Sure, you have the passion and skills to be an entrepreneur, but is 2016 your year for starting a business? If you can genuinely see yourself taking care of the 10-14 daily tasks that come with being a business owner, then it’s time to pursue this business further. The first thing you need to do is validate your business idea.
Do you have a valid business idea or an expensive hobby?
Ask Yourself: What Do I Want Out of Life?
Yes, new business ideas relate to the big “life” questions we ask ourselves. Is your goal in starting a business to maximize profit, or to dedicate yourself to a passion? If both those things go together, then congratulations and get started. If maximizing capital is your goal, then you may want to consider something less risky, like a reputable franchise. If it’s about doing something you’re passionate about, you may need a stable source of income at least for the first couple of years. Giving up your “day job” because your business is profitable is one of the best feelings there is, but many successful business owners retain income-producing jobs until their business finds its footing.
What Would You Do for Free if You Could?
What gets you in “the zone” where you’re so into what you’re doing you look up and three hours have somehow gone by? You can’t pursue your passion for free and make it into a business, but often you can find ways to monetize your passion, particularly if you have a unique skill, or are great at a service that many people are happy to pay for. Maybe you can’t turn a profit designing wedding dresses right away, but you can build a loyal and potentially valuable client list by offering clothing alteration services or creating theater or pageant costumes for busy stage parents.
Are You a Behind-the-Scenes Person or Do You Want to Be Center Stage?
There are plenty of new business ideas regardless of which you are. The introvert who is happy to work alone may do freelance writing, or bake specialty cakes. To the extrovert who is energized when surrounded by people, starting a business may mean the time is finally right to open that hair salon. If you’re interested in starting a business that involves constant interaction (a café or boutique for example), make sure you’re comfortable doing so. By the same token, if you need people around, doing engineering consulting from your home office, or starting an actuarial service may prove to be unbearably lonely.
What Do You Want to Avoid Doing?
Perhaps you have a young family and want to avoid traveling frequently for the time being. This can inform your direction when starting a business. Maybe you can’t stand clerical tasks. That doesn’t mean you can’t start your own business, just that you will need to hire someone with the expertise to deal with it for you. With most new business ideas, you’ll encounter tasks you simply don’t like doing. You have to be honest about whether you’re willing to do them anyway (for now, at least), or if hiring someone to take care of them will be essential to making it work.
Is There a Market for Your Idea?
It’s tempting to skip market research, either because you don’t want any negative feedback, you’re convinced a market exists, or you’re afraid market research is too expensive. But you should consider it an investment in your future. Market research should include industry information, including whether the industry is expanding. A market survey involves studying the spending characteristics of the population to which your business will sell and how much sales volume is reasonable to expect. Market research also gives you an idea of your competition, which is the first step to learning their strengths and weaknesses and where your opportunities are strongest.
People Have Made Unusual Business Ideas Work
Don’t worry too much if you think your idea is odd. People have made successful businesses out of everything from selling socks in threes instead of pairs to writing personalized romance novels. If your passion, commitment level and market research indicate that there is a market for your product or service, perhaps 2016 is your year to shine. Feel free to share your experiences and ideas in the comments section, and of course, I’m always here as a resource to help you succeed as your own boss.