How to Choose the Right Business

Choosing the right business is the single most important factor in starting your own company. The kind of business you choose has to appeal to you. You also must have confidence in and enthusiasm for your product or service. Because your new business will require hard work and many long hours, it’s important that you enjoy every aspect of your business venture. If you put forth a 90 percent effort, you won’t receive a 100 percent return. Therefore, unless you really love your business, you’ll never be motivated to persist long enough to succeed.

One of the best ways to identify what you want to do is to de­fine your personal values, for they are the foundation of your business. Once you get a clear idea of what you value, you’ll find it easier to decide what type of business to start. If you’re in a business that reflects your personal values, your work will be enjoyable and rewarding. Conversely, if you start a business that is contrary to your values, it will be very difficult to become successful.

Many of you may have spent your lives working for other people, fulfilling their expectations. And if you’re like most people, you’ve planned your life to please others. It will not be easy, therefore, to identify your personal values. It will take time and a lot of thinking.

For example, if you value art, look into the arts and crafts. If you value people, you should perhaps go into teaching or an­other field that provides services for people. If you value good food, perhaps you should look into the restaurant or deli busi­ness. If you value things, consider businesses related to home improvement.

You also need to define your ideal business. Ask yourself about the kind of people you want to spend your time with, both as customers and as co-workers or employees. For example, sell­ing your product or services to small children is very different from selling to senior citizens. The choice you make will affect your products, services, and marketing.

You also need to ask yourself about the hours you want to work. The kind of business you choose will determine the length of your work day and which days you work. For example, if you are planning to open a restaurant, you will work in the eve­nings, six or even seven nights a week. If you open a retail busi­ness, you need to plan to work weekends, because this is when many retail operations do the most business.

Other helpful questions are: Where do you want to work? Do you want to work at home? What do you do in your spare time that could be turned into a business? What have you learned from previous jobs that you could use to start your own busi­ness? What unique abilities and talents do you have that would be useful? Finally, what would you do if you were totally with­out limitations of money, time, location, or family? By answer­ing each of these questions honestly, you will begin to under­stand what kind of business is appropriate for you.

Once you have defined your values and what you want out of your business, you have to determine who needs what you are planning to offer. Your product or service must fill a genuine need or solve a problem for the customer. Your product or ser­vice must make your customers life better in some way. It must be of good quality at a reasonable price. And if you are in com­petition, your product or service must have a “Unique Selling Proposition.” The Unique Selling Proposition is the singular ad­vantage of your product or service that distinguishes it from that of all your competitors.

Most would-be business owners don’t do enough research. They start a business without gathering enough information to help them make rational, success-oriented decisions and plans. Un­fortunately, many ideas that seem wonderful at first don’t hold up under close examination. If you’re in a hurry to start your business, you probably won’t do enough research. In the end, it will take you longer to make a profit because you’ll spend time and money that you could have saved if you had researched your product or service. New products or services that are in­troduced into the market untested have a 98 percent failure rate. Tested products have only a 20 percent failure rate.

You can begin your research by simply looking around and lis­tening. Go to your local newsstand or library and look through all the business magazines and newspapers. Specifically, look at ads for products and services. You can get a wealth of ideas this way. If an ad interests you, think of how you could make that product different or better in some way. When you tell your friends and relatives that you are thinking of starting your own business, ask them for their ideas about products or services you could sell. Go to trade shows—they can be a wonderful source of ideas, and there are thousands of them across the

United States each year. Just contact your Chamber of Com­merce for local listings.

Recall your previous jobs. Is there something you did or saw that you could turn into a successful business? Many new busi­nesses (and fortunes) have been started by employees who broke away from their current jobs because they saw a way to improve an existing product or service.

Another excellent source of ideas is your local bank. If you do not have a bank account, open one. Next, make an appointment with the bank manager to discuss opening a new business. Banks deal with hundreds of small-business owners, and most managers will be happy to give you many ideas. Such contact is important not only for ideas but also for capital.

New business ideas and opportunities will present themselves to you every day. What you have to do is learn to recognize and take advantage of them.

Once you have found a product or service that you want to sell, you must do some fast and inexpensive research. Start by ask­ing yourself three simple questions:

1. Is there a market for your product or service?

2. Is the market large enough? Are there enough people to buy your product or service to make your business a suc­cess? (You have to be very careful when answering this question. There may be people who will buy your product or service, but there may not be enough of them to keep your business going once you’ve started it.)

3. Is the market concentrated enough for you to reach all your prospects and customers in a cost-effective way with marketing and advertising? For example, there might be a large market for your product or service throughout the country, but your local market might be very small. There­fore, your new, small business might be much too expen­sive to operate.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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