More and more people are becoming self-employed every day. When you consider the lack of opportunities and the rise of competition to find employment, it’s probably not a surprise. If you’ve found yourself with a desire to make the move towards working for yourself, but without a great idea, take heart. In this guide, you’ll be guided through the essential steps towards finding your perfect business idea. Ready to change your life? Let’s get started…
Step One: Know What You Actually Want
The best way to approach coming up with the “perfect” idea involves a bit of soul searching. You have to start with your desires and intentions. Just like going on a trip, if you don’t know where you want to end up, you won’t know what path to take. Ask yourself questions that will help reveal your true motivation for wanting to become self-employed. Some examples include:
- Why do you want to work for yourself?
- What do you hope to get out of it?
- What is it about working for yourself that you feel is better than what you are currently doing?
JUST BECAUSE AN IDEA IS GOOD, IT DOESN’T MEAN IT WILL BE GOOD FOR YOU…
When you take the time to ask yourself the deeper questions you will start to see a pattern emerge from your responses. It may be a picture of your ideal scene or it may be a crystal clear vision of what you don’t want. Either approach is fine because it gives you a starting point or a grid to work from.
For example, if a person’s answers to the questions listed above were…
- To have more freedom to do the work I want.
- More money and more time with my family
- I won’t be a slave to the corporate world and I can make decisions for myself instead of being told what to do
From these answers it’s easy to extrapolate that autonomy is clearly going to be an important element of this person’s work life. Therefore, a business that doesn’t allow them to make decisions for themselves or that is based around the feedback of others may not give this person the satisfaction they desire. This might mean freelancing or anything with client work would not be an ideal fit for that particular person.
Knowing what won’t work for this person, will allow them to dig deeper to find an idea or concept that will give them true fulfillment and increase the likelihood of continued success. Let’s face it, working for yourself is challenging and you need a business idea that’s going to inspire you to work through the more difficult times. Choosing an idea that works with your actual motives and desires will help make those challenging times a lit bit less, well, challenging.
Step Two: Work With Your Available Resources
Business ideas are thought of all the time. How many times have you been with friends or family and someone has claimed, “someone should do this”? The problem isn’t coming up with an idea, it’s coming up with an idea that works for you. Just because an idea is good, it doesn’t mean it will be good for you.
To understand what ideas might work best, you should take stock of all your available resources. For instance, you might be able to write amazing product copy, but you might not be able to design the actual product. However, you might have access to capital, so you could hire a designer. This means your resources would include copywriting and design.
This is a very simplistic example, but it should get you thinking in the right direction about your strengths and weaknesses. Take a few minutes and consider all the available resources you have. For example, do you have access to…
- Specialized business related talents or skills (coding, marketing, writing, etc.)
- Work force (family, friends, previous co-workers, etc.)
- Work swapping (trading skills with someone else)
- Specialized skills or interests in hobbies (fashion, computers, beauty, fitness, etc.)
- Previous work experience
- Connections or networking opportunities
Once you have a basic list, you can use it as a guide to help determine whether an idea is a suitable fit for the resources you currently have available to you.
For example, let’s say you can code a website and are a pretty decent writer. You also have a passion for natural fitness. You could create a website that promotes and sells a workout program that matches your passion. Your writing skills could be put to work through a blog that will help attract new customers.
If your list includes things like great communication skills and connections and you love to meet new people, you might consider a network marketing opportunity.
The idea here is to help you narrow down your choices into one that will help you create a more rewarding life for yourself.
Step Three: Do Some Research
At this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of what type of self-employed lifestyle you want to live. In fact, you probably already have a few business ideas stewing in the back of your mind. Now, it’s time to dig in and do some research. Choosing a business concept is a lot like choosing a career path; you need to make sure it’s not only what you want to do, but that it’s also a viable option.
Luckily, with the Internet you can have instant access to a multitude of different businesses. This provides you with an opportunity to really see how well your ideas could be executed. Even if you have the most original idea in the world, someone, somewhere is at least doing something similar.
Taking time to research what other people have already done will help you discover new niches or opportunities that other people may have overlooked. You may see a way to do something new in an already crowded industry. For example, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu have all found success in the seemingly dominated media entertainment industry. Pinterest has found success in an overly crowded social media industry.
These types of business ideas come about through research and taking the time to truly understand the market your idea might involve. Even if you find that your ideas are already being done, dig a little deeper and see if there is a way you could do it differently.
Step Four: Do Something That Is Good for Everyone Involved
By now, you probably have at least one to two really great ideas. Often there are multiple choices on the table for starting a business. Even if you have an idea you think will work, there can be a variety of ways to go about implementing it. To make sure you’re picking the “best” idea, there is one sure way to choose between them. You always want to pick the idea that will benefit the largest number of groups.
Today’s market is much different than it was even just a few years ago. Transparency is now an expected business trait. If your main goal is just to make money for yourself or company, eventually, consumers will realize this and no longer support your business.
Green or eco-friendly businesses are experiencing loyal customers right now because of this very principle. Everyone needs to clean their home, but when you choose a product that also keeps the environment healthy and clean as well, everyone wins. People want to support this because it benefits more than just one group of people.
Another example is TOMS Shoes. It’s successful because it’s more than just your average shoe store. For every shoe you buy, they give away a new pair to a child in need. When you start to think about things outside your own circle, it helps give you a broader perspective of the impact your business idea could make.
You don’t need to follow the social entrepreneurship model shown in the above ideas, however, when given a choice, always go with the idea that will benefit more groups than just yourself.
Step Five: Do Something About It
The honest truth about business is anyone can come up with a killer industry revolutionizing idea. When it comes to executing the idea, however, you’ll find more daydreamers than actual doers. You could literally sit there and invent reasons all day long as to why you haven’t started or done anything about your idea. At the end of the day, the only real reason is you decided something else was more important and held a higher priority for you.
If you truly want to be self-employed, not only do you need a great idea, but you need to actually do it too.
By: Jennifer Good
Jennifer Good writes on many topics related to content marketing, social media, leadership & productivity for leading publications. You can also find her at JenniferGood.com.