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Susan Solovic, The Small Business Expert is an award-winning entrepreneur, an attorney, a New York Times best-selling author, a media personality and a highly sought after keynote speaker.

How To Find Your Ideal Startup

How To Find Your Ideal Startup

An acquaintance used to teach seniors in high school. He would ask them what kinds of careers they wanted to pursue. About half the boys would say that they wanted to get into the video game industry. Certainly there is money to be made in video games. But even this huge industry isn’t big enough to support half the boys that graduate from high school each year.

We need to dig more deeply to come up with sound business ideas.

If you’re looking to start a new business, here are some practical guidelines to help you find your idea and polish it a bit. These are perhaps the best and most basic ways to launch a successful business. Start with:

  1. What you love,
  2. What you’re good at,
  3. A problem you see, or
  4. A dire need for money.

Frankly, successful businesses have started at each of these four “entry points,” but if your idea checks off two, three, or even four of these, your probability for success increases. Fortunately, numbers one and two often coincide with one another, so those are good places to start.

Services that inform

We’re in an information-providing and service-providing economy, so most new businesses have one or both of those attributes. Therefore, you need to discover how your skill or passion fits into those kinds of business models.

Here’s one approach that has worked for many entrepreneurs. Say you’re a successful blogger or handicraft seller on the Internet. When you get to the point where it’s difficult to grow, you can begin to teach others how to do what you have done. You could put together a course or hire out your services.

Or perhaps you’re passionate about extreme sports. You could put together tours to places around the world where like-minded extreme sports enthusiasts can enjoy their craziness together. On a smaller scale you can start a website and newsletter on extreme sports and then accept advertising and develop affiliate relationships with interested companies.

What are you an expert at?

In his book “The $100 Startup,” Chris Guillebeau relates the story about an executive who became an expert in awards travel. He got so good his colleagues started to ask him for help. This eventually morphed into a business where he is able to charge big fees for putting together great itineraries on award travel credits.

This man learned to solve a problem for himself and found that others were willing to pay him to solve their similar problems. Don’t think that you have to create a product to solve a problem; you can create a service that solves problems for people. Is there any pet peeve or inconvenience in your life for which you have discovered a “fix”?

The fourth item on my list can be the most important. If you truly need some money, you will be motivated. This almost guarantees that you’ll put in sufficient effort to give your business its best chance at success.

The idea that necessity is the mother of invention originates with Plato. Need is a motivator and source of inspiration. If you have a great need, you will probably fully consider the other three points on my list as well as my advice here and come up with a winning formula for your business.

Be the boss of your level

Heck, if your need is great enough and you have one or two other elements on that list, you might even be able to carve out a business for yourself in the video gaming industry…

PS – If you would like to see a huge list of specific business ideas that are nicely categorized, check out this page on Entrepreneur’s website. Find what interests you, then drill down to a list of possible startups with estimated costs.


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