Choose a Passionate Business
by Rob Spiegel
How do you choose the right business to start? Trends and niches are important, but your own interests and likes are critical, too. Here's why.
How do you choose the right business to start? By following trends and trying to anticipate what consumers or business will want next? By looking for a hole in the market? These strategies may help you find a potential business concept, but would it be a business you would enjoy building 60 or 80 hours each week. Since most start-ups require a weekly commitment of big hours, you better find something you love to do.
There is a popular line to the effect, "Do what you love and the money will follow." Like most pithy statements, it gets tossed around as though it's a truth. It's very American, and it may even be true if you are convinced it's true. Outside the U.S., the statement would be viewed as laughably ludicrous. There is a more European version, "Whatever do you, love it."
If there is any truth to our exuberantly American statement, it's that when you love what you do, there is a greater chance you will do your work with great enthusiasm, thus increasing your likelihood for success. Launching an enterprise requires intense effort. At the same time you're putting in long hours, you are also learning new tasks, whether it's marketing or hiring and employee management. One entrepreneurial friend noted that to succeed with your own business, you need to get very good a lot of different jobs. Just try this if you don't have a passion for you're work.
Most successful entrepreneurs love what they do. They jump into their work and they encourage those around them to bring zeal to the effort. They are like crusaders who are out to convince the world that it will be a better place with their product or service. Enthusiasm is contagious. Entrepreneurs need great amounts of enthusiasm to generate loyalty from their employees and to spark interest and foster confidence from their customers.
As well as sustaining a high level of energy, drive optimism, the entrepreneur has to become an expert in the subject matter of the business niche, whether it's fishing vacations or aluminum. Most successful entrepreneurs exhibit a very deep knowledge of their market. They know the history, the early players. They know the conventional thinking in the market and they're aware of the new ideas struggling to gain attention. A good entrepreneur keeps all of this in perspective and has a good sense of what new trends will gain hold and which will sputter as the sidelines.
These insights are critical when your resources are limited. Usually the only reason a new company succeeds is because the owner is able to perceive a need in the market that has previously gone unfilled. That can include a higher quality version of an existing product or service, a less expensive version, or a whole new approach to solving an age-old problem. Or perhaps the entrepreneur is doing nothing more than making it easier for his customers to buy the same things they've always bought. Whatever it is, the entrepreneur spied something that others didn't see, then acted on it.
Gaining an insight that can be converted into a new business requires a deep understanding of what customers need. Turning this insight into al company takes sustained concentration and the ability to learn quickly. In order to create a business, this initial insight has to be honed and adapted quickly to meet the actual needs of the customers. What started as a good idea has to be developed in accordance to how and when people buy. What begins as an idea to sell chocolates becomes the business of selling gift packages.
The demands of developing a new idea, refining that idea into a product, discovering a market for the product and communicating to that market are easier if the entrepreneur is a devoted fan of the product. You can't easily switch from selling auto parts to selling fishing gear simply because you perceived a need in the market. You switch from selling parts to selling fishing gear because you love fishing, you know a great deal about fishing, and you love to be around people who fish.
George Bernard Shaw said that life was "Just one damned thing after another." That's the life of an entrepreneur. If you love your niche and love interacting with vendors and customers, coping with one damned-thing-after-another is exhilarating, not exhausting. If you love with you business, the effort to learn and grow will be pleasure, not pain.