Just because you don’t have a business idea yet doesn’t mean you can’t be in business. Not everyone launches a business they’ve been dreaming about since childhood. Even Mark Zukerberg didn’t launch Facebook with his childhood dreams in mind. The idea came to him while he was in university and even then he had no idea what it would turn in to.
Businesses are like weddings. Just because you weren’t planning it while in kindergarten doesn’t mean it won’t be a success. Finding the right business idea can come to you anytime and in a way you weren’t expecting!
If you’re like me, working for yourself wasn’t a reality growing up. This is so silly but I thought entrepreneurs were either billionaire men with bad hair, trades people (I have a couple of uncles in the trades), or women who sold Avon. Not an overly inspiring list to aspire to. Although, I’m sure I would have kicked butt in the trades. But that’s another life:) What I’m trying to say is don’t sweat it if you don’t yet know what you want to do but do know you want to work for yourself. Read on because I’ve got some great tips on how to navigate yourself in the right direction to launching your very first business.
The thought of working for myself first came to me in school. I was a post-graduate student, studying to be a public relations professional and I had the world at my fingertips. At the time, I wanted so badly to work in the fashion industry. Fashion and PR sounded like such an awesome time to me. As an introvert, the whole space exhausted me. But as a creative, the idea drove me. The creative-introvert-trying-to-be-extrovert-me met some awesome people who introduced me to an incredibly talented woman who ran her own boutique PR agency. I asked her if she needed a volunteer and she did. For six months I sat in her apartment once a week and filed names of people she met at fashion shows, came up with tag lines for magazine spreads, and put together invitations for trunk shows. It was eye-opening to get a first-hand glimpse into what running a one-person agency was truly like. When I graduated school and got my first corporate job I found myself looking back at that time and yearning to do what my mentor did someday. But, as I grew as a working adult, so did my vision.
Read below for what I did along with some additional suggestions to finding the right business idea if you haven’t arrived at one yet:
Network – If you’re not into signing up for speed networking at your local coffee shop, don’t sweat. Networking doesn’t have to be organized – although there are a lot of awesome networking groups out there. Check out Meetup and find people who you can click with in your area or join online groups. There are many awesome ones out there like Female Entrepreneur Association, Femfessionals, Rising Tide Society, and more. You can also turn gatherings at friends’ houses or special events into networking opportunities. Introduce yourself to new people and new doors and business ideas will open.
Volunteer – Another great way to find the right business idea is to volunteer. If you have an idea of what you’d like to do in mind, why not volunteer as I did? Entrepreneurs are usually open to free help and the experience will provide you with an amazing opportunity to get a first-hand-glimpse into what life would be like for you.
Interview – When I was in school, the informational interview was a big thing. My teachers would tell us if we wanted to learn more about a certain industry or company then we should set up informational interviews. These were great because we got to introduce ourselves without having to go for an actual interview which took the pressure off. I remember going for an informational interview at Fashion Magazine. Best day ever. Never worked for them but I got a glimpse into what life is like in the editorial department there (and I scored some free samples.) Informational interviews work for entrepreneurs too. Connect with people who are running businesses that you think you’d be interested in for yourself. Ask them questions to help you understand how they got started, what their startup costs were, what their daily life is like, etc. Just be careful about asking about clients and income. Those types of questions don’t always go well from a future competitor;)
Look at your hobbies – Do you sew in your spare time? Have you thought of launching a decorative pillow business? Do you enjoy building furniture for your own living room? Why not make money and build furniture for clients?
Mind map – I used to write out lists and then someone showed me how to mind map. I like to use Coggle when mind mapping online or write it out by hand in a notebook using different coloured markers. Set aside an hour to make your own. Start with industries and then niches you’d be interested. Also think about what hobbies you enjoy doing now and things you enjoyed doing when you were younger. Don’t overthink it just let the ideas flow.
Take a baby step – I knew I wanted to do “something different” but didn’t quite know what. So I started freelance writing and that lead me to connect with different people running different businesses. One biz that struck an inspiring chord for me was virtual assisting. I met a woman who was guest writing on various online resources about the virtual assistant business and she ran her own firm. I interviewed her and realize it was something I too could do. And then my very first business, VIP Assistant Solutions, was born:)
Talk about it – Whenever I have an idea flowing through my mind I talk about it. I don’t try and get other people’s approval but I do like to get a sense of whether or not people understand what it’s all about. When I transitioned from a virtual assistant to a marketer I talked about it with my husband. Seeing him nod his head in understanding and encouragement solidified for me that I was on the right track.
Hop on Quora – I love Quora. There’s every question you can ever think of on there and people have every answer for every question;) Search for business ideas and you’re bound to come across countless ideas and advice.
Browse LinkedIn – Take a look at your LinkedIn connections and look at the “people you may know” section. You’ll find there are a lot of people with very interesting businesses that you might be interested in launching yourself.
Combine ideas – Do you want to launch a bakery but you also enjoy running? How about launching a bakery with baked goods that are good for you? Baked goods that are high in protein and perfect for after a workout would be awesome!
There are so many ways you can research, confirm, and come up with business ideas. The trick is to begin. I hope some of the above suggestions were helpful for you!