Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

What Business to Start? Look in the Mirror. Depends on You.

I’ve always said that what business is right for you depends not on the market, or what’s hot, but on who you are. So look in the mirror. I get a steady flow of questions about what business to start, and I see them almost every day on Quora.com, my favorite question-answer platform. With this in mind, I always say…

look in the mirror. What business is best to start depends on who you are, where you are, what you do well, what you like to do, and what you can do that other people need, want, and will pay for.

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I also refer to two now-classic posts by others that sum this up very well.

First, What Kind of Startup is Right for You, a post by Nellie Akalp on Mashable in 2012. Nellie goes right to the heart of an often misunderstood core concept of small business, which is that the best business for you depends almost entirely on who your are, what you want, and what you do.

The best business is always a matter of context. You look in the mirror and figure out who you are, then you apply that to business. Here’s just a quick piece, two paragraphs:

Create a list of skills that covers what you’re good at and areas where you’re a subject matter expert. Then list out the things you like to do. Compare these two lists and see if any patterns emerge, or point to any business type that aligns both your strengths and passions.

Imagine yourself at a cocktail party, Tweetup or other networking event, and you’re asked that inevitable question: “So, what do you do?” Think about how you’ll respond with each potential business option. Are you proud and excited to describe your new business? Or a little embarrassed and looking to steer the conversation elsewhere?

This is really good advice. She has five points in the post, all of them worth reading.

The second one is called How to Fit Freelancing Into the Rest of Your Life, on freelance folder, written by Laura Spencer. It’s another reminder that what’s best for each individual you depends on your specific needs and nature.

For example, one of her points is “Know Yourself:”

What enables you to do your best work? Do you need quiet, or do you thrive in the midst of chaos? Are you your most creative first thing in the morning, or are you best late at night? What inspires you? Some freelancers are inspired by music, others by art or nature. Does clutter bother you, or can you work just about anywhere? Once you understand what enables you to do your best work, you can make sure that your work environment fits the bill.

Two very good posts. Conclusion: generalizations are dangerous. Every startup entrepreneur, ever solopreneur and freelancer, is a different case.

(image: bigstockphoto.com)

What business to start depends on who you are, where you are, what you do well, what other people need, want, and will pay for.