Considering the Entrepreneurial Spirit (Pt. 2)–Finding the Right Business Idea

Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. It involves finding a product or service you can provide that potential customers want or need. (Some people think they can convince potential customers to want their product or service. I disagree. That strategy may appear to work at first, but most customers will feel conned and coerced. My experience is that people don’t like that. They want their needs—not yours—to come first.)

It may not be necessary, but it’s a good idea to find your passion before starting a business. Why? On the surface, it appears that shouldn’t matter, that one could work hard and succeed in any business. That may be true for some people. But most people aren’t going to put in the time, effort and work into something we dislike or are neutral about. When we’re passionate, we’ll naturally work at it, even when we don’t have time, are too tired, hungry, depressed, or sick with the flu (okay not a good idea, but some of us will continuing working ‘cause we like what we’re doing so much.)

No question about it, when we love what we do, we’ll do it because it cheers us up when we’re sad, strengthens us when we’re ill, energizes us when we’re tired.

In a way, it’s like dieting. (Yes, life can be a lot like dieting. In fact, dieting is a big part of my life!) When we tell ourselves we can’t eat the foods we love and we have to make ourselves work hard at the gym, we might succeed temporarily. Our diet-workout plan might last a few days, weeks or even months before we slip back into old, comfortable and more satisfying habits.

But if we find healthy, low-calorie foods that we actually enjoy and an exercise routine that’s fun, we’re more likely to stick with it, right? Slimming down takes time, so we need a diet and exercise routine that will stand the test of that time. We may need to stick with that routine for a lifetime.

Similarly, starting a business takes time and discipline. Think about something you love to do that you could do all day long—even if no one paid you to do it. Something you’re passionate about. Something you can’t stop thinking and talking about. Does this something also interest other people? Who are those people who share your interests? Those are people who will benefit when you do what you love and share it with them because they love the same thing. When people benefit from what you are doing, they will want to help you succeed because your success will benefit them too.

Also when you’re passionate about something, you’ll naturally want to sell it to others. People are drawn to passionate, enthusiastic people too, so other people will come to you and you won’t have to work so hard at attracting them to you. (This is usually a good thing…) Often they envy your passion and will want to be a part of it.

When you love what you do, you’re likely to get good at it. Without even realizing it, you’ll spend a lot of time reading about it, learning as much as you can, practicing, rehearsing, seeking out experts who’ll often assist you with information because they share your passion too. Before you know it, you’ll become an expert and probably won’t even realize that’s what you’ve become. People will be impressed by your knowledge and enthusiasm and will start coming to you with questions, and you’ll help them without expecting anything in return. Your expertise becomes a gift to other people, and people love gifts. We have a tendency to want to reciprocate when others give to us. So you won’t need to work so hard at being a good salesperson or finding customers.

The tricky part is finding a way to transform your passion into something people will pay money for, a business. This can take some soul searching as well as trial and error. What is it that involves that thing you love to do that other people will pay money for?

If you’re a musician, for example, you can teach lessons. A musician could entertain guests at a wedding or other event. A musical messaging service might be an option. One could buy, sell or repair musical instruments. But there are other possibilities too. And that is the hard part: we need to put ourselves in the walking shoes of other people and ask ourselves when, why and where would other people pay us money to do what we love?

Whatever business idea we choose, we need to consider the customer. What does he/she want or need? This is not the same message you’ll receive from some sales people who’ll insist that other people need to be convinced to want or need something. I’m suggesting we discover what potential customers truly want or need, regardless of what we think they should want or need. Most people don’t like being told what to do, convinced or coerced into anything. Frankly, we could order someone to do something she doesn’t want to do and she might purposely do something she doesn’t want to do just to spite us! Some people dislike being told what to do that much!

So considering the customers is important. Who are they? What do they want? What do they really need that I can provide them? What can I do really, really well that customers need?

If you notice that your piano students want to learn their favorite pop songs then no matter how much you prefer Beethoven or Bach, you’ll need to teach them what they want to learn if you want to keep them paying you money. (If you don’t need money, then, I suppose, that may be a different story.) Catering to the customer can be the hardest part of entrepreneurship and the reason why some people decide not to become entrepreneurs.

But if you keep your eyes open, keep looking around for ideas, you’re bound to discover a healthy way to channel your talents into a small business of some kind—one that offers customers what they are looking for without forcing you to sacrifice your integrity.

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