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Starting a Business

Get Inspired:
How to Come up With a Winning Small Business Idea.


Many people dream of starting a business, being their own boss, having total control over their schedules and calling the shots. There is a perception that there will be less stress and more fulfilling work. While all this may be true, there are certain risks involved with starting a small business and experts like Jeff Zindel, owner of The Small Business Group, advise spending substantial time in the “idea” phase of starting a small business and uncovering every possible risk factor before moving forward. According to Zindel, “You have to be a risk taker… and make sure you are getting into it for all the right reasons. You have to be happy doing it, win or lose.”


Here are several strategies for devising a winning small business idea:


Pursue your passions.

What gets your heart racing? If you need to write to be happy, why not make a living doing just that? If you spend large portions of your spare time designing websites for fun, then perhaps you have a marketable resource. If you spend a lot of money eating key lime pies – like 42-year-old Kenny Burts of Smyrna, Georgia – then why not learn to make them yourself? “You have to do your homework and think with your brain, as well as your heart,” Burns advises. By following this principle, Burns’ small business, Key Lime Inc., went from churning out 100 pies a week to 1,500.


Find a business you can afford.

If your passion is pottery, it may not be feasible for you to buy the kilns, materials and equipment needed to launch your business on a larger scale. You can start a business with $1 million or you can start a business with $10,000, depending on the industry. According to Forbes Magazine, there are many businesses you can start for less than $10K – translator, private investigator, doula, home inspector, pet groomer, real estate agency, or online marketer, to name a few.    


Solve a problem.

Some businesses are born out of necessity and, as they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions. What problems do you face in your everyday life? Maybe you are really strapped to find an affordable computer repair person in your area. Maybe you moved from Buffalo, New York to Chicago, Illinois and you can’t find an honest, authentic “Buffalo Chicken Wing” anywhere. Sure, there’s the Buffalo Wild Wings chain, but you know you can do better. 


Look for hot, enduring trends.

Caribou Coffee knew a good thing when they saw the success of Starbucks. Their gourmet business made tons of money off the Starbucks business model, but they chose to remain local and promote that angle. Other hot businesses include niches like online video rentals like Netflix, home gardening products, fitness gadgets, and pets.  


Keep your eyes and ears open.

Yale student Sean Glass founded his company, Higher One, while he was waiting in line at the university bookstore and noticed that students preferred to buy the books using their student ID cards. That got him to thinking, “What if students could use their ID cards to buy from the local pizzeria… coffee shop… or other nearby stores off-campus?” His company gave universities nationwide the ability to electronically issue refunds for financial aid into a student checking account. Back in 2006, they were grossing more than $18 million.


The old adage “Look before you leap” has never been more prudent than when brainstorming ideas for a small business. Take your time and share your ideas with others. Let your heart guide you, but don’t ignore the practical points either.


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Related Articles:
Fox News: How To Come Up With A Profitable Business Idea
Entrepreneur Magazine: Starting A Business – The Idea Phase
Forbes: 10 Businesses You Can Start For Under $10,000


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