Congratulations! You have brainstormed your potential business ideas and now you have a page full of possible business focuses. These ideas come from all across your life experiences, including hobbies you could turn into saleable items, talks and books you could produce on your unusual or everyday experiences, and resources you would like to have had yourself in different situations, which you think others might appreciate.
Now you have all these great potential moneymaking ideas, what next? Much as you might want to, you can’t do everything. Why not? Because:
- You will inevitably be more interested in some things than others, so if you try to do everything, some ideas will fall by the roadside and you will have wasted time, energy and resources on dead ends.
- If you try to diversify too much, especially at first, you will lose your audience. They will be confused about who you are, what you stand for and what you can do for them.
Number two above is especially important to note. Many people when starting out as business owners think that the best way to make as much money as possible is to offer everything to everyone.
However, it is just about impossible to do this in today’s world. People don’t want to be sold to, they want to buy – they want to be the action takers. So when they decide to buy something they will look for that specific thing in logical places. They will have the choice between a great many different sellers and they will look for the best value and the best quality. If they see a person offering a million different things, they are going to think, oh well, they obviously don’t spend much time on anything, so how good can any of their products be? They are obviously not experts in any one thing. I want the best.
You are far better off choosing a niche which caters to a small but dedicated group of buyers. It seems illogical to reduce your audience size, but don’t think of it that way. Instead, think of the difference between a person who stands on a busy street corner singing mediocre opera and wonders why hardly anyone puts money in your hat, and a person who, after hard work and study, performs at a venue in front of opera fans and receives applause, higher amounts of money, and further opportunities to sing and make more money.
If you focus on a specific group, you can make your product suit them perfectly. Instead of women, focus on businesswomen. Or women over 55. Or businesswomen over 55. Or businesswomen over 55 with two or more teenage children. That audience has specific needs which, if you can meet them, will turn them into a loyal, return customer base.
Start small, start specific and build a loyal following, people who will return to your store (in whatever form it takes) again and again. That is the long game, and how you will find real success in your business.
Once you have your loyal customer base, you can then investigate:
- What else they might want and
- Who else might like your products if you tweaked them a little bit.
Let’s look at both of these, because this is where your business can really take off.
What else might they want?
Are you providing inspirational books and CDs for businesswomen at the top of their careers? What else might women like this want? As women get older, they need to watch their health more carefully. You might consider a line of health and wellness products: books, journals, planners, mugs and accessories with inspirational quotes on them, seminars or webinars about mindfulness or building mindsets for achieving goals. Money management and preparation for retirement products might also work for this audience. Your only limitation is your imagination.
Who else might like your products if you tweaked them?
Who else needs inspiration and motivation? How about younger women, just starting their careers? Perhaps you could tweak your products for the older male market instead. Students might appreciate a bit of inspiration. Once again, your opportunities for growth are many, you just have to decide what will fit best with your own focus and energy.
Although I have used inspiration products as an example, you could use the same principles with food, beauty, gardening, how-to, technology or any other kind of product or service.
Go back to your list of ideas.
Circle all the ones that you believe you can easily maintain enthusiasm for, for years to come. Then ask your friends and family to do the same thing. You may be surprised at what items they circle and what they reject. Sometimes our loved ones can see us more clearly than we can see ourselves, so pay attention and seriously consider their advice.
Narrow your ideas down to two or three related ideas and build your business plan around them. If there are others you feel passionately about, do not discard them. But choose a focus and put anything else into the long-term box, for later consideration.
Now you have a focus and a direction to take your business in. Time to start brainstorming specific strategies and plans. Good luck!
This is the third article in the “Start Up Business Basics” series by Emily M Morgan. You can read the previous two articles: Make the Decision and Identifying Your Value. Look out for the 4th installment next month “Solve Problems Before They Occur”.