Questions to Ask Any Business

We've all seen them--businesses that fail because they have never been properly thought through.  If you are a startup, there are any number of lean ways to structure your fledgling business so that you know the answers to critical questions.  

If you are taking a job with a company, there are questions you should get the answers to either before (by research) or during (by asking questions) an interview.  Below are some questions to ask any business before you invest time and/or money in the concept, or take a position offered to you that's going to significantly change your lifestyle.

Why are you in this type of business?

Can you provide me with a brief description of your business?

How long have you been in business? In this business? In other businesses?

What type of business do you have, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation?

What are the advantages of this type of business ownership?

How did you get started in this business?

How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?

How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?

Do you know who your competitors are?

How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business?

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?

Do you plan to compete in the global market place? If yes, how? If no, why not?

How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?

Why is your business located at this site?

Whom do you seek advice from for your business?

What do you do with your profits?

Do you have a business plan to operate your business?

Does your business have a stated mission statement, the reason that this business exists?

Do you have employees? How many?

Do you do marketing for your business?

Can you describe your customers?

Why do your customers select you over your competitors?

Are there any ethical concerns that your type of business must deal with?

How do you overcome these ethical problems?

What is your management style?

What are the biggest issues for running this business?

What is the future for this type of business?

If something happens to you, what will happen to your business?

If you can't answer these questions clearly about the business you are joining, it is time to do some more research.  The more you know, the less risk you take on and lessen the chances that you will make a bad decision.