What Sort Of Business, Did You Say?!

March 27, 2014 in Small Business, Small Business Advice by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

If you’ve attended a Small Business Network meeting, the chances are you have already launched your small business. But if you are still at the ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ stage, have you thought about what you want to do? How do you decide what sort of business to start? You can’t just pick a product or service you know nothing about!

Most new small business owners launch their business because they want to turn their hobby into a money-maker. But sometimes people fall into their new venture. Perhaps they were made redundant from a full-time job, or went of their own volition, and left with knowledge, skills and contacts in that field. Maybe they started out by helping friends and family: helping a friend pick the perfect wedding dress or a new suit for a killer interview could lead to becoming a personal shopper; learning how to fix your own computer and write your own programmes could morph into a career. Sometimes an opportunity just falls in your lap – like learning reiki or moving from using a product to selling it, just as Sarah Montgomery, who sells Forever’s aloe vera products, has done.

But there’s more to launching a successful small business than just having a passion you think might make you some money. First, you need to ask yourself if you could keep that passion when you’re doing whatever it is all day, every day and, in the beginning, all night, too. I always loved horses, but decided as a teenager I would never make them my life because I know that having to be outside every day in all weathers, mucking out, dealing with sick or lame horses, and with those with less than equitable temperaments would soon turn the hobby into a hated chore.

Second, you need to ask yourself honestly if you’re as good at whatever it is as you think you are. If you can’t make an honest analysis of your ability, ask your best friend instead. Can you really write scintillating copy everyone will want to read? Or have the healing touch? Or a creative flair that ensures your web pages are more attractive than the next designer’s? Remember, it’s a competitive world out there and any chinks in your armour will soon be revealed.

And that brings us to the third consideration: how much competition is there in your field in your chosen geographical area? Some skills, such as writing and web design, can be done remotely, widening your potential customer base. Some, such as accountancy and computer support, are in such demand that, providing you are good enough, you should not want for customers. But if there are already four or five hypnotherapists or business coaches or dog walkers in your catchment area, there is no point in setting up a hypnotherapy practice unless you are prepared to travel widely.

In any case, you have to like what you’re doing. Someone who doesn’t know a flan tin from a bundt pan and has never baked a cake in their life wouldn’t – I hope – dream of starting a cake (or a catering) business. Think about it: if you don’t like the subject, you’re going to hate every minute of your working life. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t be good at it. If you’re not good at it, you won’t succeed.