What should I do; what business should I start? This is a question I have heard a lot over the years and unfortunately, it’s not a question that I can answer for you, you are the only one who can answer that question for yourself, but I can help you think through the process to help you come up with an idea that works well with your skill sets and you talents and your passions.
There are two things you need to consider when you are thinking about what business you should start. The first thing is what do I love doing? You have to love doing it because starting a business is really hard, it takes a lot of work, a lot of effort over an extended period of time and if you don’t love what you do then you are going to get sick of doing it and you are going to quit.
There is a video that I like to show at my workshop by Steve Jobs, he is talking about the importance of doing something that you love because if you don’t, when the times get tough and they will, then you are more likely to give up if you are not really passionate about what it is that you are doing. I will post a link to that video on the blogpost for this video on my website.
The second thing that you need to do is something that you already know. Starting a business is really hard. There are a lot of things that go into it, a lot of moving parts, it’s easy to get confused. If you don’t know what you are doing then that’s just one other thing that you have to add to the list of things that you have to master in order for your business to be successful. Do yourself a favor and choose something that you already know better than the average person for the business that you are going to start.
Malcolm Gladwell, he is a very famous author. He writes lots of books about human behavior and psychology and that kind of thing and he is most famous for saying that “It takes 10,000 hours or 10 years of hard work to become a world class expert at anything.” Luckily, you don’t need to be a world class expert to start your own business, but you should know more than the average person about whatever it is that you are doing. If you are a brand new beginner before you start your business whatever it is you decide to do, it’s just too much of a learning curve. You are going to have to learn everything there is to know about that industry and that business before you can even start. So, do yourself a favor, chose something that you already know and chose something that you love doing.
I have an entrepreneurial self-assessment that you can download from the blogpost on my website that has this video on it. That will help you walk through the process of identifying the things that you both love and know how to do.
So, go download that self-assessment and fill it out and that will get you started on the process of figuring out what business you should start. I do this exercise in the Web Startup 101 workshop that I teach. In the last workshop, a guy, he came into the workshop with an idea in mind, he had written a long business plan for it, he had spent a lot of time working on it and after we got done with this exercise of writing out the things that he loves to do and the things that he knows how to do really well, he found something that was on both lists that he actually loved doing a lot more than the business idea he came in with. It was completely unrelated. He knew a lot about the business that he wanted to start, but he wasn’t really passionate about it. He didn’t really care about it that much. For him, it was just more about a way of making a living than it was about starting something that makes a difference and something that’s meaningful to him.
So, do this exercise even if you have an idea in mind already and you may be surprised at what you come up with. You may find something that’s on both lists that you never thought about starting your own business around before. The business that you start doesn’t have to be an online business. I am a big fan of online business obviously based on my book that I wrote, but it doesn’t have to be an online business.
The reason why I like the online business concept is because it’s a very low barrier to entry. You can create a website for a few hundred bucks, may be a couple of thousand dollars at the most if you pay someone else to do it for you. You could be up and running in your spare time, you don’t have to quit your day job. If you choose to start a business that’s offline, there is a lot more involved. You will have to find a retail location perhaps, maybe use funding to get the retail location set up. There are a whole lot of things that go into that. I am not saying that you shouldn’t do an offline business. All I am saying is that I prefer the online business mainly because it’s just easier to get going to get off the ground.
All right, so once you have your idea in mind, it’s time to start the process of getting involved, to bury yourself in that idea. That means you need to sign up for classes, go to seminars, and Meetup groups that are related to this industry or this idea. Go to the bookstore and read every book that you can find that is related to your idea. Go to tradeshows even if you have to travel, suck it up, pay for the airline and the hotel and go travel to these locations where these events are.
My advice when you do have your idea in mind, don’t quit your day job. Start small, get some momentum going, get your website built, do all of these things with as little change to your overall lifestyle as possible. You don’t want to add the additional pressure of having to pay the bills on top of starting your new business.
A lot of people, they’re gung-ho on their idea, they quit their job and they work on it fulltime, but then the pressures of paying the mortgage and making the car payment and paying your internet bill and everything else starts filtering in and it starts making you question your decision and applies a lot more pressure and then also it effects the decisions you make in your business. You start making decisions on your business based more on what the short term effects are to your personal finances than what the best long-term decision is for your business.
So, don’t quit your day job, keep working, keep earning a living so that you can afford to pay the rent, the mortgage or whatever it is, start this on the side, work on the weekends and in the evenings. Try and save up as much money as you can so that when it does come time to quit your day job and go to your business fulltime, you have enough money in the bank to support yourself for several months because it will take several months before you are generating enough revenue in most cases to pay for all of your personal expenses.
All right, so now you have something that you know how to do, something you love doing and then you have learned everything there is to know about it and you started your business, now is the fun time. Now is the time where your business starts to grow and take shape and that is well beyond the scope of this video. This video is about “What business should I start?”
I have a lot more information on my website at JPStonestreet.com/WhatToDo. I will give you some ideas about what businesses you can start based on different skill sets that you might have. So, go check that out now and once again, thanks for joining me and hopefully I have helped you on your path to determining what business you should start.