Endless job applications and interview callbacks 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 working for yourself, and each new venture comes with its own set of challenges. Below, we’ll explore the qualities of a good business idea, how to create your own job, and the pros and cons of being your own boss.
The qualities of a good business idea
There’s no limit to what kind of business you can build for yourself. While the specifics will vary, there are a few consistent key elements to all successful businesses.
Ensure a clear demand for your products
Supply and demand are the building blocks of all business. Every business idea should have hard and clear evidence of demand in your market or field. You can gauge market demand in a few ways. Marketing and outreach software can get your idea in front of your desired audience, or you could get in touch with them using interest surveys or open forums.
Make short- and long-term plans
Having a detailed plan is crucial to making any entrepreneurial endeavor successful. Your long-term plans and your short-term plans should work together to keep you on track. Setting SMART goals in the short term will set you up for success in the long term.
Have a vision that can grow
Don’t be afraid to alter part—or all—of your idea based on new information or experience. Sometimes change is necessary. It’s important to keep up with the current market and be willing to adapt to unanticipated feedback from your customer base. Being flexible and open-minded can mean the difference between having your idea remain an idea or getting it out in the world. Remember, you can always circle back after you’ve established yourself.
Work from an idea that motivates you
Your business idea doesn’t necessarily have to be based on doing something that you love—though that helps—but it should be based on something you’re 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 your business
Once you’ve got an idea and know that there’s a demand for it, you can get started on making it a reality. Below are some standard starting points in getting a business up and running.
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. The results of that research will be the foundation of your customer service philosophy. Decide how you’re going to serve your customers, through what channels, and what is easiest or most accessible for your client base. Market research is also important to get an accurate read on the real problems, hardships, or difficulties your prospective customers face.
Fulfill a need
Once you’ve found your market and done some research, it’s time to identify a specific need you plan to address. For example, entrepreneur Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, identified a need for shapewear that was discreet and comfortable. She filled that need with Spanx. After you’ve identified the needs of your market, you can start to create something concrete that can answer those needs.
Survey your customer base
Another helpful step in the creative process is to get out and directly address your potential customer base. You can do this with an email campaign, an open forum, or an online survey. This can help you market more effectively and help grow your business by building connections and uncovering further market needs. See how Mailchimp's free online survey maker compares to the competition.
Build a budget
Make sure you consider all potential costs when creating 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 there are some things you just can’t DIY. Startup business costs can include:
- Product production/manufacturing
- Store or office rental
- Promotional materials
- Storage or production space rental
- Interior design
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 adviser who can help you build and maintain a flexible budget.
Find investors if necessary
After you’ve established your budget, you can determine whether acquiring investors will be a helpful or feasible option for you. Investors can be a great resource for getting a new business financially established. 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.
It’s important to remember that business ideas are rarely perfect from the get-go. Be open to adjusting your plan, budget, and ideas as needs arise. Try to avoid major last-minute changes, however, because they can have effects down the line.
Deadlines can be a useful tool and can help keep your goals on track. With firm deadlines, you can help yourself maintain boundaries, recognize what is plausible and implausible for you, set detail-oriented goals, and measure your success.
Pros and cons of entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship can be rewarding, creatively fulfilling, and a great alternative to a traditional 9-to-5. However, it’s not easy to start and maintain a small business.
There are 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
- Reaping financial payoffs
- Being creatively fulfilled
But along with the benefits, there are some drawbacks that new and seasoned small business owners alike can experience.
- Uncertainty about the future
- Financial ups and downs
- Skewed work-life balance
- Limited support and resources
Having a business idea and seeing it through the creation process can be a difficult but ultimately rewarding choice. If you’re motivated, organized, and goal-oriented, then running your own business might be the right career move for you.