By Dee Adams
"What business do I start?" is a question asked by potential entrepreneurs who often have a hard time deciding on the right venture.
Map out a plan to search for suitable self-employment
This is a crucial step that beginners routinely overlook. Aspiring entrepreneurs typically fail to investigate how they fit into the marketplace. What industries, or subjects, make you come alive? What are your pet peeves in those areas? Your answers could point you toward a problem-solving startup.
The idea for a venture can come from numerous sources, but many ideas are inspired by previous employment, according to a study by Harvard Business School.
Enterprising workers, using job skills and industry knowledge, pursue commercial endeavors. Consider these examples:
- An ad executive surveyed women about their image issues and exercise habits. Then she analyzed the responses and produced a booklet on how to get in shape in record time. Thin Thighs in 30 Days eventually sold more than 2.5 million copies. She used the earnings to open an independent agency.
- A police station custodian converted the gritty experiences that he witnessed on the job into a series of "gangsta" genre novels.
Identify Aptitudes versus Overconfidence
Would-be entrepreneurs typically overestimate their business and marketing abilities.
Identify your strengths versus your soft skills, and develop solutions to overcome those limitations.
Examine Your Values and Attitudes
- Money should not be the primary reason for selecting a venture.
- Success as an entrepreneur is not achieved through hard work but from performing tasks that you can totally immerse yourself in and enjoy.
Business experts in the academic field and professionals like motivational guru Tony Robbins believe these concepts are key. However, the general public has a hard time accepting the principles. Case in point: Investor's Business Daily's profile of Alexander Calder: He loved art and came from a family of artists, but he believed it was impractical to follow his passion, so Calder pursued a degree in mechanical engineering and drifted from job to job. Several years later, Calder decided to pursue art and eventually became a pioneer in the field with his innovative wire sculptures.
How much do you have? How much will you need?
The amount of time necessary to run a startup, even part-time, is usually greatly underestimated.
Juggling a sideline venture along with a 9 to 5 employment requires skillful time management. The first step is to know where the time goes for your current responsibilities. A lot of people don't have a clue.
Keep a daily diary of your work and leisure activities for each hour of the day for seven days. Or if possible, run videotape and produce a chart that will record and document the information.
When choosing ventures, make a checklist of the tasks and activities that you'll perform on a regular basis, and the time involved in completing them.
Having an accurate idea of the actual commitment involved before startup will help you to focus on suitable possibilities and avoid unpleasant surprises.
Famous Amos Cookies, Kenneth Cole, Tory Burch, and the Khan Academy are some of the startups that launched on a tabletop, in a closet, or by using other bootstrap methods.
Author Dennis Kimbro notes that Wally Amos once traded $750 in chocolate chip cookies for radio advertising.
A lack of money often determines the startup selected, but most small businesses can be started for a fraction of the usual cost if the idea is scaled back. For example, the Carl's Jr., franchise has more than 3,000 locations, but the company began with a food cart, reports Food Network TVs Unwrapped. And one of the world's largest pet book publishers began by selling booklets, according to ParaPublishing.
Aspiring entrepreneurs with scant resources devise cost-cutting solutions that are innovative, and sometimes wacky, to achieve their goals. Others use changes in technology to lower expenses. For instance, some children's book authors are using PowerPoint multimedia to produce their books instead of relying on expensive 4-color printing, says self-publishing guru Dan Poynter.
Common and unconventional bootstrap methods include:
- Raiding junkyards
- Dumpster diving
- Adaption of items, processes, or strategies commonly used in other ways, in other industries
What ideas can you brainstorm?
Dee Adams is the author of Finding Your Niche: Discover a Profitable Idea for a Business at Home—or Elsewhere, and a new online class. For free excerpts, visit her blog at http://www.nichecreativity.com.