“What kind of business should I choose?”
“Choosing the right business idea?”
“How to find the right business?”
“How to decide what kind of business to start?”
“Simple steps to choose the right business.”
“How to choose the right business.”
“Places to get ideas for starting your next business.”
“Can’t decide what business to start.”
‘Choosing a business to start.”
I’ve used all of these questions in Google searches. I just wanted some direction and insight into small business ownership. Like you, I was scared of failure. I wanted so badly to live my life on my own terms. I knew entrepreneurship was my vehicle. A business meant autonomy to care for my family on my terms. It meant I could make important decisions about my life, without having to ask others for space to executive them. Small business ownership also meant I could set my own financial cap. No more hoping and praying to be advanced or recognized for my hard work. I could do that for myself in my own organization.
In my business search, my frustration was derived from shallow answers given to me by others I’ve turned to for advice. I was further frustrated by articles heavily suggesting that I should create a business on the numbers only. I knew that advice would lead to unhappiness and failure for me. So instead I followed the path of my passion…. Or at least what I thought my passion was. As a result, I opened Butter Angels Handcrafted Skin Care, which was transformed from a hobby to a business. After two and a half years, I decided to close it. I was making steady revenue, but I was unhappy and unfulfilled. In my journey, I learned that if I identified the below factors before I started my first business, I could have saved a heap of change and time.
Identifying the below seven keys factors will help you discover what business you really want to develop and which you want to ignore.
- Identify your core values.
- Create a life design.
- Identify your target audience.
- Choose your flagship product and service.
- Discover your bar to entry.
- Decide if you want to serve your audience virtually, from a brick and mortar, or both.
- Evaluate the pros and cons of going forward with your business concept.
Your core values are principles that guide your internal conduct as well as your relationships with the external world. It is how you judge what is right and what is wrong. All of your decision, subconscious or conscious are weighed against your core values. Whether you listen to them is another subject.
When your core values are violated you become defensive, upset, annoyed or unsettled. When your core values are honored, you are more at peace, happier, and confident. Identify your core values first, then you will be able to make decisions with more clarity and confidence.
Over a year and a half of doing business, spending thousands of dollars on inventory, marketing, vendor fees, and more….. it dawned on me that my business violated some of my values. It was a good business, but I was SO unhappy. I resented making hundreds of units of products late at night. Vendors showed annoyed me to no end.
It violated my core value of flexibility. There was rigidity in the routine of creating my skin care and running a cosmetics e-commerce business that I didn’t appreciate at all. cGMP with its batch records and record keeping doubled the length of time it took to make simple products.
Ideally, we want our businesses to accommodate our lives. But if you don’t know what you want your life to be, how is your business supposed to accommodate it. Get to know the details of your future life. Allow yourself to dream and really open up. Be honest with yourself. Be detailed. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself running a business that fits the habits you’ve learned while working a job. How fun is that?
Another big step I failed to take until well after creating my business, was designing my future life. I wanted my business to shape my life. However, I failed to plan it. I did not take the time to write down what my future life would look or feel like BEFORE I started my business. I just knew I wanted complete autonomy.
As I learned, complete autonomy needs to be written, planned, and manifested. You can’t manifest a thing without knowing the details. I needed to get clear on the Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why of it all. This didn’t happen until after I started my business.
I asked the following questions of myself.
Who am I?
Who will be with me?
Who will I serve?
Where will I be?
Where do I want to travel?
Where do I want to live?
What will I be doing?
What will I provide to those I serve?
What will my family do?
What will my family have?
What will we enjoy?
How much money will I make?
How much time will I spend with my family?
How much comfort will experience?
How much will I serve my soul mate clients?
When will all of this take place?
Why is my business important to me?
Why should I take this step?
Why should my family be supportive?
Your target audience is the one person you will speak to in your marketing. It is the one person you will serve. You’ll need to know her demographics, likes and dislikes, preferences and mood. The more you know about the one person you choose to serve, the easier it is to create copy, products, services, and offerings that will resonate deeply with their beliefs and needs. Once your target audience knows, loves, and trusts you, they will choose you over any other less expensive and flashy offer any day. You will have their loyalty.
Start speaking to your target audience early. Even if you don’t have a product or service yet. You want your audience to eagerly await your voice, advice, and offerings. Talk to them about what is important to them.
So I made a common mistake when I first started. I had no idea what I was going to serve. Not only that, I thought if I pursued the super wealthy, the money would come flowing in. The problem was, I had no idea what the super wealthy wanted, how they lived, what they needed, how they shopped or what was important to them.
When that audience didn’t work, I tried to speak to everyone. Why not right? Who wants to leave money on the table. Well, by doing so, those who were trying to follow me didn’t know what or who I was talking too.
After much time and encouragement from my mentors, I began niche marketing. Now, let me make myself clear. It wasn’t good niche marketing. I didn’t want to talk about skin care and the wonders of it. I wanted to motivate and inspired black women veterans. Each article or social media post I created, skipped over skincare and right into black women veteran empowerment.
The great part about my finally making a decision on my target audience was I finally gained focus. With that focus, a wider and more diverse audience paid attention. I started to sell more skin care products. Could I have sold more if I focused my message on skin care, YEP! But the important part is I learned who my target audience was and I haven’t left her side yet.
Flagship products and services are your main offering or signature offer. Done right, flagship products and services can help you establish you and your business as specialists and not generalist. Remember specialist are brain surgeons. Brain surgeons have fewer patients, but they are paid very well and much better than a generalist. Generalists are your primary care physicians. They service a broader patient list, but are generally paid less and have to work harder. You want to be a specialist.
A great piece of advice I received from a mentor focused on only offering 2 or 3 products that used the same ingredients. This helped saved cost and keep customers focused on a small selection of offers.
She then advised that I should only offer a broader selection when the majority of my target audience calls for it, no sooner. This made life much easier. My supplier list, inventory, and offerings where simpler and easier to maintain when I didn’t have 10 widely ranging offerings. For that, I was very grateful for her sage advice.
Bar To Entry
Bar to entry basically describes the minimum requirements to establish your business. What are the time and financial investment necessary for success? What are the regulatory requirements to be legal? For instance, operate as a successful attorney in your own law firm, you need to pass the bar exam and be licensed in the state in which you operate. To pass the bar, you’ll need your bachelors and masters degrees specifically focused on law.
I think if I knew of all that a legitimate skin care business involved I would have thought twice about it. I was willing to get certificates to attest to the purity of my products. I learned and followed the guidelines set out by the FDA, USDA, and other regulatory agencies. What I was not open to doing was going to school to get certified as a cosmetics maker. That should have been a big clue to me about my commitment to my business. The Soldier in me firmly believes in education.
As a retiree, every step of my career was outlined by training for almost everything. Training for equipment, advancement, technical skills and more. The training was a vital part of my development. So why on earth did I think the training wasn’t necessary to be the best maker I could be?
The other thing I didn’t think about, was the time and financial investment my business needed to thrive. It costed way more than what I expected. Most of my evenings, all of my weekends, and sometimes even spare moments at work were needed to keep my business going. There was little time for family or joy. I invested a steady stream of personal income to keep the doors open. Yes, I made regular revenue, but it wasn’t enough for the business to sustain on its own.
Had I considered this before I started Butter Angels, I may have paused and planned better or just not do the business at all.
E-Commerce, Brick and Mortar, or Both
At some point, you’ll need to decide how and where you’ll offer and deliver your products and services. You need to also consider your personality, mental health, and physical needs. Make sure that you are able to deliver your offering to your audience in a way that will not mentally or physically hurt you. Small business ownership is a huge stressor. You’ll need to keep yourself healthy and strong if you are going to be successful. Of course, you want to keep your target audience in mind. But remember, if you are having a problem delivering your offering, your business will not be sustainable. Your customers will go elsewhere.
Evaluating Pros and Cons
Once you decide on a business idea, you’ll need to evaluate the pros and cons. This helps you look at your idea from a broader view and recognize obstacles and rewards that weren’t identified from a narrower view.