Should I start a business now? Ok what business?

As a serial entrepreneur I often get asked by other people: “What business would you suggest I start….right now….in the middle of all this ‘Brexit’ uncertainty?” I could be deliberately difficult and ask “Well what type of business would you love to start?”, as your answer to that question will ultimately determine whether or not you just ‘get by’ or become a multimillionaire. But to keep it simple (and quick) let me give you the bare bones together with a real business idea you can have for FREE even though it could make you millions!

First of all most successful businesses started life in the Complaints Department. Any area of human existence in which you may have heard someone else remark; “This is dreadful….why doesn’t somebody…………?” or “Why isn’t there a shop around here which……?”  or “Why can’t I find on the internet a reliable service which…………………….?” Or “Why isn’t there a ………………….locally?”, ………… potentially a great business for YOU to start.

What you don’t do (unless you secretly want to fail) is say to yourself,  ‘I am a trained software designer I will start a business designing software’  or ‘I am a trained accountant I will set up my own accountancy practice’ …Then spend a fortune renting an office, buying all the desks, chairs telephones, computers then sit back and wait for your client base to find you. It will not happen and you are likely to run out of money and fail fast.

The reason is that most (i.e. 90%) of successful businesses are successful simply because they solve a particular problem.

So take three initial steps: 1) Start with writing down the problem you aim to solve first with your business. 2) Then research the physical area in which you think there is a shortage of solutions for that problem. 3) Then test the market as cheaply as possible to see if anyone actually wants (and would pay for) a solution to that problem. If you discover they would then it is probably safe to say you have a solid business idea.

I watched a young friend of mine do just this when she left University with a degree in finance and economics. She couldn’t find a job and had very little money. She had an idea that in her relatively poor area of North London there were many one-man-band business owners (window cleaners, plumbers, decorators, electricians etc) People who were good at their jobs but hopeless with keeping their books, doing their accounts and paying the tax man; and they had a problem that couldn’t afford a conventional accountant. So she advertised her small business book-keeping service in every free place she could …mostly the FREE noticeboards in supermarkets.

That was 10 years ago. The response was so strong to her free advertising and built up so fast that she now franchises the business throughout the UK and has become very wealthy. And it all started because she identified a real problem that needed a solution. Anyone could have done it….but nobody had…….so this is the niche which she now fills.

In the city area in which I now live, it is difficult (i.e. a problem) to find (reliable!) decorators, gardeners, window cleaners, cleaners, odd-job men (or women) dentists, child minders, auto body repairers and so on and so on.

I recently had to find someone to fix some water damage in my kitchen. I eventually found an emergency ‘ handy man’ service advertising in my local Sainsburys…£50 per hour callout charge! But I was stuck and had to use him. He completed the job beautifully and when he had finished I asked him if there was much call for a handyman service in my part of town. He told me the market was enormous and that he had recently taken on two assistants. (Even in these uncertain post Brexit times) But the truly amazing thing was his added comment. Because he told me that 90% of the work they were asked to do was: ‘putting up pictures’. With all such business ideas it is not necessary for you to actually DO the work; you just have to find people who CAN and then promote and manage the business. So why don’t you try either of these ideas outlined above in the UK area YOU live in?

It need only take a small FREE card advertising the service (i.e. the problem you solve) in all your local Supermarkets. If they (potential customers) start biting you may have a business….If not it has cost you nothing and you can think of something else.

And IS this the right time?  Well just remember this last point……over the last century thousands of business people have become millionaires by starting businesses during difficult financial times…..just like these. When everyone else was sitting on their hands in a ‘wait and see’ mode they just got on and started.

So what’s stopping you?


Bob Etherington

“Europe’s Best Sales Trainer” :  [Voted by ‘Sales Innovation Expo’ 2015 and 2016, Excel London.]

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