Starting a Business? 4 Ways to Help you Choose the Right Business Idea

Are you one of those people who feels called to be your own boss? Now more than ever there are so many low-cost options available to aspiring entrepreneurs. Maybe you’re certain that you want to start a business, but which one should you start?

Read on for a way to explore your options, so you can launch a business you love that will help keep you motivated for years to come.

A Journaling Exercise to Get Started:

Break out your notepad and work through the questions below:

  1. Why do you want to start a business? You might want to enjoy the freedom of working for yourself, you want to do something you love, or you believe you can make more money than you would as an employee. Knowing your why will help you stay motivated when challenges come up. What is your why?
  2. What are your strengths? What are you good at and what skills have you gained over your work life that could transfer to a business idea? And what do you love to do?  

Here’s how I lay out my page when mining for a new business idea

  •  Create 3 columns to list what you’re good at, your experience and skills, and what you love to do
  • Interview people you know to understand what you’re good at/your strengths and make notes, again asking what skills will translate to a business idea.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to discover what you want to do, by understanding what you don’t want to do, so add to your list those things you are certain you don’t want to do. As you think over this question, notice where your areas of strength and expertise contrast or align with what you don’t want to do. Look for patterns and similarities.
  • Now look over what you’ve written. What common themes do you see? What strengths, experiences, and things you love doing could translate into a business? Narrow down your options into 2 – 3 ideas before taking the next step.

Research Your Ideas

  1. Check Google Keywords and Google Trends to spot business ideas that are popular or present growth opportunities. This will tell you what people are searching for online in each area.
  2. Do research to understand the frustrations or pain points people are reporting in your areas of interest.
  3. Check out the potential competition to see what others are doing in these areas.
    • Google Search (using your trending or keywords)
    • Social Platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok)

If you can narrow down to one idea at this point, you can begin testing your idea on a small scale. This is all about testing and learning so you can refine your idea – the best way to discover what works is by doing!

Formulate Your Winning Idea:

Document your idea:

  1. One sentence – what’s the idea? What will you call it?
  2. What’s the pain point?
  3. Who else is doing this?
    1. Who is their target audience?
    2. What do they offer? What pain points or issue do they solve for?
    3. What features do they reference? What benefits?
    4. Where are they showing up? (social, brick and mortar versus online, traditional ads or digital ads)

Use your research to put your own spin on your idea idea (seek inspiration – but don’t try to be a copy of the competition. What can you bring to your venture that is unique?)

Test Your Idea

Give yourself 60 days to test and refine your business idea. You’re going to discover a lot during your test phase, including how much time you can (or want to) dedicate to your business and how much money you are willing to invest. Testing gives you an opportunity to further develop your idea. A few places to test are:

  1. Test on Facebook and Instagram to gain audience insights (you can do this for an incredibly small money investment).
  2. Create a one page website to collect leads and gauge interest in your idea: This can be as simple as a coming soon page with a spot people can sign up for your email list and announcements. Wordpress is a free and fairly easy to build platform - and you don’t need a domain name to start, if you’re not one hundred percent sure what you want to call your business. Be sure to include on your one-pager: Something about you and what you do; Who you serve and how you help; A teaser of what’s coming soon for your business
  3. Share your idea with family and friends for feedback
  4. Leverage the power of learning
    • Join networking groups or online forums where your peers hang out
      1. Find out what questions your peers have.
      2. What challenges do they encounter?
      3. What has been working for them?
    • Take a course or workshop in basic marketing/business building once you have a basic idea – this will help you understand how to promote your business, essentials of your business planning, etc.

Figuring out your business idea can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Start small with a few simple questions and experiments to design and refine your business idea. You will be well positioned to dive deeper from there.

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