How do I know what business to start?
This is Part 5 of a 5 part installment on starting a business.
“I want to start a business, but I don’t know what business to start.”
Having a perfect, unique, inspiring idea to pour everything into is an elusive thing for the aspiring entrepreneur. Your chance at success is exponentially higher when you do something you have a natural interest in — and the stronger the interest, the better. (How lame am I that my thing was accounting?)
Having that great idea to sell something that you are interested in, passionate about, and think will be a profitable business idea is the promised land for would be entrepreneurs. But what if you don’t have that idea? And if you don’t, how do you find it? What if you just want to start a business anyways?
How do you know what business to start?
I’ve constructed a few scenarios here to walk through the many positions a would-be entrepreneur could be in when deciding what business to start.
Scenario 1: “I have a great, unique idea in an area that I’ve been interested in for as long as I can remember.”
You’re lucky — go for it!
You have that elusive match of interest and feasible business idea. Try it. Even if you fail, you’ll enjoy the journey. However, your risk of failure is considerably lower if you truly have this match. When the passion for what you’re doing is there, a way to success is usually forged. However, it will likely still require a significant amount of effort. One’s ability to put forth that effort and not quit is strongest when there is passion for the idea beyond wealth and fear of failure. If this is you, get started on your business now.
Scenario 2: “I’m convinced that owning a business is what I need to do. As soon as that great idea hits me, I will start it and drop everything to make it succeed.”
This is a tough spot. I was there for several years. My advice is to just start. Did I mention I like action? Do something! It will likely not be your “it” business, but will take you toward your “it” business. My path in entrepreneurship went like this: telecommunications > real estate > CPA firm > refrigeration > healthcare > cloud reporting and bookkeeping (final destination, my “it”). I kept doing things (some on the side and others full-time) to chase my “it” business. It was neither efficient nor economical, and it was far from easy. But it led me to where I am, and I could not be happier. I’m not sure my mind would have developed the “it” idea without this rambling journey. So my advice (granted, it’s a little biased) is to act. It’s possible that this journey will ultimately become the guide to your “it” business.
Scenario 3: “I think I want to start a business, but I don’t want to do it for the business itself. I want that perfect idea before I start.”
You’re in a good spot. My only advice is to search for that idea. Don’t just talk about it. Research, learn, and discover what it is. Simply be sure that if you truly want the perfect business to start, you will still need to make it happen. It rarely falls out of the sky.
So, you still want to start a business…
Starting a business can be very attractive. Be aware of the fact that there are a multitude of reasons not to do it. I can tell you that it’s very challenging and fulfilling — I started a business that I am passionate about, and I could not be happier. If your desire to start a business is an internal itch, then there is little that should stop you. The reasons not to start a business should now apply only to how you go about starting your business.