How to pick a killer business idea that you love

Are you interested in starting a business but not quite sure which one to start? I was in the same boat. I was stuck between what I actually wanted to do and what I thought I should be doing to make money.I’ll share how to pick a great business that fits your needs for both.

business ideas

Start a business idea list

Not everyone has their “aha!” moment where everything clicks and they find the business they want to start. Sometimes you have to do some digging. I’ll share a method that not only will help you decide on a successful business, but one that you enjoy. At the end, I’ll also share my favorite side business that most people will enjoy doing while making good money.

business idea list laptop

To start, you’re going to need a big list of business ideas. You can check my Big List of Business Ideas to get you started. Start up a word document and jot down any that sound interesting. You can also brainstorm your own. This is a free association exercise. Don’t knock anything out because it seems stupid. If it comes to mind, put it down. We’ll sort out the rest later. I’d go till you have at least 15-20 ideas. 40 or more would be great.

Now to the sorting

Eliminating ideas is the hard part, especially if you like several. Since this is a delicate area. Go ahead and copy your list to a second-word document. It will keep you more open to elimination if you know there is a backup of all your original ideas. The first round of eliminations should be the easiest since it’s based on what you care about.

Elimination step 1: Passion

The first thing a successful business should have is something you are passionate about. Don’t worry how realistic an idea is or if you think you can make money off it. We’ll get to that. Also, don’t keep a business on the list just because you’ve heard it’s a good one to make money. That’s a mistake I made in the past starting businesses, and it leads to a mediocre company.

find your passion

There is going to be a lot of work ahead. You want a business that you find engaging to keep you going. Your first elimination round is getting rid of business ideas that you have no interest in. No passion whatsoever. There is one caveat to keep in mind though!

Here’s the fun part about passion, it only needs to apply for a portion of the business you pick. You can outsource the rest once you have cash flow.
Let’s take a passion of mine for example: sales. Then let’s use something I don’t enjoy: cleaning. If I combine the two, I could have a successful cleaning business. I would have someone else do the cleaning, while I cover the sales and admin side of things.

I’ve seen this play out before to great effect. One guy went from nothing to having a cleaning business in just two weeks. He hired hourly workers through craigslist. Then he used craigslist and advertising to get clients. He didn’t touch a vacuum the whole time. He was good at getting clients and finding and organizing hourly subcontractors. That was enough to make a legitimate business in a short amount of time.

Action item: go ahead and eliminate those business ideas that you have no element of passion about.

There is more than passion needed to start a successful business that you love. You also need something that you’re capable of doing well.
Something you’re good at.
On to phase 2.

Elimination step 2: Skill and experience

The second thing an excellent business choice would have is an area you are skilled or experienced in.

skills experience

I’m an idea guy. I love thinking about ideas and new ways of doing business. Unfortunately, an idea without proper execution is worth exactly $0. A mediocre idea executed to a high degree is worth far more than the best idea in the world that is executed poorly, or not at all. That’s why it’s important to find a business that can take advantage of your existing skills.

Both natural skill and experience are paramount to creating a successful business. Luckily, much like the passion side of things, you don’t need to do everything. If you’re good at a particular aspect of a business, you can still get a partner or employee to supplement your weaknesses.

Mark Cuban used his experience and knowledge gained from computer software sales to launch his own business. He combined his knowledge/skill in the industry with his passion for sales. That was his big break that started his success of serial entrepreneurship. It also contained one more crucial ingredient that I’ll cover next. Then I’ll reveal my favorite business to start for those who still aren’t sure what they want to do yet.

Action item. Go ahead and eliminate those business ideas that you have no skills or experience in.

Now that you have a smaller list to choose from, it’s time for the most crucial step.

Elimination step 3: Customers

The most important part of a business is simple, so I’ll keep it short. It doesn’t matter if you’re the absolute best in the world at something and you love it more than anything. You still need one thing: Someone who wants to buy it!

customer buying item

Sometimes the public needs education before they see the value of a product, but that can be a hard sell. I would say this is the number one killer of businesses that otherwise have their ducks in a row. It’s tied with not standing out in an overly competitive market. You can’t make it if no-one needs or wants what you are offering.

Go watch shark tank to see some examples. Sometimes you’ll see someone with a product or business that they are clearly passionate about and they are even good at doing it. They’ve been doing it for 10 years, however, and no one is interested. They somehow think an infusion of cash and the help of a partner will change that. It can’t.

Action item: Go ahead and eliminate any business ideas that you don’t really see others buying, even if you love it. If you aren’t sure, try to do a market study or sales test before it exists. You should know in a week or two if anyone is interested.

With that in mind, I hope you have a much smaller list to choose from! Ideally, there is one that calls out to you. Maybe it’s one you’ve been thinking about for years, but you just needed to give yourself permission to do it. If that’s the case and it meets these three criteria, just do it!

doors making a decision

If nothing still calls out, you may just need to pick one and go for it. It’s not going to be easy. You must resolve to pay the price of time and effort required or don’t start at all. There will never be the “right time” to start and if you may never feel like it. You just have to start! Momentum is huge.

Action item: Check out my Review of the book $100 startup if you’re struggling with reasons or excuses of why you can’t start it yet. It cuts through the excuses and makes it very simple what steps you need to take.

$100 startup chris guillebeau

Before you go (hopefully to start your business!) let me share with you the side business idea think is perfect for the undecided entrepreneur.

Blogging as a side business

Blogging is my favorite side business to get started because it meets my 3 criteria for a successful side business that anyone can start in their spare time.

  1. It can be started in your spare time while working a full-time job
  2. It has a low startup cost
  3. It has the potential for growth, so it’s not a forever one-person show
    For me, Blogging met all three of those, as well as the 3 criteria we were looking for above.

The reason it’s so versatile is you can blog about nearly anything. If there are other people in the world interested in the same things as you. It’ also the only realistic way to make money from an interest that would otherwise be hard to monetize. Your product is your writing, if someone wants to read it, there is a way to make a living doing it.

blogging as a business

Applying your passions and skills in blogging

I have business-related skills, but my passions don’t always match my skills. It was hard for me to settle long term on a business. Now I only keep up the side businesses that I both enjoy and am good at, and blogging is one of those! Life is too short to do things you don’t enjoy for a living.
Out of everything I’ve done in my life, helping people is my passion.

Business is something that’s always intereste me and I have skills there from starting my own. Now I’ve combined them in a way that I can provide value for others. I do both consulting and blogging to help fill those areas for me, and I couldn’t be happier!

Benefits of bloggging

It’s also given me a flexible lifestyle when it comes to money and time that other businesses can’t compete with. I’m able to travel when i want and take time off when I want. Like most things in life, you get out what you put in. With blogging I get to choose when and how much to put in! I always work a little every day, even on long vacations because I enjoy it.

freedom and relaxing

The funny thing is, I hate writing, or at least I used to think I did. I dreaded English classes in college and high school. One day I had an epiphany. I spent more time writing in online forums than I did putting work into actual important papers!

I had the realization that If I spend hours doing that for free, I should find a way to turn it into a business. The most important thing about business and the number one rule is to provide value first. It should never be a simple cash grab, if that’s all you’re there for people will see right through you. It won’t last

With blogging, your experience and writing are the value you provide. It needs to be something that people want or need to read. You don’t need to be an expert! Passion is enough to start and you’ll gain skills and experience along the way. As usual, the most crucial step is starting. It’s easier to steer a ship in motion.

Action item: If that sounds like something exciting to you check out How to Start a Blog in 20 minutes. If you want to learn more about the benefits it can provide, see Benefits of blogging for a full time income.


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