Finding the Right Business is More Important Than Timing
What’s the Big Idea?
Some people start a business because an idea takes hold of them and won’t let them go until they act on it. Others know they want to be the boss, to be self-employed, but haven’t the first clue what they want to do. If that’s you, here’s an exercise to get your creative juices flowing and generate business ideas.
First, though, let’s dispel a couple of myths. Firstly, that you have to have a big idea, something unique, to make a business work. Yes, you need a unique selling proposition (USP) to market your business to your target market, but that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to find an unserved gap in the market, look at its potential to offer something different and fill that gap.
For example – something simple like becoming a dog walker? How about specialising in small or big dogs, or offering individual walks at a higher price than group walkers?
Second, that a recession is a bad time to start a business. There is no such thing as a bad time to start a business, only the wrong business to start. If you do your homework before you turn your ideas into reality, you should weed out those with a high likelihood of failure. Create a business plan and implement it, and your business stands a good chance of survival.
Finding the small idea
So, now we’ve got that out of the way, how do you go about finding the right business for you? Start with what you are good at, what you like, what pushes your buttons? What would make your life easier?
Grab a sheet of paper and write these lists down. So it might look like this:
Things I’m good at:
• Problem solving
• Calming people down
• Expressing emotions
• Reading between the lines
Things I like:
• Reading novels
• Spending time with family
• Computer games
Things that push my buttons:
• Poor spelling and grammar in published books
• Having to collect dry cleaning
• Traffic jams
Things that would make life easier:
• A personal chef
• A capsule wardrobe
• A dry cleaner that delivers
Of course, your list will be individual to you, but you should start to see themes and ideas emerging. In the above list, for example, a dry cleaning collection and delivery service is one option, a fiction editing service another, leaflet distribution is another – there is nothing easier than posting direct mail advertising through letterboxes. Some ideas might appeal more than others, and that’s OK. You’re only looking for ideas at this point.
Ask your friends and family, co-workers and neighbours the same questions, and see if they have problems you could solve. Look at other businesses, particularly what they fail to do to keep customers happy, and see if you can fill that gap.
If at any point you think you have an idea but you would be better served working for a larger company, in partnership or even as a franchisee, don’t tie yourself to being self-employed for the status.
Now you have a list of business ideas, it’s time to start weeding out the ones that don’t appeal to you. If you have a passion for something, but not the knowledge, keep it on the list, it’s easier to acquire skills and knowledge in a new area than try and drum up enthusiasm for something that bores you to tears.
Pick the idea that most appeals, and run it through a feasibility study. Do some market research. If it looks promising, move to the business plan stage. If not, return to your list of ideas until you find something that could work.
But on the other hand you strike it lucky with an idea such as a re-invention of the wheel, this could be just what someone needed.
Who would have ever thought that a square wheel would be a good idea?