Deciding On The Right Venture For You
One of the most common questions I hear, especially from new entrepreneurs, is “What is the best business to start?”
It’s sometimes phrased, “What is the best market to elbow my way into in 2020?” or “What’s the best e-commerce platform right now?” It can also go negatively, like “In these uncertain times, what business should I pursue … that won’t fail in a couple of months?”
If you stay in business long enough, you start to discern things from the questions people ask. Every question reveals something about the person who asks. In this case, people look for guarantees, and don’t want to start until they have them. They want a surefire way to win that will cost them nothing.
This question shows me they’re hungry to take advantage of the best opportunities. They’re new, enthusiastic, and eager to succeed.
But it also reveals they don’t understand that business implies taking risks … including the risk your business will fail. Some entrepreneurs want a shortcut to the top of the mountain; they have to overcome laziness.
With that in mind, I do have an answer to the question. Be advised, you may not like it.
Why This Is Actually The Wrong Question
The truth is there’s no “best” business to start. There’s no golden goose, guaranteed to make you rich. Initially, this sounds disappointing. It means you have to make a well-researched decision, take a risk and work hard. It means you could fail.
Even if there was a golden goose, a million other entrepreneurs would have picked it up by now and flooded the market. We’d have an abundance of golden eggs, white papers on how to quadruple your egg output, and courses on getting your golden goose business to 7 figures in three weeks.
And the “gold” would become cheap, just like any other commodity when it’s in plentiful supply. Beware of red oceans, filled with starving sharks.
If you look a little closer, this is fantastic news. It means you get to find a lucrative market that others don’t see yet. You can follow a passion into a niche that serves your customers and the world. You don’t have to be an “expert,” right out of the gate.
How To Decide On Which Business To Start
In determining the best business to start, I like to respond with a few questions of my own.
- Who is your ideal buyer?
This question helps you identify your market. Most entrepreneurs think it goes, “Idea first, market second.” But that’s a great way to fail; just because you have a great idea, doesn’t mean people will line up to buy it.
“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door!” speaks to the “idea first” philosophy of entrepreneurship. But it only works when there’s already a market for mousetraps. Nobody knows what happens if you build a better floppy disk, or underwater basket weaving gloves.
Always start with a group of buyers, and determine what they’re already buying. Why spend countless hours developing a new market for your idea, when proven markets already exist?
You should spend just as much time defining your market as you do developing your idea.
We live in a time where it is super-easy to do market research. Look at a few Google trends. Examine membership levels of Facebook groups. Go to a forum and look for the questions people ask, as well as problems they complain about. In less than an hour, you could gain a real sense of your ideal buyers and what they want.
- What can you consistently do well?
In other words, how can you uniquely serve the members of your market?
Merely following your passion will not work. Your passion may not meet current market needs. Or maybe your passion is relevant, but you don’t have the skills to consistently serve your ideal buyer.
You need a viable product you can sell and then build upon.
I don’t mean you should sell your soul, doing things you don’t enjoy forever. But you can’t chase down every whim, expecting to get somewhere. It’s much better to leverage a marketable skill you do well, and then use it to fund things you care about deeply.
- How can you demonstrate the value you bring?
After you know who you’re selling to, and what you can do for them, it’s time to launch. There are a million ways to do it, but you have to take action. Here’s a starter guide.
Determine your unique proposition. Build up your audience. Then, launch your product. Maybe you start a Facebook group or a Youtube channel surrounding your new product, then sell subscriptions to your website. At this point, your ability to consistently execute is key.
Keep in mind, the product doesn’t have to be perfect yet! Many entrepreneurs get stalled before launch, because they can’t let their product go until it’s flawless.
Zero mistakes is not your goal. Solving problems and delivering value for money is. Think in terms of viability, not perfection.
For more ideas on launches and how to demonstrate your value, check out the “What’s The Secret?” Podcast.
The answer to these three questions will help you far more than a pat answer about the best business to start. The best business to start is one where you can consistently add value to an ideal buyer. Thankfully, that framework can be applied to any number of business ideas.