FIRST STEP TO STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS:
DISCOVER YOUR PASSION
By Louise Whiteside
You’ve been retired for a year. Eighteen holes of golf, breakfast with the guys, or lunch with the girls is becoming humdrum. You think there must be something more exciting in life.
Maybe you’re working at a job that’s less than inspiring. Or worse, you’ve just been handed that proverbial pink slip.
The thought of starting your own business has piqued your imagination more than once. You’ve played with the idea of pursuing your dreams, being in control of your own destiny, expanding your nest egg or just enjoying yourself.
If any of these scenarios fits you, starting your own business may be in your future. Let’s take it a step further and see how you answer the following soul-searching questions:
1. Why would I want to start a business?
2. What would owning my own business accomplish for me?
3. Would I enjoy working for myself, and why?
A word of caution here: If the primary reason that pops into your mind is
“to make money” or “to become wealthy,” you should probably re-examine your motives. With money as your primary goal, chances are you will quickly be disappointed.
If, on the other hand, your responses are more on the order of “to have fun,” “to do what I love,” or “to help other people get what they need or want,” you’re on the right track. Also, if you are dependent on your current job to make a living, start your business slowly and let it grow before quitting that job.
The key words you need to have in your business lexicon are “passion,” “excitement,” “enjoyment” and “love.”
You get the idea: Don’t even think about starting a new business to make money. Without passion for what you do, you won’t be able to navigate through that difficult first year. As soon as you meet the first big obstacle — and you will — you will burn out. On the other hand, you’ll discover that when you have excitement and enthusiasm for what you do, money will naturally flow your way. It cannot, and will not, work in the reverse order!
So by now you may be thinking that owning your own business could be fun and challenging for you.
“But what could I do, I have no special talents or skills,” might be your next thought.
One answer: Start with your hobby. For example, you’ve always loved gardening. How about providing a landscaping or plant-maintenance service in your community? You enjoy building things in your workshop. People are willing (and happy) to pay a good cabinetmaker or carpenter for his services. You love babies and small children. Many of your neighbors are probably clamoring for reliable day-care services.
These are just suggestions. You are limited only by your imagination. So try this fun brainstorming exercise to give you focus:
Don’t censor, just write whatever pops into your mind: List the top 10 things that bring you enjoyment and fun.
Now, for each of your “enjoyable” activities, list 10 ways you could provide a
product or service associated with that activity (for example: you love to eat. You could be a restaurant critic; write a food column; start a slow-cooker website; give cooking classes; or open a gourmet food store!)
When you’ve completed this exercise, you should have 100 business possibilities. Now it’s time to sort through your list. Eliminate any ideas that just don’t appeal to you, ones that might require more startup funds than you can afford or that seem otherwise unrealistic. Then take a good, hard look at the remaining ideas. At this point you may find the seedling of your ideal business opportunity!
Here’s another short exercise that may help you discover your business goals. Ask yourself the following questions:
What do I like to do in my spare time?
What do I like to read?
What am I good at?
What do others say I’m good at?
Take your time responding to these questions because the answers may hold important messages for you. Most of us possess talents for which we don’t give ourselves credit.
Once you have a handle on the type of business you’d like to start, you’ll have other important considerations, such as: writing a business plan, assessing the amount of startup capital you need, finding a good banker and knowing how to negotiate a business loan and hiring a reliable accountant. And then, deciding whether you perfer working alone or with a partner.
There are limitless references available at your local library and on the Internet to
help you get started (some suggested resources are listed below). The Small Business Administration is an especially good resource for the beginning business people.
Your enthusiasm will become contagious, and you will find that customers will be drawn to your obvious excitement. Next they’ll recommend you to their friends. The more services or goods you provide, the more fun you’ll have. And the more fun you have, the more money will find its way to your door.
For more information:
http://www.sba.gov/small business planner
U.S Small Business Administration: Programs and services to help you start, grow and succeed.
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
Free online and face-to-face business counseling, mentoring, and training.
Strauss, Steven D. The Business Start-Up Kit Kaplan Business, 2002
Harper, Stephen C. The McGraw-Hill Guide to Starting Your Own Business: A Step-by-Step Blueprint for the First-Time Entrepreneur McGraw-Hill, 2003
Norman, Jan. What No One Ever Tells You About Starting Your Own Business: Real-Life Start-Up Advice from 101 Successful Entrepreneurs Dearborn Trade, 1998
Louise owned a successful independent consulting business, presenting seminars on communication, self-awareness and business skills. She can be reached at Louise@OutLookbytheBay.com