© Copyright 2000 By Diana Pemberton-Sikes
As the owner of a business ideas website, I'm often asked, "What's the 'best' business to start?"
The answer: The one that best suits your needs. Obviously this will be different for everyone. But let me give you some questions to ask yourself before beginning ANY new venture. I'll use the "Who, What, Where, When, Why?" approach:
WHO Am I?
Knowing who you ARE is as important as knowing who you ARE NOT. If you're a mild-mannered librarian from Metropolis, for example, then you are not a Las Vegas showgirl.
Obviously, right? Yet as apparent as this seems, I still see people start businesses or jump on business opportunities that have nothing to do with who they are or what they know. Starting a new venture is challenging enough without complicating the issue by tackling a product or service you know nothing about. Give yourself a fighting chance: stick with the familiar.
WHAT Do I Want?
Determine what you want to get out of the effort. Do you want to:
Get out of the house and earn an extra few hundred dollars of "mad money" every month?
Replace your current income so you can tell your boss to take a hike?
Make more money than you've ever made in your life?
Each one is going to require a different level of time and commitment. For some, a pre-tested business opportunity template may fit the bill. For others, a start-from-scratch business may be the only way to go. Take your time to investigate; there's a lot available either way.
But be realistic. If you work full time, have kids to chauffer around, a house to run, and other duties besides, then you'll need something you can fit into your hectic schedule. If you're retired and looking for a way to fill your time and meet interesting people, you may want something completely different.
WHERE Am I Now?
A lot of people jump into businesses before they're really ready. It's easy to do, especially if you find something you really like and are trying to get a way from something you really hate, like a boss or a commute or co-workers. Still, it's important to think the matter through, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
You know, the old Research and Development thing.
If you're looking for some "madmoney" and the extra income is optional, then trying a few different business opportunities to see what suits you best may be the way to go. But if you're going to rely on the income (as in replacing your current job), you'll need to take a more serious approach to the matter. Take the time to find what suits you. Learn what you need to know. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP.
If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail. Know what you'll need BEFORE you get started, or you'll waste time, energy, and money in a desperate attempt to get the thing going.
WHEN Can I Get Started?
Now having told you to research and plan, don't use that as an excuse NOT to get started. Don't wait until the kids are grown or you retire or after your vacation or until next year. Start NOW. Read, digest, learn. Begin to narrow down the ideas that are best for you. Get to understand the "big picture" of what it takes to run a business. Start some market research. Do SOMETHING.
As Confucius said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." Take it. You'll reach your destination that much sooner.
WHY Look At The "Big Picture"?
Most people who start businesses don't come from a business background. They're good at some THING, so they start a business based on their talent or skill. Nothing wrong with that. But keep in mind that the product is only PART of the business equation. To have a SUCCESSFUL venture you need:
A target market with money
A product the target market wants
A way to tell them about it (marketing)
A way to get it to them (fulfillment)
A way to manage the process (administration)
A way to maintain the process (maintenance)
A plan for doing all the above
Put you ego aside and be honest with yourself. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. If you have zero marketing skills, learn to market or find someone who will do it for you. If bookkeeping gives you hives, find a competent accountant or bookkeeper. If you're not sure how to get started, read books or find a mentor. Try your local SCORE chapter.
Whatever you do, DON'T just ignore the parts of your business that aren't as interesting to you as the others. I've seen too many disasters by people who have done this. If you know you're not going to do something that needs to be done, own up to it from the start and find someone who can help. It may cost you some money-but it will probably be a lot less than leaving the thing undone.
HOW Do I Get Started?
Imagine the perfect business for you:
What would you be doing? Playing golf? Cooking? Unearthing dinosaurs?
Where would you work? At home? Out of a suitcase? On the stage?
When would you work? At night? When the kids go to school? October through March?
Why this line of business? Fulfill a childhood dream? A favorite hobby? It's all you know?
How much money would you make each month? $500? $5,000? $50,000?
Now that you've imagined the perfect business, go make it happen! The "perfect" opportunity is not going to find you -- you have to find it or create it for yourself if it doesn't exist. It's not impossible. In fact, once you get started, you'll discover how easy it can be and wonder why you didn't get started sooner.
So what is the "best" business to start?
Considering your interests, abilities, commitments, dreams, and income expectations, the "best" business is the one that best suits your needs.
"Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand."
Diana Pemberton-Sikes is the author of "10 Simple Ways To Boost Your Income", which features dozens of simple ways to start or expand a business using your EXISTING knowledge, skills, and interests. To learn more, visit her website at www.niftybusinessideas.com.
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