How do I choose between different business ideas?

how to choose between different business ideas

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at what to do if you have no idea what business to start and how to start a business using your existing skills. But what if you’re full of ideas? What if you’ve never been able to settle on The One Passion, you’ve got lots of different interests and skills and you just can’t decide which business to start? How on earth do you choose between different business ideas?

1. Define success

Surprise! Step one for when you have lots of ideas is the same as when you have none. The very first step has to be to get clear on what you want from your business, and how that fits into the bigger picture of your life goals. Different ideas and business models can have very different implications for what your day looks like, the level of freedom and flexibility you’ll have, and the income you’ll be able to generate.

What are the criteria, the parameters, that a business needs to fulfil for it to work for you?

  • Do you want to be location independent, so that you can work from home (or wherever you want)?
  • Do you want flexible hours, a more ‘passive’ income stream rather than trading your time directly for money?
  • Do you want to be working with big corporations, small businesses, or individuals?
  • Do you want to be working on your computer by yourselfor out and about, interacting with people?
  • Do you want to work in an intimate one-on-one or small group setting, or do you see yourself working ‘one to many’?

…and so on. Try to get super clear on all the ‘non-negotiables’ and other important criteria that would bring you meaningful success with this business, and to make it work for your personal situation and priorities.

2. Use a decision matrix

Once you have your criteria from the first step, above, you can check your ideas against those criteria. So, for example, if you definitely want to be location independent, have more of a passive income and work with individuals, then a business that requires you to work face to face with local businesses is probably not going to be the best fit. Filtering your ideas through your criteria should help you get some more objective perspective on which of the ideas is going to work best for you.

However, you may still end up with several ideas, all of which seem to fit your personal and professional criteria – what then? Well, I’m a big believer in the power of a ‘portfolio career’ that incorporates different projects as a great way for multi-passionate people to bring to life different ideas and use different skills and interests. However, although I absolutely think you can do more than one thing, I don’t think you can do more than one thing at the same time.

To help you prioritise between different projects, you might want to try using a decision matrix.

business-idea-decision-matrix

  1. High impact & low effort = quick win – This is a dream! If you have ideas that are easy to implement and will bring you massive reward, whether financial or another type of advantage, then these are the quick wins that you can get to work on right away.
  2. High impact & high effort = requires planning – These are your long-term business ideas that will take time to implement. You may need to invest in building a brand and an online presence, for example, which is valuable but won’t have an instant effect.
  3. Low impact & low effort = low-hanging fruit – It may not have a massive impact but if it’s quick and easy then you might as well do it. Little things like these can add up over time and can at least kick things off when you’re just starting out.
  4. Low impact & high effort = time waster – Forget about this one! Putting lots of time and energy into something that’s going to bring little reward will only take up valuable time that you could be spending on more productive work.

3. Validate your ideas

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a new entrepreneur is to come up with an idea that you think is absolutely amazing – it’s the next Uber/Airbnb! – and spend lots of time and money on it without first validating it.

The risk here is that you create something that no one wants. On top, you may think your idea is revolutionary and bound to take off as a huge success, but you really don’t know that until it’s proven in the market. Just look at Dragon’s Den (or Shark Tank in the US): the millionaire investors will always favour the businesses that already have documented sales over an idea that may sound appealing but hasn’t yet been tested.

So how can you validate your idea?

  • Talk to your potential clients and customers – The easiest way to test your idea beyond your own brainstorming bubble is to talk to potential customers and clients. There is a caveat here, however. Did you ever hear that famous quote from Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”? Apparently he never actually said it, but the message is just as valid: people often don’t know what they want. So you’re trying to find out if this need that you’ve identified really is a need, and if your target audience is willing to pay to address it.
  • Ask the experts – Ideally, you’re looking at ideas that sit within your area of expertise, so that you have the skills and experience to know that it’s a strong idea and how best to implement it. Sometimes, though, you may come up with a fantastic idea in an area that you’re not so familiar with. A bit of naïve optimism may help to dream big and potentially disrupt an industry, but it helps to know the rules of the game. Talk to experts who can tell you the challenges they’re facing, what are the restrictions and limitations, and how feasible is the solution that you’re proposing. This can save you from working for months on an idea that will never work in practice.
  • Test it in the real world – That warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when everyone you ask says, “Wow, that’s a great idea!” is all very well, but the real test comes when you actually come to sell it. Once you feel you have a strong idea, get it live as soon as you can. Push out your solution, even if it’s not 100% there, and get some potential customers to pilot it. They can give you real user feedback that will allow you to optimise the solution as you go, and they can also give you testimonials and referrals to help you as you start to advertise and grow the business. You’re never going to be able to choose “the best idea” based purely on the theory, so create something real and then see what happens.

If you think you’re onto a winner, you may also want to check out How to get your business idea off the ground.

For inspiration along with practical guidance as to the opportunities to create a business outside of your corporate 9 to 5, check out my book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5: Stories from people who’ve done it (and how you can too). Read more at leavingthecorporate9to5.com or find it on your local Amazon store.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You might also be interested in these articles

“Everything you’ve ever
wanted is one step outside
your comfort zone.”

Book a free consultation

If you’re feeling a bit stuck and not sure how to move forward, let’s get on the phone to explore how we can work together to help you achieve your goals, and which option is the best fit for you.

Get a free assessment of your business

Download this scorecard to review where you are on each of the 5 pillars of building a life outside of the 9 to 5, and get clear action steps to help you fill the gaps.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Get a free assessment of your business

Download this scorecard to review where you are on each of the 5 pillars of building a life outside of the 9 to 5, and get clear action steps to help you fill the gaps.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Outside of the 9 to 5

Anna continues the journey in her new book, where she details what’s needed to sustain your initial escape from the 9 to 5 in a guide to designing and building a profitable business that gives you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how One Step Outside uses and protects any information that you give One Step Outside when you use this website (https://onestepoutside.com/).

One Step Outside is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

One Step Outside may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.

What information we collect and why

We only ever collect the information that we need in order to serve you.

Generally, this just means collecting your first name and email address that you enter, for example, when you request a resource, register for a webinar, or submit a message via a contact form.

If you are a paying customer, we also collect your billing information including your last name and your postal address.

Comments

When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymised string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: https://automattic.com/privacy/. After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

Contact forms

We use Gravity Forms to allow you to contact us via the website. We will use the information you submit for the sole purpose of that specific form and will explicitly ask you to provide your consent to allow us to do so.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Advertising and Analytics

Google

We use Google Analytics to track and optimise performance on this site as well as embedding video content from YouTube, and this means that your web browser automatically sends certain information to Google. This includes the URL of the page that you’re visiting and your IP address. Google may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.

Google uses the information shared by sites and apps to deliver our services, maintain and improve them, develop new services, measure the effectiveness of advertising, protect against fraud and abuse and personalise content and ads that you see on Google and on our partners’ sites and apps. See their Privacy Policy to learn more about how they process data for each of these purposes, and their Advertising page for more about Google ads, how your information is used in the context of advertising and how long Google stores this information.

Facebook

We use the conversion tracking and custom audiences via the Facebook pixel on our website. This allows user behaviour to be tracked after they have been redirected to our website by clicking on a Facebook ad and enables us to measure the effectiveness of our Facebook ads. The data collected in this way is anonymous to us, i.e. we do not see the personal data of individual users. However, this data is stored and processed by Facebook, who may link this information to your Facebook account and also use it for its own promotional purposes, in accordance with Facebook’s Data Usage Policy https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/.

You can allow Facebook and its partners to place ads on and off Facebook. A cookie may also be stored on your computer for these purposes. You can revoke your permission directly on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/?entry_product=ad_settings_screen. For more guidance on opting out you can also consult http://www.aboutads.info/choices.

Who we share your data with

We use a number of third parties to provide us with services which are necessary to run our business or to assist us with running our business and who process your information for us on our behalf. These include a hosting and email provider (Siteground), mailing list provider (GetResponse), and a payment provider (Stripe).

Your information will be shared with these service providers only where necessary to enable us to run our business.

How long we maintain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognise and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on our website, we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

The main reason for collecting this information is to be able to send you resources, updates and, sometimes, information and products and services, as well as for internal record keeping.

The rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

How we protect your data

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure.

Where we have given you (or where you have chosen) a password that lets you access certain parts of our site, you are responsible for keeping this password confidential and we ask you not to share a password with anyone.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Links to other websites

Our website contains links to other websites. This privacy policy only applies to this website so once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Changes to our privacy policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review. Initially created on 18th November 2016, it was last updated on 23rd May 2018 to be compliant with GDPR.

Contact information

If you have any questions or concerns related to your privacy, you can get in touch here >>