I am always surprised at how many people ask, not how to start a business (that's always the second question), but what to sort of business to start. I'm definitely not suggesting that I'm the font of all business ideas, I'm really not, but I wouldn't have thought that it's not too difficult to come up with the idea. How wrong I am!
Full hypocritical disclosure - I have co-founded two companies, neither of which were my idea! The first I was already doing something similar for another company and it was suggested I do it for myself, but in another country. To that point, I had not had the ambition to be a business leader. The second was a company that was already founded, but if failing. It needed someone to help start from scratch, so I started working on it with the owner and got called co-founder with some shareholding.
What qualifies me to write this then? Having spent 13-years in entrepreneurial roles. I also had the privilege of being on the board of the Entrepreneur's Organization, which allowed me to have been in the company of other business leaders and seen how they came to start their companies.
Many of these people started their journey by spending time in their industry and realised they could do it better for themselves. Others saw something was wrong, that affected them and they decided to change it. One of my friends got made redundant and bought a fast food franchise as he had nothing much else to do and now owns a small chain of them.
What inspired them?
What do you LOVE to do? Is there scope to do that for a living, either as a sole trader, or larger business? Following your passion has to be the number 1 reason for people to start their own business. That stat is based on Duncan-research.. So many of my business friends do what they love, every day, with other people as passionate as they are. It's very COOL to watch!
Look around you - what do you do for a living already? What frustrates you about your current company? Do you see how you could be more productive on your own? Is there a piece of technology that your industry uses that really isn't up to the job?
What doesn't work for you? - I know someone who could never get their bike spares on one website, so they started their own website in their spare time, now she employs 50+ people. Do you receive poor service regularly? Is there space for you to do it better?
How to find your thing?
Your thing doesn't have to change the world for everybody, but it has to enable your world to change, or you won't stick with it..
Start by writing down all the things you love, all the things you hate and all the things you think need to be fixed
Look for companies already don't the things you've written down. Is there space for you to do something similar? Can you do it better?
Can you do it part time until it's big enough to support you?
Is it scalable? Can technology help you?
Can you self-fund, or need to speak to some nice friends or family?
Who do you know, or can connect with, to help you?
Get on with it!
There are a gazillion places to look for help, and the web is a bit of a minefield. I hope my posts will be useful.
Point 7 is where it's at! GET SHIT DONE!
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Here's a great article from Entrepreneur on the subject.