Working out a business idea that’s right for you

Spending time

How much time are you willing to devote to your business? That may sound a basic enough question, but different businesses done in different ways can have quite different time profiles. One business starter I know started a French bakery in London. He was determined to make his own croissants and did so for the first three months. But making his own bread meant starting work at 4 a.m. Because he didn’t close until city workers passed his door on their way home, by the time he cleaned up and took stock, he was working a 15-hour day.

Furthering your education

You may have identified a market opportunity that requires skills over and above those that you currently have. There may, for example, be a gap in the market for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), but to do so requires a month of intensive study plus a £1,000 course fee. Doing the TEFL certificate may involve you in more skill upgrading than you want to commit to, at the outset at least. So either you need to find customers who don’t require you to have that qualification, or you need to think about a less educationally challenging business.

Keeping things interesting

If you want to start a restaurant and have never worked in catering, get a job in one. That’s the best way to find out whether you like a particular type of work. You may find that a restaurant looks very different from behind the chair as opposed to on it. Some businesses are inherently repetitive, with activities that follow a predictable pattern. If that suits you, fine, but if not then perhaps you need to consider a business venture with a shifting range of tasks.

Weighting your preferences

After you have an idea of some of the businesses you may want to start, you can rank those businesses according to how closely they match what you want from starting a business. Go through the standards you want your business to meet and assign a weight between 1 and 5 to each, on a range from not important at all to absolutely must have. Next, list your possible business opportunities and measure them against the graded criteria.

Finally Comment

The weighting factor and the rating point multiplied together give a score for each business idea. The highest score indicates the business that best meets Jane’s criteria. In this case, typing authors’ manuscripts scored over back-up typing, because Jane could do it exactly when it suited her.

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