The Six Things You Need to Know Before You Start a Business

Aidan Kenealy
4 min readJan 16, 2019

What do you need to know before you to start a business? It’s a good question and one I get asked a lot.

In general, if people are asking this question, they tend to be looking for encouragement or validation of an idea, which is understandable. Often, however, when people hear the practical realities of what is required to get a business off the ground, most quickly lose the sparkle in their eye. It’s a shame to see, but the reality is that is not easy to start a business, nor is that business guaranteed to succeed.

I always feel better having some real-world context before I venture into the unknown. Therefore, here are six practical realities to be aware of before starting a business.

1. It will take much more effort than you could ever imagine.

Seek out anyone that has started a business. Ask them how much effort was required to get their idea off the ground and they will say something like “double what you image, and then square it”. This is particularly true in the world of ‘tech start-ups’.

It can take years of hard work before companies start to show signs of product adoption, scaled growth, or profitability. It can be a hard thing to endure and it will take an emotional toll on all facets of your life. This needs to be understood before you start.

2. You must know WHY your business should exist.

This can be difficult to articulate, and it is something that founders often miss entirely. Founders often know what they will do, some know how they will do it, but few really know why. Logically, without knowing why your business should exist, there is little to inform how and what your business will do. Further, if you don’t know why your business should exist, then your customers certainly won’t either. This concept is what Simon Sinek describes as the ‘golden circle’ and itis a concept worth googling before you start.

3. Decide what you can realistically lose and stick to it.

All new businesses require start-up capital but not all businesses succeed. As such, when you start a business you need to be comfortable with the potential of losing any investment you make. This includes the opportunity cost of lost salaries…

Aidan Kenealy

Professional startup advisor for founders of high growth startups. More details @