You know you want to be your own boss. So you ask yourself, “What kind of business should I start?” You might try to answer that question by matching your interests and personality type to a
particular business. Unfortunately, you’re taking the wrong approach.
Yes, it’s important that you like what you do and are well suited to it. It’s more important to identify a good opportunity if you want your business to be successful. Before you ask “What kind of business should I start?” ask yourself the following questions first:
Many business owners get their start by working in an industry then spotting an opportunity from within. If you have experience in a field and wanted to start a similar or related business, you would have an advantage over someone starting from scratch.
Being a long time customer of a business or type of business can also help you identify opportunities. You might find a way to provide a better product or faster service.
If you have an idea for a business, but lack experience in the field, you might want work for someone else for a little while. It’s not the quickest path to ownership, but you can gain valuable insights into things like pricing, typical customers, and suppliers.
Finding a business suited to your strengths and skills would be ideal. Take a personal inventory of your skills and strong points. Eliminate potential businesses where you could spend too much time doing something you’re not good at or don’t want to learn.
Knowing what you’re not good at is just as important as pinpointing your strengths. Your strengths should serve you well, but they may not be enough to make your business successful.
You may have to develop some new skills. Or you might need to hire someone to help you. Complete an honest self-assessment to identify areas that may need improvement or require outside help.
Understanding the needs and desires of the market shapes the direction of your business. You may already know from your work experience or experiences as a customer. If you’re not sure, conduct your own research by asking people you know or talking with business owners.
Listen to your target audience online. Sites like Twitter and Yahoo! Answers are filled with people telling you what they like and don’t like. People share good and bad experiences with businesses on sites like Yelp. If you pay attention, you’ll know exactly how to market to and build relationships with your future customers.
Customers know what they need most of the time. They usually aren’t shy about telling you if you ask.
There may be people or business owners you already know who’ve been clamoring for a better product, better service, or lower prices. You might know someone who could really benefit from what you have to offer.
Identify potential customers by name. Get them lined up ready to buy from you on day one.
To be successful, you’ll have to address a particular need. Your product or service must offer more value that your competition. Or you can do something your competitors are doing poorly or ignoring.
Your customers and potential customers know what they need. Your offering has to be based on them and their needs rather than your opinions or what you think they need.
One of the main goals of any business is to provide solutions. You need to figure out whether your product or service truly meets the needs of people most likely to buy from you.
“What type of business should I start?” is not a question you can answer without answering a few better questions first. There are enough good small business ideas out there. One or more may be right for you based on your skills, likes and personality.
Whether the business you’re best suited for constitutes a good opportunity is another matter. Think long and hard about what your customers need, how you’re going to deliver it, and who your customers are. Then you’ll know what kind of business to start.