What’s the difference between a good business idea and a profitable one? What if I told you that choosing a business idea was nowhere near as important as strategically planning your business idea.
Last week I held a mastermind focus group with budding and aspiring entrepreneurs. I wanted to take a closer look at the obstacles that came between brilliant minds and sustainable businesses.
“How do I choose a business idea?”
This was a question that came up over and over again. Realistically, you can find hundreds of business ideas to choose from by searching Google. There are tech business ideas, crafty business ideas, and even great ways to make money from home. But, we aren’t looking for any business idea, we want the right business idea.
We like our information handed to us step-by-step. These entrepreneurs needed actionable advice that would not only point them in the right direction but tell them exactly which turns to make.
When choosing a business idea that works for us, we have to take into account our interests, preferences, our schedules, desired lifestyle and the potential profits. Like having a baby, it’s a life-changing decision.
I actually have a proven system for choosing a business idea that you love.
- Discover the traits that make you an expert
- How to find your primitive audience by borrowing an audience
- How to choose between multiple business ideas
Step #1 – Set your foundation
When coming up with a new business idea, it’s important to choose a foundation topic that already has a market. I turn to the professionals to figure out what people are actually interested in.
In this post, Dan Hinckley documents the online shopping habits of consumers. The data he’s collected reveals that people rely on Google for reviews and information before making a purchase. More importantly, he found that most people never go past the first two pages of results.
You know which websites can be found on the first two page of google? The big-league players.
So, that’s where I start.
Go to a popular industry website like Lifehacker, Huffington Post, or Mashable to find the topics that have the potential to be a foundation for your next business idea.
Most entrepreneurs get into a tizzy over the question, “Is it marketable?” Step one of this exercise eliminates that headache. You at least know that the topic you’ve chosen is, in fact marketable.
Any of these topics can be used as a foundation for your business
- Unlike your usual blogger, these types of blogs appeal to a variety of niches.
- Their goal is to mass-market to a diverse audience.
- They specialize in not specializing – offering content that everyone would enjoy and separating them using categories.
Make two lists:
The categories that stood out because you would consider yourself an expert
The categories that stood out because you’re interested in learning more
- The categories that stood out because you would consider yourself an expert
- The categories that stood out because you’re interested in learning more
How do you qualify as an expert?
You just have to know more or be better than the average person.
Step #2- Identify the Influencers
Picture courtesy of Mariya Georgieva
Which categories made it to both lists?
These are the niches you’re interested in and have enough experience with to start a business. Browse through the articles in those categories and write down the names of the people who have contributed more than twice.
Usually, these writers have other revenue sources online such as books, products, and courses. More importantly, they have strong social media followings.
Their audience = a primitive version of your audience.
I prefer organizing influencers by creating private lists on Twitter. It’s the simplest way for me to identify and store them – but do what works for you. You can achieve the same results with a method like Google sheets, an Excel spreadsheet, or an application like Evernote.
Why should you care about these people?
- They have established relationships with top industry players
- They are verified experts and have an audience that trusts them
- Most influencers run in the same circles
Even if you have absolutely ZERO interest in writing anything, you’ll find that they can be useful in other ways like collaborations and referrals. When building a relationship with influencers, be genuine and considerate of their time!
You get your foot in the door by rubbing elbows with people who already have their feet in the door.
- see which social media platforms they thrive on (that’s where your audience is)
- figure out how they make their money (that’s where your revenue is)
- examine how they interact with their audience and how much engagement they receive in return (that’s where your branding is)
Congratulations, you’ve gotten a nice aerial view of the playground.
You know who the leaders are, who the players are, and what the game is all about. Now it’s time to figure out where you fit in all this.
Step #3- Establish your specialty
There are only three questions you need to ask to pinpoint your specialty:
Question #1: What do your friends and peers always ask for your help about?
The people around you value you as a resource about something! Whether it’s information you have or something you know how to do well, they are turning to you for help instead of Google (which would probably be faster). Why? Because they already TRUST YOU.
When searching for the perfect business idea, trust the people that trust you!
— NiaSweetz @ SIPBLACK (@SipBlackdotNET) March 4, 2016
If you find it difficult to answer this question, then it may be helpful to track these interactions. The next time someone asks you for something, have them email it to you.
It might sound odd (especially when it’s for a quick answer to a question), but tell them you need a minute to think about it and you promise to reply right away.
As you gather these emails, you’ll begin to see a common trend in how people view you and get an insider’s look as to HOW these questions are asked.
Question #2- Do you ever look at other businesses and entrepreneurs, thinking to yourself, “I can do that!”
With every business I’ve started, I saw a business providing a something that I thought could be done better. When my hands got full, my consultation services were born.
By then, I had a proven record of building a business from the ground up, and it was much easier to spot the businesses that could benefit from my help.
Are you constantly finding ways that other businesses could improve? Do you have a business that you love but you’re frustrated with their business structure?
If you can do it better, do it yourself.
Question #3- What do you do when you have free time?
What do you thoroughly enjoy and can never see yourself getting tired of doing?
Most of us would do what we love for free. What kinds of activities give you that pleasure?
Entrepreneurs achieve longevity by doing what they love every day and outsourcing the rest. The best place to start looking for your next business idea is by analyzing how you spend your time.
I’m sure you’re already getting a vague sense of business ideas that would work for you. You may still be having trouble narrowing down your specific niche and how you can make it work with the resources you have.
Step #4- Tie it all together
You’ve built your foundation, you’ve done research on the influencers in your industry, and you’ve established your expertise.
I’m going to have you make one more list. Combine the activities you love to do, your expertise, and your topic to create a list of possible business ideas.
Which one of these ideas would be the easiest to start… given your current circumstance? Don’t panic because it’s not forever. It’s simply right now.
- gain the valuable experience you need
- start generating an income to reinvest in yourself
- establish your brand / brand personality/ brand voice
- make entrepreneurial connections
Combine the list of topics you were interested in, topics you want to know more about, what you’re good at/enjoy, and what you can start right now. Not next month, or even next week. Right this minute.
Step One – Set your Foundation
Step Two – Identify the Influencers
Step Three – Establish Your Specialty
Step Four – Tie It All Together
You have a unique business idea ready to go.
Starting with a viable business idea might work (if you’re lucky), but there’s only one way to be sure an idea is worth the time, money, and effort- you have to plan it out entirely. It’s not your idea that needs to be perfect, it’s your execution.
How do you think you can make your business idea unique? Let me know in the comments below!