If you are like me, you have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Your mind is constantly churning with possible small business ideas. Your problem is selecting the right business idea.
Or maybe you never thought you would be an entrepreneur, but your family could really use some extra income, and starting a small business seems like the answer. Your problem is coming up with a business idea.
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information see my disclosures.
Whether your problem is too many small business ideas or not enough, they both boil down to the same dilemma. It’s tough to discover the best possible small business idea for you! Time is limited, and resources can’t be wasted on half-baked ideas.
Let’s start brainstorming to come up with that perfect business idea for you!
Brainstorm the Topic
First we are going to begin by brainstorming the topic around which your business will be formed. If you enjoy putting pen to paper grab an empty notebook or some blank index cards. If you enjoy capturing your thoughts electronically, open up a fresh Word document or a new Evernote note. Set aside some quiet time with zero interruptions. Use the brainstorming prompts below and just write and write anything that comes to mind. Don’t filter your responses, just write.
What skills or knowledge to you currently posses? Do you have special training in an area?
What hobbies or passions do you have?
What do you feel you do well compared to others?
What do you find yourself thinking about all day long?
What problems do you have in your life? What problems do your friends complain about?
What obstacles or fears have you overcome?
What would you like to learn more about? How would you like to grow or stretch yourself?
Have any books or blogs you’ve read lately sparked any interesting ideas?
What products do you love to use around your home?
What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
After you have spent some time brainstorming, begin to look for patterns in your responses. Do you see any recurring themes? What possible topics excite you the most? You don’t have to select your top choice just yet. At this point just reflect on your brainstorming responses.
Brainstorm the Type
Hopefully, your first brainstorming session produced some possible topic ideas. But each and every topic can be turned into many different types of businesses. The type of business that’s right for you is largely dependent on your personality and available resources. Let’s do some brainstorming to help you determine what type of business might work well for you.
Once again, set aside some quiet time and take a look at the brainstorming prompts. Write and write without filtering your answers.
Do you like personal interactions or do you prefer to work on your own?
Do you want to stand out, or be more in the background?
How much time do you have to devote to your venture?
Do you want this to be a full-time income or side income?
What form of social media do you enjoy using the most?
How much money can you invest in starting your business?
Do you prefer to write, talk, or be on video?
Do you like to make things with your hands? Are you crafty?
Consider your responses as you head into the next section. Your answers to these questions will help you focus in on the type of business that fits your own personal style.
Now it’s time to mesh the two brainstorming responses together. Look for creative ways to mesh a topic with the type of business that would work best for you. Look for recurring themes both in the topic your business might center around and around the type of business that will fit your personality and other life objectives.
Let’s look at an example of ways you can combine a topic with a type of business.
Let’s say you are awesome at crochet. It is your passion. When you completed the topical brainstorm session, crochet kept coming up over and over. Handcrafts, in general, are coming back into vogue, plus you know so many women who love crochet and hand goods, so you think a business around crochet could be profitable. Creating crochet products and selling them at craft fairs and on Etsy may be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to a business idea, and that is certainly a possibility. However, there are even more avenues for you to consider. You could:
- sell crochet supplies
- sell PDF crochet patterns
- blog about crochet
- self-publish E-books about how to crochet
- create courses on how to crochet on sites such as Udemy or Craftsy
- create a podcast about crochet
- teach crochet at your local community college
- speak and teach about crochet at women group’s
- plan crochet retreats
- open up a brick and mortar store centered around crochet products and supplies
See how one great topic, could be turned into many different types of businesses? And I’m sure I’m forgetting some!
This is where taking time to consider all your possibilities is so important. You may have the perfect business topic but if you align your topic with an ill-suited business type, you may not achieve the type of success you want. Aligning your topic with a business type that fits your personality and life goals is so important.
If you are a mom to young children, selling products at craft shows may be difficult. If you are petrified of public speaking, creating women’s retreats is probably not the best fit. If you like to be more behind the scenes, selling products and patterns on Etsy might be a good fit. If you want to put yourself out there a bit more, a blog or podcast might be a great way to stretch yourself.
Consider your long-term goals for your business. If you have always wanted to be a speaker traveling the country, start by teaching at your community college, giving talks at your library, or doing demonstrations to women’s groups. If your goal is to ultimately generate an income passively; books, courses, or a blog could be the solution for you.
Hopefully, you can start to imagine the possibilities. One business topic can be turned into so many different types of businesses! Consider all facets of your personality and stage of life as you begin to settle on the right business path for you.
My book Idea Craft is a great resource for exploring all possible types of small businesses. In order to choose the right business for you, you need to have an understanding of all your options and choices.
On Pinterest, I have created boards about so many different types of businesses. Peruse my board titles to see if a business type jumps out at you. You can follow me at SmallBizSarah.
Can It Be Profitable?
At this point, it’s OK to have several different topics and several different types of businesses that are contenders for the coveted spot of “The Best Business Idea”. Continue to ponder and consider several possibilities as we look at the last step.
In the book $100 Startup (one of my absolute favorite business books), Chris Guillebeau makes the point that a prime consideration when creating a business is to make sure you have a way to get paid. That is the point after all! It’s surprisingly easy to embark on a business path without a clear plan of how this idea will make money. Make sure there is a way to get paid! For instance, if you begin by speaking at your local library about crochet for free, that’s fine as long as you know that your ultimate goal is to be a paid speaker at larger events.
Steve Scott of Authority.pub (a self-publishing website) talks about authors selecting a book niche based on where Profit, Passion, and Personal Experience intersect. Think of a Venn diagram, and the center point of the three P’s will make a great business idea. Notice how he doesn’t stop short at Passion and Personal Experience. Those are great components of possible business ideas (or book ideas in his case) but the Profit is also important. Your business topic + business type needs to have the capacity to be profitable.
Make sure that your idea has the possibility of being profitable and that it is something that people are willing to pay for. To continue along with our example of crochet, if you decide you want to sell your crocheted items on Etsy, do a little market research first. What are other sellers charging for similar crochet items? Once you pay for your supplies will there be enough left over to make it worthwhile?
As another example, if you are passionate about making clothing for guinea pigs (just throwing that out there!) before you embark on a guinea pig clothing empire, do a little market research to make sure it has the potential to be a profitable idea. Is anyone actually willing to pay for guinea pig clothing?
Give yourself some time to ponder all of the awesome possibilities you just came up with. Talk with your husband and friends. See if you are still really excited about your idea in a week, and then start hustling! The best business idea in the world won’t earn a dime until you put in the hard work to make it happen. Good luck!