compare, and aggregate impact.