67 Most Asked Questions by Entrepreneurs

30 mins read

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or launched your first startup, you will have so many questions in your mind. It’s also very common that you don’t have any mentor and there’s no one to guide you. All you have left if your own judgment and a few other websites like Quora and Reddit.

I know that it’s a very common thing. So, I thought that why should I not compile a list of 67 most asked questions by a newbie entrepreneur.

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The questions are gathered from our own database where startup entrepreneurs ask questions, Quora, Reddit, and a few other forums. But, all of the answers are written by me.

Table of Content


Heads up

  • This story has 5500 words which translate to around 30 pages. The approximate reading time is around 30 mins.
  • I have written some answers that contradict to what other people say. I have written all answers based on my experience. I believe that the answer will be suitable for everyone, but if you think that the answer will not be applicable to your case, you’re free to do what’s best for you.

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What is present here for you?

I have written this 5500 words story so that you get real answers to 67 most asked questions by new entrepreneurs. I consider new entrepreneur as those people who’re yet to start a startup or just started their first startup.

When I looking at the answers on Quora, I saw that many answers were like “It depends”. It did not answer the question correctly and the person who asked the question did not get what he was looking for. For example, if a question is should I quit my 9-5 job to raise a startup then the answer would be like it depends. It clearly did not answer the question. The answer to this question should either be “Yes” or “No” with some additional good points.

I have made sure that I don’t put answers like this. Even when I have written the answer as “it depends”, I have categorized situations and written the exact answer for each situation. Just check which situation you belong to and follow the answer accordingly.


List of Questions

Now, that you have all the things you want to know before starting a company, let’s get to the questions.

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Marketing

Q1: How can I market a startup at a very low budget?

Topic – marketing

I Innovate is doing all kinds of marketing without spending a single penny. One of the best forms of marketing nowadays is content marketing and answering on Q&A sites like Quora and Reddit. Write lots and lots of blog posts on your site so that you get visitors. If you’re a B2B startup then write lots of case studies. You can also answer the relevant questions on Quora so get more visibility. Your product should also be good so that when someone uses your product, he would tell others to use your product.

Q2: How do I research my competitors?

Topic – marketing

A quick Google search will show your so many things. But, the only bulletproof way to research your competitor is to ask their customers. Talk to their customer that how is your competitor serving them. After talking to multiple customers, you’ll get all the insights of your competitors.

Q3: Many marketers focus on building emotional connections with consumers to make them buy their products. Is that right?

Topic – marketing

The attention span of a people in 2018 is only 2 seconds. You cannot make anyone emotional in 2 seconds unless you show a really depressing image. So, it’s better to build a trust rather than making someone emotional. Revolve your marketing around building trust.

You need to tell stories to your customers. If you’re making a video of your product, make sure that you explain the problem, how your product is going to solve it, what are other benefits of your product. Don’t use “buy”, “purchase”, or related words till the end. Just show how your product solves the problem.

Q4: Can social media marketing really help my business?

Topic – marketing

Yes. It’s the best way to stay connected with your customers and potential customers. You can share your important info like launch date, discount, etc. on social media. I have never seen social media doing any harm to a startup.

Q5: How do I build an audience on social media?

Topic – marketing

If you don’t have money to buy ads, there are only two ways that can significantly gain you followers. These are following other accounts and shoutout for shoutout.

Start following people who might be interested in your product. In return, many of them will follow back. To follow those relevant people, open your competitors’ accounts and start following them. Once you have around 500 followers, start doing shoutout for shoutout. This means that you ask your followers to follow someone else’s account and in return, that account will also share a related post to their followers.

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Q6: How do I evaluate social media marketing?

Topic – marketing

There are two methods. One is ongoing analytics, and another is Campaign analytics.

Ongoing analytics are necessary for keeping up with the overall pulse of general conversation about your brand and company. Once your brand tracking is set up, you can just let it run and check in regularly to see how everything is going.

Campaign-focused metrics, on the other hand, help you understand the impact of targeted marketing initiatives and will vary from campaign to campaign, depending on your goals for each. An effective social media measurement program will likely include both ongoing and campaign-specific measurement.

Q7: How do I start promoting my company?

Topic – marketing

I am assuming that you have already set up a website, blog, social media, local listing like Google Maps, etc. Start contributing on forums and Q&A sites like Quora. Don’t hard-sell. Always soft-sell. Answer questions that are relevant to your product or service. Never ask them to buy your product. Simply show them that how can they solve their problem with your product. Your answer should be genuine because you need them to trust you. if you simply write that your product does it then they won’t buy your product. Actually, show them by providing screenshots that how they can do that.

Q8: How can I come up with a great name for my business?

Topic – marketing

Brainstorm with a bunch of different names. Make sure that they are easy to spell. Make them interesting. Then do a Google search to see what is already taken, and that will eliminate 95% of your choices.

Do a trademark/tradename search on the name. Then make sure you can get the domain name.

Q9: How can I obtain the domain name I want?

Topic – marketing

Just go to godaddy.com and search the domain name. If it’s available then purchase it. If it’s not available then look for another.

Q10: How can I drive traffic to my website for my business?

Topic – marketing

The most effective way is to write articles on other similar sites as yours and then put a link back to your site. The second most effective free method is to post answers on quora.com and reddit.com, and then put a link to the most relevant article of your website at the end.

Q11: How does a new business get its first client?

Topic – marketing

Most people say that you need to build a website, set up a store, buy a hotline number before starting a business. The exact opposite is what you should do. You first need to get a client and then spend time on these activities. You can get your first client by asking your friends and family. Your very customers will be your friends, friends of friends, local neighbors, or even your family.


Funding

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Q12: How do I find investors for my startup?

Topic – funding

One of the deciding points for an investor to fund a startup is to see the x-factor. It should be positive and high.
u(T) = u(0)e(xT)
u(t) = user at time T=T
u(0) = user at time T=0
x = x factor

If you have an idea only, then it’s unlikely that you’ll get any funding. You need to start getting customers to get funding, and customers will only come when you have a working product or prototype.

Q13: How likely will it be that I can get venture capital funding?

Topic – funding

Chances are rare. You need to have a product based company and must have a good customer growth record. You cannot raise any money just by telling your idea. You need to launch the product by spending your own money or borrowing it from your family and friends.

Q14: How can I get a venture capitalist to pay attention to me?

Topic – funding

Acquire customers rapidly.

Q15: Why do venture capitalist say No and how do I make them say Yes

Topic – funding

There are two ways to measure a startup traction.

One is increasing in revenue over a period of a week. If a startup is offering its services for free then the measure would be the increase in active users. If you see that the rate of growth is just 1% over a week which means that startup would grow only 1.7x over a year. If the rate of growth is 5% per week then startup would grow around 8x in a year. Venture capitalists pay a lot of attention over this growth. If the growth per week is 1-2% they say No because they can invest money in some other startup where they can get a better return on their investment. To make them say Yes, increase the growth to at least 5% per week.

Q16: How do I send my business pitch to investors?

Topic – funding
Make a list of investors you’re going to approach. Mail every one of them your business pitch. Don’t keep the sound of the mail as too much salesy or you want the funding badly.


Getting a startup idea

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Q17: What are the best ways to think of ideas for a startup?

Topic – Getting a startup idea
In today’s world, people want everything at the speed of light. Start thinking about speed and convenience, and build a product. People pay $24 for an Uber because they find Uber very convenient to use. People pay $500 for a flight rather than drive because it’s faster and more convenient for them. People want convenience at such extent that they even want self-driving cars so that they can sit and relax and let the car does the job.

Q18: How to know if your startup idea already exists?

Topic – Getting a startup idea

If your idea consists of having something over a website, you can use Google hacks to search if your idea already exists or not. Make a list of 2-3 phrases that perfectly describe your product. Enclose those keywords within the quotation mark and search on Google. Google will show only those results where it finds the exact phrase. For ex, if your idea is having an online store for a pen with light, just google “pen with light”, “light pen”, “luminescence pen”. Don’t forget to use quotation mark.

Q19: What are some good startup ideas?

Topic – Getting a startup idea

Good ideas are those which will make your customers life faster and more convenient. I already have a list of 67 business ideas that costs less than $1000 to start. You may want to refer to that story.

Q20: What should I do if I have an idea for a startup, but I have no money or resources whatsoever?

Topic – Getting a startup idea

First, you need to use the money in your bank account. The next point of contact would be family and friends. Make sure that you give a share of your company to them so that they’ll be more interested. The third point of contact is the bank. Take a loan that is enough to build and validate a prototype. Once you’ve built the prototype, show it to your potential customers and note down their feedback. Get customers rapidly. Then show the feedback to investors and you’ll have the funding.

Q21: I have an invention idea. What do I do to check that someone hasn’t already invented this idea?

Topic – Getting a startup idea

Do a quick google search and check if it’s already taken or not. Go to the US Patents and Trademark site (http://www.uspto.gov/) and then search.


Hiring

Q22: What are the first 5 hires should I make?

Topic – Hiring

In a startup, it’s not like that cofounders don’t work on bottom rated tasks like replying to someone’s comment on Instagram. Cofounders do the same things that employees do. There’s no hierarchy present.

Hiring depends on the skills of co-founders. In I Innovate, we have three co-founders. One is good at marketing, one is good at sales, and one is good at finance. So, the spots left are product development, designers, editors, and engineers. So, we’ll be hiring based on these skills.

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Q23: How big should a stock option pool for employees be?

Topic – Hiring

15-20%. Standard vesting for options is 4 years, with a one-year “cliff vesting” and monthly vesting after that. “Cliff vesting” in this context means the employee must be employed by the company for a minimum of one year before the employee earns any of the options.

Q24: Should I allow my employees to work remotely?

Topic – Hiring

If you don’t have enough money to have an office for your employees then allow them to work remotely. If you have enough money for an office then ask them to come to the office. However, a recent study shows that some people work better when they work from home. So, what you can do is leave up to your employees whether they want to work from home or not. If they choose to work from home, ask them to come to the office at least once a week.

Q25: How to avoid hiring the wrong people for the startup?

Topic – Hiring

Companies and startups hire people based on what they say in the interview room, previous employer, relevant experience, fancy degree, and college, etc. These things do not show the bigger picture completely. Before hiring a person, ask two questions yourself. 1: Can this person do the job. 2: Is this person going to get better at this job? If the answer for both questions is “Yes”, hire that person.


Legal

Q26: Should I form my company as C corporation, an S corporation, an LLC, a partnership or a sole proprietorship?

Topic – Legal

Start it as an S corporation. If you have to issue both common stock and preferred stock then start it as a C corporation. An S corporation can easily be converted later into a C corporation. LLCs are popular but are equally complicated. Partnerships and sole proprietorships are to be avoided because of the potential personal liability to the owners of the business.

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Q27: Do I need a lawyer to start a business?

Topic – Legal

No. If it’s a simple business with one owner, as you can incorporate through online services. But, it’s usually a good idea to have an experienced business lawyer on your team who has advised many start-ups. Hire only a business lawyer, not a divorce lawyer. Experience matters a lot in legal stuff.

Q28: How should equity be divided among co-founders of a start-up?

Topic – Legal

The most common method is based on the money each co-founder is putting in a month over the next 12 months. For example, if one co-founder is putting $400 per month and another is putting $600 per month then the first cofounder gets 40% and another gets 60%.

Q29: Where should I incorporate my business?

Topic – Legal

We don’t provide any recommendations but approach a lawyer to incorporate your business.


Manufacturing

Q30: Is outsourcing the manufacture to China a good decision?

Topic – Manufacturing

Yes. China provides so many options and features that can cut down your manufacturing cost. Plus it also provides a good shipping option.


Payment

Q31: My clients pay my invoices after months. What should I do?

Topic – Payment

Get paid upfront. If you think that having a contract will solve the problem, it won’t. Problem is, contract just means that you can try to go through court to get the court to order them to pay you. Even if you win in court it does not mean you’ll be able to collect. Have some samples/portfolio, show them that as proof of your ability to do the work, then get the money and only after that make them their stuff.


scaling

Q32: When does a startup stop being a startup and become a normal company?

Topic – Scaling

I feel that startups turn into a normal company when interactions across hierarchy are formalized i.e. when you can’t walk into CEO’s office to pitch your idea, when they have strict rules on who to hire like certain years of experience, graduated from a top university, etc. However, there’s a difference between startup culture and a startup. A startup should declassify itself as a startup after crossing a threshold of revenue, but it can still carry on the startup culture.

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Q33: How Reddit and Quora got past the chicken and egg problem of having no content/users

Topic – Scaling

Quora and Reddit solved the “empty site = no users/no users = empty site” problem in similar ways.

The founders of both services spent the first months filling them with content themselves. On Quora, the founders simply answered and asked lots of questions under their own profiles. But the reddit approach was a bit more interesting. Instead of just using their own accounts, the founders would create fake users to make it look like there were multiple people submitting links.

Their ‘submit link’ form featured a third slot: “Username”. According to Steve Huffman, reddit co-founder, it took several months until they didn’t have to submit content themselves to fill up the front page. They also focused on keeping everybody in the same place in the beginning. reddit had no subreddits, and Quora was mostly focused on technology. Instead of having users spread out, everyone was in the same place, making the community feel bigger than it was.


Validation

Q34: I have created an alpha version of my product. Now how do I make other people test it?

Topic – Validation

  1. Post it on hacker news.
  2. Use LinkedIn bot (LinkedIn helper) to send some personalized invites to developers asking on opinion.
  3. Post it on beta list.
  4. Create blog connected to your domain blog.product.com.
  5. Post that on reddit

Miscellaneous

Q34: How much should I capitalize my business with at the beginning?

Topic – Miscellaneous

If you’re bootstrapping then you can put only as much as you can afford. If you’re funded then keep enough money so that you run for at least 6-9 months. If you’re a service based company then first get a client and then buy the office supplies and product that are used to deliver the project.

Q35: Why do startups fail?

Topic – Miscellaneous

The biggest reason most startups fail because they cannot find customers to sell their product which ultimately leads to the empty bank balance. Most cofounders make mistake of while validating their idea, and they assume that there is a good demand for their upcoming product. The second biggest reason is improper execution. They have a good idea and there’s demand, but they could not execute the idea properly.

Q36: What are the early symptoms that a startup is going to fail?

Topic – Miscellaneous

If the cofounders aren’t passionate enough or the startup is not getting enough customers then it’s going to fail.

Q37: I want to quit my job and open a startup. Is this a good idea?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Quitting a job to start a company is always a good idea. However, before taking this risk, I recommend you to keep everything ready like a business plan, model, idea validation, etc. It’s better to figure out that something is wrong in your idea when you have a job than when you don’t.

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Q38: What is actually needed for a startup?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Here’s the recipe: From a bag full of ideas, select a fresh & ripe one, add to it a tablespoon of zeal, a jug full of patience, a tea spoon of money, a cup of grated team members, a pinch of effort & hard work for each of the team members you added. Mix all the ingredients well. Before serving, for garnish sprinkle some knowledge, confidence, and dedication on top. Bake for 365 days at 15+ hrs a day to get the perfect crust & do not overcook. Your startup is ready to serve! Be careful the dish is best served hot!

Q39: How big a factor is a luck in startup success?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Luck exists. But it will only work when you have a great product. Let’s say that you’re working out of a cafe and out of the blue Bill Gates comes. You both chatted and then you showed him your product, and he wants to acquire your company. Bill Gates met you out of luck, but his willingness to buy your company is because your product is great.

Q40: My girlfriend is asking me to choose between my startup and her. What should I do?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Hire her

Q41: What does it feel like being the CEO of a startup?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Tough. But, It depends on the attitude of the CEO. Yes, challenges are there. If you have a positive mental attitude, you’ll feel motivated that everyday life is giving you a new challenge and you need to overcome it. You get to meet new people, you nurture a team right from the very beginning, you are going to be an expert in your field, you got a chance to work 24 hours for your idea. If you have a negative attitude then you’ll feel stressed that life is giving you lots of problems, your team is not experienced, you have to be an expert in your field, you have to work 24 hours a day.

Q42: How do I find a co-founder for my startup?

Topic – Miscellaneous

The best place to look for a co-founder is your school or college friends, and your colleagues. If that doesn’t work out, attend some meetups via meetup.com and announce that you’re looking for a co-founder. That’s how most of the co-founders are met.

Having more than one founder is very important for a startup. Many investors don’t even fund a startup with only 1 founder. It’s best to have 3 co-founders so that the third can break the tie between the two.

Q43: Do I need to need to be a demigod with insanely high willpower and productivity to have a revenue of millions of dollars per year?

Topic – Miscellaneous

No, you don’t. There’s no evidence that having high willpower and productivity will get your startup millions of dollars in revenue. What required is discipline. You need to do the things that valuable for your startup every day. It doesn’t matter if that task is very boring.

Q44: How do I start a new business with no experience?

Topic – Miscellaneous

There’s no answer to this. You just need to start a business and keep on reading books on startups. If you can afford those expensive seminars on startups then you can go. But, a few good books on startup will give you almost all aspects of running a startup.

Q45: What resources can one access online to learn the basics of being an entrepreneur and entrepreneurship?

Topic – Miscellaneous

The Internet is there for you. Whenever you’re stuck with a problem, just google that problem. If you want a more personalized answer then ask it on Quora or Reddit. You can also ask us entrepreneur related questions at [email protected].

Q46: How do I find a startup mentor to build a deep relationship with?

Topic – Miscellaneous

There are many good and experienced entrepreneurs who mentor someone for free just because they like it. The question is how to find them. I found my mentor via meetup.com. I went for a meetup which was on “startup lessons” by a person who runs 2 million dollar startups. I chatted with him after the session and we became friends. A few days later, I asked him whether he’d be willing to mentee me and he gladly accepted.

Q47: Do I need a business plan to be a successful entrepreneur?

Topic – Miscellaneous

No, it’s not mandatory. But having it gives you so much deeper knowledge of the business. I remember that I also refused to create a business plan for the first 4 months. I thought that I knew almost everything about my business but I was not completely correct. When I created a 12-page business plan, I realized that I learned so many things about I Innovate magazine that I didn’t know earlier.

Q48: What makes a startup successful?

Topic – Miscellaneous

There’s no answer for this. If you feel proud while saying to others that X is your startup then you can consider it successful.

Q49: What is the proper definition of a startup?

Topic – Miscellaneous

A startup is a temporary organization used to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. “Temporary” is emphasized because a startup’s goal is to cease being a startup, to graduate up to be a large business or to fail and move on to another opportunity. An early-stage venture that isn’t capable of this type of rapid scale-up is a small business, not a startup.

Q50: Which is more important – idea or execution?

Topic – Miscellaneous

An idea is just a multiplier but the execution is what matters. A good idea means a high multiplier. So, If execution is good then having a great idea means it’ll be multiplied by a high number and will result in more revenue.

Q51: What is a business plan and what are its objective?

Topic – Miscellaneous

A business plan is a written description of your business’s future. You write all the necessary things about your business like your idea, forecasted revenue, potential customers, etc. Having a business plan is not mandatory but having it gives you a very clear picture of your startup.

Q52: What should be a startup’s top priority in its early age?

Topic – Miscellaneous

There are only two priorities for a startup in its early age. One is customer acquisition and another is product development.

Q53: Should startup founders take weekend off?

Topic – Miscellaneous

I suggest you not to but if you’re feeling completely tired and need dire rest then you can. Hard work should not come at the cost of ultra-low productivity. If you’re really tired then your productivity decreases and you’ll do things in 1 hour what you can do in just 20-25 mins. Rather than taking weekends off, I also suggest you have 6-7 hours sleep every night so that you don’t feel tired.

Q54: What is the best advice to a startup which is partnering with a big company

Topic – Miscellaneous

Don’t make that big company as the major source of your revenue because if that company breaks the partnership then you’re screwed. As soon as you get the partnership with Big Company A, get partnerships with other big companies by saying you’ve already partnered with Big Company A. In this way, you will not rely on Big Company A as the major source of your revenue.

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Q55: Do we need face to face sales people for B2B sales or can it be done over the internet?

Topic – Miscellaneous

If the deal size is big for the lead company then you may require face to face sales. Deal size varies by a company to company. If you’re trying to make a deal with a company which generates $100 million per year then a deal size of $10K wouldn’t be much and you can make the deal over Skype. But, the same deal size of $10K would be a big one for a startup that is making $100 in a year. In that case, cofounders may want you to meet in person.

Q56: Who is growth hacker and what is growth hacking?

Topic – Miscellaneous

A CEO consider everything like opportunities, expenses, budget, shortfalls before doing anything new. A growth hacker doesn’t care anything. He only sees the growth of a startup. His job is to give all kind of ideas (doesn’t matter how weird and expensive) to grow a startup. The execution of those ideas is called growth hacking.

Q57: What do to if my competitor copies my strategy?

Topic – Miscellaneous

This thing is quite common in the business world and you can’t do anything. The only things you can do is to execute the strategy in a better way or think of a different strategy.

Q58: Why do they have a successful startup and I don’t? What extra did they do?

Topic – Miscellaneous

They talked to their customers and potential customers. Based on their feedback, they kept on doing changes in their product. If there aren’t any potential customer or count of potential customers are very less, they didn’t even think of launching their product.

Q59: How do a startup starts?

Topic – Miscellaneous

A funny yet important question. If you have an idea and you started building something on that idea, a startup is born. Incorporating that startup is a different thing.

Q60: What happens to a founder if a startup fails?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Nothing. Life goes on and he starts another startup.

Q61: My cofounder takes all the public credit. Should I be OK with it?

Topic – Miscellaneous

The cofounder who goes and talks to the customers, media, or press will take all the credits. It should be decided at the beginning of a startup that who would take this responsibility. If the startup fails, the same person will also take all the blame.

Q62: How do cofounders get paid?

Topic – Miscellaneous

In early days, they don’t. When startup starts to make some revenue, they get paid with a very small amount (even lesser than most of the employees). Only when a startup is booming, they get paid what they deserve.

Q63: Is it possible to start a business when you have a full-time job?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Yes, many startups are born in this way.

Q64: What is the perfect startup team?

Topic – Miscellaneous

All the cofounders should have different working style and thinking should not be matched, but vision and goal should always match. Make sure that you’re prepared for so many heated arguments in this type of team but you’ll always find a conclusion in this type of team.

Q65: What separates the top 10% of startup CEOs from the rest?

Topic – Miscellaneous

There’s a good book by Jim Collins. Its name is Good to Great. There are only 5 traits.

  1. They are very good at hiring. They hire good people, the people who don’t need to be managed because they’re very motivated. Just give them the task and they’ll do it. If you hire a person whom you need to manage 40 hours a week, that’s person is not a good hire.
  2. They don’t blame others if something goes wrong. If someone in their team makes a mistake, they don’t blame that person.
  3. They don’t take the credit for company’s success. They are quite a shy person and say that it’s the team that worked hard and should be appreciated for this success. If they don’t find a suitable team for the success then they just say that we got lucky.
  4. They make sure that they are the hardest working people in the room.
  5. They make sure that the company runs flawlessly even when they’re not around. They don’t put any kind of dependency on them. Implementing this part requires gut.

Q66: What’s the thing that I have learned after starting I Innovate magazine?

Topic – Miscellaneous

It’s frikkin hard but I must never give up.

Q67: I am an American, but can I start a company in China and India?

Topic – Miscellaneous

Yes, you can start a company in both countries. But, survival is very hard in China because the Chinese government puts lots of emphasis on its country born companies rather than foreigners. Google, Uber, & Facebook tried to survive the market but they couldn’t.

On the other hand, India is welcoming all kinds of startup. It doesn’t matter what’s your nationality.

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also and save in your computer or mobile, just in case you need to refer to it again.


This is all, folks.
If you want any question to be added, feel free to contact me at [email protected].


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67 Most Asked Questions by First Time Entrepreneurs
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