Want to start a business but short of an idea?
The business idea is the start of every successful company. One of the toughest parts of starting a business is the idea stage. It’s not that people can’t come up with a business idea. The problem is that the idea might not be the right idea for them. If you don’t know what business to pursue, this article is for you.
Some of the best business ideas stem from:
Current occupation – What do you do now? Could you start a business that is the same or similar to your current job? It is one of the easiest ways to transition from employee to entrepreneur.
Hobby – Do you have a hobby you could turn into a business? If you are a good tennis player or golfer, you could start a teaching business. If you play an instrument, you could teach or create training materials or start a membership site where you teach paying members. If you are good at organizing things, you could start a business helping people or businesses to get more organized. You get the idea.
Here are some examples of turning hobbies into a business:
- Travel – You could organize your own tours or review travel products. Teach people how to save money or find the best travel deals. You could also start a travel blog. Check out my how to start a blog post to learn more.
- Collecting – Sell collectibles to hobbyists or teach others how to make the right buying decisions.
- Crafting – Sell your own crafts or teach others your skills.
- Photography – You could become a professional photographer or teach photography to others.
- Pets – If love to be around pets, you could start a variety of business from pet sitting to training.
- Cooking – Many people are willing to pay someone to either cook for them or teach them how to prepare a delicious dish.
- Money management – Let’s face it, budgeting and money management is a challenge for many. If you are a penny-pinching pro, you could teach others how to do the same.
- Music – Do you play the guitar or the piano? You could build a solid business teaching music. Teaching music is a great business because it is recurring revenue. It also requires very little money to start. You already have the instrument. You can give music lessons in your home or travel to your students.
Improve – The reality is that there are hardly any new business ideas out there. But, there are new and improved ways to do things or make things. You don’t have to come up with a revolutionary idea. All you need to do is to improve an existing product or service enough to get people to pay you for it.
Consider the following before your transition from a job to entrepreneurship:
- If there is a way, try starting your business part-time. If you can start a business on the side, you reduce your risks a lot. You could take on your first clients and work with them in the evenings or on weekends. If you must work with your customers during business hours, try to reduce your hours at work.
- Before you quit your job build your network. Once you start your own business, you have to get paying customers fast. The more extensive your network, the easier it will be to sign your first customers.
- Be realistic about your income. You know how much money you need to pay your bills. You have to have enough money to bridge you from employee to entrepreneur. You will realize that everything takes longer and costs more than you thought in the beginning. You have to have enough capital to make the transition.
- Learn new skills. If you are a designer and you want to start your own web design business, you have to have a strategy to get customers. If you haven’t been dealing with selling in your job, you have to learn how to sell websites.
- Is your spouse on board? Starting a business is hard even with the full support of your loved ones. You will fail if your spouse is not on board.
Also, think of the types of businesses to start.
Here are some of the most common types of businesses:
- Brick and mortar – If you love to be around other people, you will enjoy this type of business. You could start a retail store where you have daily face-to-face interaction with customers. I know people who feel best when they are close to other people. A brick and mortar business is ideal for them.
- Pros – There will always be a market for people who want to shop in brick and mortar stores. Many people want the pleasure of buying and getting a product immediately.
- Cons – Brick and mortar businesses require a lot of startup capital. You have to sign a long term lease, then pay for improvements. You also have to spend a lot of money on inventory, etc. Brick and mortar startup costs are high.
- Home business – If you are starting a service business, a home office might be a great way to start. A home business is also a great way to start a business part-time. You might still have a day job while you start your home-based company.
- Pros – Home businesses cost a lot less to start than brick and mortar businesses. You don’t have to worry about signing expensive leases. You already have your office. A home business is also less risky. If you want a business that gives you more time to spend with your family, a home business is your best bet.
- Cons – For many home-based entrepreneurs the work never ends. Whenever you are home, you could find yourself working. You can quickly burn yourself out if you can’t separate your business from your private life. If you are someone who loves face to face interaction, a home business might not be the best fit for you.
- Online business – There are countless ways to make money online from e-commerce to freelancing to becoming a professional blogger. Starting an online business requires a lot of learning. Unless you have a background in doing business online, you will spend the first couple of years learning the ins and outs of making money online. Ignore the hype about how easy it is to make money online. Making money online is not easy, but it can be done if you are willing to learn and invest time and money.
- Pros – You don’t have to have a brick and mortar location, although many online businesses also have a physical location too. The world is your market. As an online business, you are not limited by geography. You can sell to anyone who has an internet connection. Online businesses are easier to scale than brick and mortar businesses.
- Cons – You are competing with the world as an online business. Your customers are everywhere, and so are your competitors. You have to be at the top of your game if you are going to succeed online. You have to constantly learn and adjust to changes. If you are uncomfortable with an ever-changing business environment, online might not be the best option for you.
- Location independent business – More and more people with an independent spirit want to start a location independent business. This model works great for freelancers, coaches, designers, writers, accountants, and programmers.
- Pros – A location independent business is more than a business. It is a lifestyle. It is not for everyone, but if you love to travel, there is no better way than to start a location independent business. There is very little expense with starting a location independent business.
- Cons – Many customers prefer a face to face meeting before hiring you. With those customers, you will be at a disadvantage. You have to have a lot of discipline if you will succeed as a location independent entrepreneur. You might choose to live in a Thailand beach city. Will you have the discipline to work instead of hanging out at the beach? The most successful location independent entrepreneurs are masters time management.
Ask yourself the following question to help you generate the right business idea:
- Do you want to start a product or service business?
- Do you want a business with employees?
- Do you like customer service?
- Do you enjoy face to face interaction with customers?
- What skills do you have that could be turned into a business?
- What are your most marketable skills?
- Do you want to work from home or you prefer to work in an office?
- Do you enjoy selling?
- Would you be able to keep your job while starting a business?
- How much money do you have to invest in your business?
- How much money would it cost to create your product?
- How much time would it require to design, test, and manufacture your product?
- How much savings do you have? If your business can’t make a profit for the first 6-months or one year, will you be able to pay your bills?
- Who are you going to compete with?
- What can you do better than your competition?
- What makes your business, product or service better than the competition?
- How long would it take to get your first ten customers?
- How much money would it cost to get your first ten customers?
How to plan your business?
Once you have a business idea, it is time to take the necessary steps to plan your business.
Step #1 – Research
If you want to succeed in business, you have to do your research. Learn about the industry. Study your competition. Find ways to improve what is already offered on the marketplace.
Step #2 – Evaluate
It is not enough to have a business idea. You have to evaluate it. Don’t evaluate your business idea emotionally. Even if you love the business idea, you must look at it objectively. Ask others, preferably with business experience, to evaluate your business idea. Be prepared to teak your business idea.
Step #3 – Implement
Once you have done your research and evaluated your business plan, it is time to take action. It is important to have a list of actionable items with deadlines.
Step #4 – Get help
A business takes many skills. You don’t know everything. Therefore, you have to build a team around you. At the very least, you should consult an attorney, an accountant, and a marketing professional. The attorney will help you with the proper business entity for your business. Your attorney can also help with contracts. Consult a tax professional. Talk with a marketing professional about client acquisition.
Step #5 – Set goals
Successful entrepreneurs set goals and follow through. Your goals should be measurable. Instead of “growing the business” your goal should state: “I am going to get ten new clients in the next 30-days. Ten clients in 30-days are measurable. If you want to reach your goals, you must make them measurable.
Step #6 – Start your business
Once you have done your planning, it is time to start the business. It is an exciting time. You are entering the unknown. You will make mistakes. Use your mistakes as opportunities to learn.
Step #7 – Stick with it
Many businesses fail because it is easier to quit than to push through the difficulties of building a business. Succeeding in business without the challenges is impossible. Being an entrepreneur is about overcoming challenges. Talk with entrepreneurs about business challenges. It will help you get through them.
Step #8 – Adjust
Many times, in business, you will have to make adjustments. Pivot is the popular word for this in business today. Every day you will learn more about your business, your industry, and your customers. Based on what you learn you will be able to make the right adjustments.
Step #9 – Be patient
It takes years to build a successful business. Give yourself time. Understand that everything you try or do might take longer than expected.
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