Endless job applications and interview call-backs may seem like the gatekeepers of employment, but that’s not necessarily the case. Entrepreneurship is an option that many people pursue, especially in our expanding freelance and small business economy. There are pros and cons to creating your own job, and each new venture comes with its own set of challenges. Below, we’ll explore the qualities and creation of a good business idea, and the pros and cons of being your own boss.
The Qualities of a Good Business Idea
There really is no limit to what kind of business ideas could be produced and put on the market. While their specifics may differ wildly, there are a few key things that successful business ideas have in common:
There Is Clear Demand for the Product or Service
Supply and demand are the building blocks of all business, so when you’re working on your business idea, you should have hard and clear evidence of demand in your market or field. You can gauge market demand through marketing and outreach software or by getting in touch with your desired audience with an interest survey or open forum.
You Have a Short and Long-Term Plan
Having a clear plan is crucial to making any entrepreneurial endeavor successful. It’s important to have both a long-term and a short-term plan so that you don’t get overwhelmed with the day-to-day. Setting SMART goals can help you achieve success in the short-term, which will help improve your chances for long-term success.
Your Vision Has Room To Grow
Don’t be afraid to alter part — or sometimes all — of your idea based on new information or experience. Whether you receive unanticipated feedback from your intended customer base or change is necessary to fit the current market, being flexible and open-minded with your idea or goals can mean the difference between having your idea live on paper, or on the shelves. Remember: you can always circle back after you’ve established yourself in your niche.
The Idea Motivates You
Your business idea doesn’t necessarily have to be based on doing something that you love — though that helps — it should be based on something that you are motivated to pursue. Whether you’re working to serve a cause or community that’s important to you, honing a skill set or helping others do the same, motivation can help keep you inspired during challenging times.
How to Create a Good Business Idea
Once you’ve got an idea, you can get started on making it a reality. Depending on your idea, you may have more steps to follow, but below are some standard starting points in the creation process.
Research the Market
Whatever idea you have, your product or service will be aimed at a specific group of people and/or at meeting specific needs. It’s important to research the market you plan to serve so you can start to create a customer service philosophy — this can be deciding how you’re going to serve your customers, through what channels, or what is easiest or most accessible for your client base. Market research is also important so you can get an accurate read on what the real problems, hardships, or difficulties your prospective customers face.
Identify a Need to Address
Once you’ve found your market and done some research, it’s time to identify a specific need to address. For example, famous entrepreneur Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, identified a need for shapewear that was discreet and comfortable, and she filled that need with Spanx. After you’ve identified the needs of your market, then you can start to create something concrete that can answer those needs.
Survey Your Potential Customer Base
Another helpful step in the creative process is to get out and directly talk to your potential customer base. This can be accomplished through an email campaign, an open forum, on an online survey. Not only can this help you market more effectively, but it can also help grow your business by building connections, and uncover further market needs.
Build a Budget
Make sure that you consider all potential costs when making your business budget. There are a lot of resources that can help you do things for free or at a reduced cost — like website building or product page design — but some things you just can’t DIY. Starting business costs can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Product production costs;
- Store or building rental;
- Employee or staffing costs;
- Promotional material cost;
- Storage or production space rental;
- Interior design costs.
It can be easy to underestimate the cost of starting a business if you’ve never done it before. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the what-ifs, hire a financial advisor who can help you build and maintain a flexible budget that is doable for your price range.
Find Investors if Necessary
After your budget is established, you can determine whether acquiring investors will be a helpful or feasible option for you. Investors can be a great resource for funding and getting a new business up on its feet, however, they can also mean sacrificing some creative control. If you are going to pursue investors, you’ll want to learn how to prepare a pitch deck.
Gradually Adjust Your Plan
It's important to remember that business ideas are never perfect from the jump. Be open to adjusting your plan, budget, and ideas as the needs arise. Try to avoid drastic last-minute changes, however, because they can wreck your short-term goals, your budget, and your long-term goals as well.
Deadlines can be a useful tool and can help keep your goals on track. With firm deadlines, you can help yourself maintain boundaries between what is plausible and implausible for you right now, set more detail-oriented goals, and measure your success.
Pros and Cons of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding, creatively fulfilling, and a great alternative to a traditional nine-to-five. However, it is often very difficult to start and maintain a small business, and not everyone is up to the challenge.
There can be some incredible benefits for starting your own business or becoming a freelancer, including:
- Being your own boss;
- Finding untapped niches in a market;
- Becoming an innovator;
- Potential financial payoffs;
- Creative fulfillment.
But along with the benefits, there are some drawbacks that new and seasoned small business owners alike can experience:
- Uncertainty of the future;
- Large amounts of work;
- Limited support and resources.
Having a business idea and seeing it through the creation process can be an incredibly rewarding and difficult career choice. However, if you’re motivated, organized, and goal-oriented, then running your own business might be the right career for you.