By Janet Zablock, Global Small Business, Visa Inc.​

The dream of owning a small business is compelling. But before making the leap to becoming an entrepreneur, there are more than a few important questions to answer. Here are my top three based on discussions I’ve had with small business owners.

Have I thought through the unexpected?

Are you prepared for holiday surges? Competition? Delayed inventory? Think about the various peaks and valleys your business will face throughout the year. When you meet with your banker (which should be one of your first steps), it will help to discuss these aspects so you can develop a plan to prepare for the inevitable financial surprises that your business will encounter.

How will my customers pay for my goods/services? 

Giving your customers the choice and flexibility to pay for their goods and services can ease the payment process and encourage repeat business. Nearly seventy percent of small business owners said that accepting electronic payments has improved their financial management, according to Visa’s 2012 Small Business Cash Management Survey.[1] Accepting debit and credit cards can help save money and time and contribute to business growth by streamlining the financial process.

How will I manage my business expenses?

Cash management is a major challenge for every small business owner — even for those with a financial background. Yet, there are ways to simplify your expense and receivable ledgers. Using a business credit card for your expenses is a great way to track your expenses and those of your employees. Many of these cards are equipped with easy cash management solutions designed to ensure you get the most from your transactions — like reporting and analytics to help you maximize spending and remove the stress of filing paper receipts.

Starting a business is a bold step that will draw on your creative genius, your managerial might and your accumulated skills. With proper foresight and thoughtful consideration, you can reduce unproductive time spent on paperwork and focus on making that dream a profitable reality.

Janet Zablock – Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc.

Janet directs the development and implementation of the strategic vision for Visa Business products targeted at the SMB segment. Previously, she was Head of Commercial Specialized Sales for Visa Inc. and has also held a variety of other corporate positions at Bank of America and McDonalds Corporation.

3 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business