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Before Launching a Business, Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

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How to know whether the sacrifice is worth it.

October 16, 2020 4 min read

This story appears in the October 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: I have a startup idea…but how do I know whether it’s worth my time to pursue — Nia, Chicago

That’s a very important question. In fact, it might be the most important question — and many entrepreneurs bypass it on the road to independence. We’re so excited by our 2 a.m. epiphany that we don’t want to know the answer. We fear that this is our one and only shot, and that another great idea may never come. But if you skip this self-audit, you may face massive consequences for years to come.

The consequence is this: opportunity cost. 

When starting a new endeavor, we focus so much on what we might gain that we overlook what else we might have done. Despite all the deification of entrepreneurs and the glorification of the hustle culture, building a business is really hard. It is a long, painful, lonely slog. It is not a flip. You are enlisting to serve in a war that will take five years to arrive on high ground. Five years to even catch your breath and maybe have a full night of sleep. Is this how you want to devote these years — instead of to another, perhaps wiser path?

To know the answer, begin by asking yourself these five questions:

1. Is my idea a stand-alone business or just a feature?

I’ve made some of my worst professional mistakes by becoming enamored with my clever idea and never bothering to ask myself this critical question. The reality is, most great ideas are still great — they are just not businesses. They are enhancements. 

Related: 4 Tips for Launching a Business While Working From Home

2. Am I running away from something or toward something?

The worst decisions are fueled by escapism. Make sure you are pursuing a way forward, not a way out. Once the crisis abates, you may be left doing something that doesn’t inspire you in peaceful times. 

3. Is this a solution in search of a problem?

You can present a solution that nobody knew they wanted (see the iPod), but you will never convince people to buy a solution to a problem they don’t think they have (see Google Glass).

4. Are there enough people willing to pay me for my solution to make this business big enough to at least satisfy my basic needs?

Yes, it’s a business, but if it can’t feed your family and pay for a vacation to Disney World one day, what’s the point? They don’t give out medals — or distributions — for trying. 

Related: Are You Productive, or Just Busy?

5. Will this sustain my attention during the dark times, when my star employee quits (or my toxic employee won’t)?

Imagine the world going to hell all at once. (For helpful precedent, see 2020.) Now ask yourself, against this backdrop, and endless nights of sleep deprivation, Will I get up in the morning and say, “This is still worth it”?

As you ask yourself those five questions, remember this: The real challenge when launching a business is not just forecasting your opportunity cost today but fully considering your future evolved self. The question is not What am I capable of doing right now? but What am I capable of doing five years from now? What is the best version of myself capable of doing, not the person staring back at me in the mirror? These are abstract questions, to be sure, but important ones — because you’re not just making a decision about what to do now. You’re betting on your future.

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Business

Ask the Commissioner: How Can We Keep Restaurants Open?

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October 27, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a former entrepreneur and immigrant New Yorker, I have experienced many of the challenges our small business owners face — from navigating city regulations to seeking necessary resources. Now, as the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, it is my main priority to respond, advise, and connect these small business owners to the help they need during this difficult time. Covid-19 is a health crisis that’s triggered an economic crisis, and our small businesses are dealing with the crippling effects. While my focus is on NYC, many of the questions and concerns we hear from small business owners here are likely to be shared by entrepreneurs across the country. So once a month, I’ll be writing this column to tackle a few of the questions we’re getting the most.

In New York, the nearly 27,000 restaurants across our five boroughs play a major role in our economy, contributing to the vibrancy of our commercial corridors and the diversity of our city. This month, many business owners have questions about re-opening their restaurants. Here are a few of their most pressing inquiries:

I applied to participate in the Open Restaurants program but have not gotten a response yet. How do I check the status of my application?

A: During the pandemic, one key initiative that developed as an immediate response to help NYC’s restaurant industry was the Open Restaurants program. It allowed restaurants across the five boroughs to use their outdoor space to serve their customers and keep New Yorkers employed. Over 10,500 restaurants applied and are participating, bringing back over 90,000 jobs.

The City has made the application for the Open Restaurants program swift and easy. After filling out an application to self-certify, a confirmation email is sent from the Department of Transportation to you. If you haven’t received anything, check your spam folder.

Related: 3 Ways to Support Minority-Owned Businesses

You can also visit the Open Restaurants interactive dashboard to search your business name or location. If you’re on this list, you’re ready to participate.

Open Restaurants is now year-round, aiding in the restaurant industry’s recovery and providing patrons with a safe way to enjoy their favorite cuisine. Participants in the Open Restaurants program who are interested in providing comfort heating for their customers in outdoor dining areas can now have heating devices. These heating devices are subject to the applicable guidance from FDNY and/or DOB. For more information visit nyc.gov/openrestaurants.

What should I do if I do not have a central air system?

A: We are doing everything we can to keep our city safe, and our four main tenets are helping us to accomplish this: Wash your hands, wear a face covering, practice social distancing, and stay home if you are sick. These guidelines, coupled with industry-specific information, are designed to create a healthier city. The latest guidelines are for restaurants wishing to reopen their indoor dining.

We know that not all restaurants can have central AC, so the following can be used to promote a safe working environment for you and your customers, while helping you avoid costly fines:

  • Invest in a portable air cleaner. When selecting one, consider units that provide the highest air change rate at appropriate performance level and do not generate harmful byproducts.

  • Open your windows. This will allow occupancy safety and comfort of occupants.

  • Prioritize window fans. Avoid using fans that recirculate air, set blower fans to low speed, and point them away from occupants. If your business has a ceiling fan, have it draw air upwards away from occupants.

  • Regularly inspect room ventilation systems. Ventilation systems must be properly operating and running for several hours daily. You may also set room ventilation systems to maximize fresh air intake.

  • Adopt additional ventilation and air filtration protocols. For more information on CDC and ASHRAE recommendations, please visit here.

Small Business Services works to help small business owners comply with city regulations before it becomes an issue. Our compliance advisors help small business owners understand common challenges through our virtual consultations. This educational tool is key to avoiding costly fines and penalties and is available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Haitian Creole. Visit us at nyc.gov/business to set up a virtual compliance consultation.

I operate dinner boats. Can I reopen along with restaurants?

A: Business owners should always be clear on their primary business operation. Using the Business Reopening Look Up Tool, businesses can review industry-specific public health and safety guidelines.

Cruise liners can operate as restaurants and may leave their dock to serve their customers. However, they must follow indoor dining rules and regulations. This includes operating at a 25 percent capacity, checking clients’ temperature, ensuring ventilation, and more. For a full list of indoor dining regulations, visit nyc.gov/restaurantreopening.

Does SBS have any recruitment services I can use to hire more people for my restaurant?

A: Small Business Services is charged with helping our small business grow and thrive. One key way we do this is by helping New Yorkers find jobs and connecting businesses with the talent they need. Our Virtual Workforce1 Career Centers have been working with over 500 employers to fill 9,800 positions in food service, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and warehousing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve assisted over 700 businesses with over 12,600 job opportunities, connected over 3,800 New Yorkers to jobs with an average of $17.14 per hour, and helped almost 50,000 job seekers. 

Restaurants are critical to our city at this time — they are a place where people can come together and break bread. This industry also employs over 300,000 New Yorkers across the five boroughs. Whether you dine inside, outdoors, or do takeout, it is important to support our restaurants. SBS is here to help and we are committed to supporting the unrivaled diversity of our restaurant community.

Related: New York City Offers Funding, Credit and Free Programs for Women Entrepreneurs. Here’s a Rundown.

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Claudia Sheinbaum positive for COVID-19

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The CDMX head of government announced on her social networks that she will continue working while she complies with the quarantine.

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October 27, 2020 1 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

The head of government of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum announced through Twitter that she gave positive in her COVID-19 test on Monday night, October 26.

The president indicated that so far she has no symptoms, but she will continue working remotely to comply with the Sana Distancia rules of the Mexican capital.

According to figures from the Ministry of Health (SSA), Mexico City has reported 156 thousand cases of COVID-19 with 14,837 deaths in the eight months that the Sana Distancia measures take.

In a moment more information …

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VIDEO: They create a 'helmet' that protects against COVID-19 for 60 hours

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This “land diving suit” will cost $ 379 or about 7,900 Mexican pesos and will be available in November.

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!

October 27, 2020 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

In Latin America we usually say that necessity is the mother of ingenuity , and we have seen that very clearly due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 . Not for nothing in recent months we have seen hundreds of alliterations of face masks and sanitizing products.

Given this, the Canadian company VYZR Technologies decided to take this innovation one step further and, in true science fiction style, develop a neoprene capsule to protect people from SARSCov2.

Gif: VYZR Technologies

This device, which to be honest looks like a space helmet from movies like Alien , is called BioVYZR and has two fans that charge its battery through a 5V USB type A port.

Its filters are made with KN95 particles: one 12 centimeters in diameter that cleans the incoming air, and another eight centimeters that filters the outlet air. According to the company’s website , each pair of filters offers up to 60 hours of clean air under normal conditions and each BioVYZR comes with 10 filters.

The BioVYZR fits seals around the neck and chest and covers the entire head. It weighs 2.25 kilograms in its adult model, although it will soon have a variety of sizes, and it can be adjusted with straps.

How much will it cost? This land diving suit, which will be available in November, will sell for $ 379 or about 7,900 Mexican pesos at the current exchange rate.

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