By Nellie Akalp
You’ve decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurial life, but how do you know what type of business is right for you? What industry and business type appeal to you and would make the best use of your specific abilities and assets?
Starting a business is a thrilling journey and today more women are coming into their own as business owners than ever before. If you’ve decided to join the growing ranks of female business owners, here are six tips to help you choose the right business:
Let experience be your guide.
Not sure where to focus? Start with what you know. Maybe you spent 15 years running marketing programs for an accounting firm. Maybe you’re well known for creating the most inventive birthday parties for your children. Or maybe you’ve been giving family and friends fantastic homemade soaps for years. Consider your work experience and hobbies, and how you can parlay that into a successful business.
Follow your passion.
Your best option is to sell a service or make a product that you love. Of course, if you’re just trying to make some money in the short term, that’s okay. Start your business and move on. But if you’re looking to build a business for the long haul, you’ve got to choose a business that you love ¾ and one that you’ll still find fun 5 years from now.
I speak from experience. Shortly after law school, I launched a business with my husband. We provided online legal filing services to entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses. A few years later, we had the good fortune to sell this company to Intuit and pursue some other projects. But I soon found that these other ventures didn’t carry the same spark. I love helping other entrepreneurs. I love the concept of the small business. So, we decided to start all over again and launched a new document filing service.
Take the dinner-party test.
Okay. Imagine yourself at a cocktail party or dinner party and someone asks you the inevitable question “what do you do?” Think about how you’ll respond with each potential business option. Are you proud and excited to describe your business? Or a little embarrassed and looking to steer the conversation elsewhere? Playing out this scenario can help uncover your true feelings about a potential business idea.
Assess your funding situation.
One of the main reasons a startup fails is that it doesn’t have enough capital at the beginning. Be realistic about your financing and don’t try to extend yourself beyond your means. If you don’t have enough capital to realistically support your business for at least 6 months to a year, you should consider another business option.
Match your lifestyle.
Make sure your new business fits the kind of life you lead, or wish to lead. For example, can your business be managed from anywhere? How much travel or out-of-the-home client meetings are required? Will you be able to have enough personal time without jeopardizing your business?
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel … just do it better.
Many first-time entrepreneurs think they need to dream up a brand new business idea in order to be successful. However, this simply isn’t the way business works. Amazon was hardly the first company to sell books, and Starbucks wasn’t the first company to sell coffee. Instead of trying to come up with a brand new idea, take a look at your industry and see where there’s a void to be filled. In many cases, you can be wonderfully successful just by bringing great customer service to an established market.
Whatever business you choose to start, I encourage you to take some time to make an informed, intelligent decision. Then buckle your seat belt and get ready for an incredibly rewarding, non-stop whirlwind.
Here’s to YOUR business this year!
Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate and mother of four. As CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service, Nellie helps small business owners form an LLC or incorporate a business in order to start and protect their new business ventures the right way.