From the Nolo eCommerce Center
Your business should have a solid chance at profitability – but it should also suit your particular skills and strengths.

If you want to work for yourself, but don’t have a particular business in mind, you’re probably wondering what kind of business you should start. Fortunately, the answer is always the same: Start a venture you know intimately.

Know the Ins and Outs of the Business

Don’t fall into the trap of starting a particular business just because someone tells you, “It’s a sure thing.” Potential customers will part with their hard-earned money only if you convince them that they’re getting their money’s worth, so you’ll need to know what you’re doing, no matter what the task.

Choosing a Business You Know

Starting a business in which you already have experience has many advantages: You can use your knowledge about the industry, your training and skills, and your network of contacts, who might help you find financing, suppliers and customers.

Example

For ten years Steve worked for several different construction companies – first as a journeyman carpenter and then as a project manager. When he got the itch to start his own business, it made perfect sense for him to start a small contracting business specializing in home-improvement. He knew the industry well, including the best places to buy supplies and what he could charge for services, and he had the required skills, such as how to estimate and bid jobs – and it didn’t hurt that he knew how to pound nails as well. The contacts he had developed over the years were glad to talk to him about running a small contracting business, and many customers he had worked with in the past told him they’d be willing to hire him if he were working on his own.

If you’re interested in turning something you know and love into a business, talk to people you’ve worked with about what it takes to run that kind of business. Learn all you can about start-up costs, overhead and expenses and how much revenue you can expect to make. If you have several interests, but aren’t sure which would make the best business, consider how you can translate your strengths, education and skills into business opportunities, and research the marketplace to see which types of business are presently needed in your area.