Want to be an entrepreneur? Do you have all that it takes, except… an idea? Fret not: starting a business might be easier than you think.
A lot of us have an entrepreneur hidden deeply within us. Traces of it lurk out every now and then, when we read about pioneering start-ups introducing groundbreaking products or services through the use of innovation or technology. As we learn about their adventurous quests to solve a need or disrupt a market, we quietly think to ourselves: “Gosh, I wish that could be me”.
Yet, a lot of us keep our entrepreneurial selves in check and refrain from doing anything about it. And not without its merits: launching a business can be intimidating, overwhelming and let’s not even get started on the financial aspect of it…
Meanwhile, one of the biggest obstacles for most aspiring entrepreneurs (or, ‘wantrepreneurs’) is the lack of an idea—that one stroke of innovative genius, which will set us off on a path of passion-packed entrepreneurship.
We do that because of the heavily skewed image of entrepreneurship that the media has curated for us; it’s innovative, it’s disruptive, it’s eccentric—it’s Elon Musk.
Here’s the thing though: there is only room for a limited number of Elon Musks in this world. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you do not have to be the new Elon Musk to make it as a successful entrepreneur. So, if you are ready to throw in the flamethrower, but not the towel, here are some ideas to get you started on your path to entrepreneurship.
First and foremost, keep it simple. While the Teslas of the world might dominate the headlines, the truth is that they represent only a fraction of the start-up ventures out there. The vast majority of businesses are within mature sectors that have existed for decades, even centuries. It’s the local bakery, the hair salon, the local logistics company.
These types of businesses might not be particularly sexy, but they are easy to understand and their markets are already established. In other words, you do not need to spend time and energy educating the market about bread and subsequently create a demand for it.
Secondly, think small—or rather, think local. It is easier to be a big fish in a small pond than it is being a small fish in the sea. You do not need to launch a global empire to be an entrepreneur. Have a look around your immediate environment and see where there might be a gap in the market that you can help fill.
Speak to stakeholders and influencers in the local community and ask them, what needs and trends they might have identified. Not only will this validate your business case, it will also enable you to gain valuable insights and tap into their network once you launch your business; people like to be a part of something and by seeking out their advice you have indirectly made them your accomplices in your new business venture.
Once you have established a potential gap in the market, it is time to do some research. A simple online search or a look through the local business directory will get you a long way in terms of mapping out the market and, equally important, the competitive landscape.
In addition, Google Trends enables you to assess whether keywords associated with your business are gaining traction. Say you are looking to open a plumbing business in Scottsdale. Search for “Plumber Scottsdale” and analyze the popularity of this term at present and over time.
Look into local grant funding available. Often the initiatives that get priority serve as an indication of which markets are currently perceived as underserved—at least from the perspective of your local government. Moreover, if you do decide to proceed with a business idea that falls under the grant mandate, you may even be eligible for some start-up funding with no loss of equity.
At the end of the day, the heavily romanticized start-ups we hear about are often fueled by passion and love, which cannot be fast-tracked through extensive brainstorming. However, that does not imply that you do not have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, it simply means that you might have to take a more pragmatic approach.
This approach might not get you on the front page of Forbes or finance that Bugatti you have always dreamed about. Meanwhile, it can serve as a vehicle for financial independence and the ability to – eventually – manage your own time