In part one of the Ask a Small Business Owner Series, I wanted to touch on one of my favorite questions that I received:
How did you know what your shop would focus on?
I knew this would be a great place to start this series, but I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer it. It sounds easy, right? I have a successful shop that’s grown enough to support my husband and I, so obviously I should have a pretty good idea of how it all begin, right?
The reason I struggled with this question is because our business started 100% as a hobby. It was created to bridge the gap of unemployed/struggling entrepreneur as I tried to figure out my next move. I hoped to break even with it. I hoped to spend time doing something I loved and get out of the funk I was in because self-employment wasn’t all it was cracked up to be yet. That was it.
There was no business plan, no bank loan for a start-up business. Nothing other than me telling Nathan I wanted to start yet another Etsy shop, but this time just as a hobby while I figured life out.
Some may argue I have no business answering how to figure out your best business idea because of that. And I get that. But on the other hand, I think I’m even more equipped to answer that incredibly daunting question because I learned so much by accidentally launching what would later be pretty much the center of my life. I poured my heart and soul into something and it flourished. Just because I did it without the intent to build my career initially doesn’t change that fact.
Figure out what you love.
This is the core of figuring out your best business idea. You need to know what you love and find a way to put that into as many aspects of your business as possible. Even if you have multiple things you’re passionate about, see if you can combine then to form a bigger, bolder, more badass business. I took my hope for leaving the Earth a little better than when I found it and my love for creating better for your products at home and pulled them together to form The Gnarly Whale.
Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
This is a must-have. Your best idea will most likely not be to play it safe and stick with only the things you know. You need to be willing to jump through an endless amount of hoops to make your idea succeed. You may not have to, but you absolutely need to be willing to keep fighting if you hit a bump in the road. When I first had the idea for The Gnarly Whale, I had NO clue how tough the cosmetics industry can be. Product liability, FDA labeling requirements, insurance, safe product handling, etc. I was bombarded with so many dos and don’ts that I was really tempted to give up. But I pushed through, learned what I needed to, and I continue to push myself to go beyond what I’ve learned now.
Meet a need.
If it’s your need, even better. You’ll be able to put the most heart into your business if you’re solving your own problem. But even if it isn’t a need that you have, a business that fills a void is a business that can survive. For me, I wanted affordable products that were good for me and better for the environment so I met my own need with The Gnarly Whale. This aspect was the easiest one for me because I knew that regardless of how the business did, I would be creating things I believed in and wanted myself.
If you aren’t sure what you love, or how to get out of your comfort zone, or even what need you want to meet – try something. Anything. Start small, invest as little as possible, and see how it goes. Before I launched The Gnarly Whale, I had a print shop and a jewelry shop. I also did blog designing and consulting at one point, too. I enjoyed all of these things, but none of them were things I wanted to do all of the time so my heart wasn’t in them. I learned a lot of things about owning a business as well as things I didn’t want out of a business this way though. I’d like to think that these things paved the way for The Gnarly Whale.
I’d love to hear how you came up with your business idea!
Or, if you haven’t come up with it yet, I’d love to hear your wildest dreams for the business you dream of owning some day.
If you have any questions you’d like answered in this series, leave them in the comments! Or if would like to connect with me beyond the blog, feel free to email me any questions or even your personal stories of being self-employed – I’d love to hear them!
[Tweet “How To Figure Out Your Best Business Idea”]