How Business Ideas Work

Identifying your talents

For some, coming up with the business idea is the easy part. They simply turn a hobby, or something else that they love doing, into a business. In some cases, this works great. In other cases, it doesn't work so great. Why the difference? Because you can't just try on the pants when you want to buy the whole suit. In other words, there are a lot of different things to consider when you're trying to come up with an idea for a business that will fit you.

Those people that have made a go of it by converting their hobby into a business were lucky in that there was a market for their business in the first place. It doesn't matter how skilled you are and how much you love building those miniature replicas of Star Wars™ Millennium Falcons inside authentic 1940's 6-ounce Coca-Cola™ bottles, if there aren't people who want to buy them (i.e. a market) then you're not going to be able to support yourself doing it. It will still be a "hobby."

It still makes sense, however, to start a business that is based on things you know and are good at. You just can't stop there. It is also possible to start a business based on something you know nothing about. In this case, however, you probably should try and learn as much as you can before you get in too deeply. Or, consider buying a franchise that offers training, or an existing business from someone you can pump for information. You can also try working in the industry for a few months to pick up information. You may be surprised at how much you can learn even in low level positions.

Where are your strengths

Finding your strengths will involve more than just naming off the things you know you are good at. Sometimes your own mental images of yourself aren't really as on-target as you might hope. So, in addition to some self-study, you'll also need to ask your friends, family, or current co-workers to tell you what they see as your strengths. If they consistently say you're a real "people" person then you might want to explore businesses that will make use of that quality. If they consistently say you're strength is in problem solving then maybe some type of consulting would be the best route to go.

Here are some questions to consider in this time of self- and peer-based evaluation...

  • What do you like to do?
  • What do you have experience doing?
  • What do you think you are good at?
  • What does everyone else think you are good at?
  • Do you have special education in the area(s) you are interested in?
  • Do you have the right mindset to run your own business? (i.e. Do you have expectations of challenge, hard work, long hours, and little money to begin with?)
  • Are you willing to put in 60 hour weeks to make your business work?
  • Are you resourceful?
  • Are you a high-energy person?
  • Are you a dreamer or more down-to-earth?
  • Can you bounce back from criticism and rejection? (More than just a few times?)

Use our Self-Evaluation Worksheet found on the Tools page of this article or simply write down your answers to the above questions.