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Is Your Business "the One"?

As an entrepreneur, chances are you’re an idea person.

This can be a great thing. You’ve got a constant stream of ideas on ways to improve your business or new angles to try.

The only problem? You can’t choose just one.

How Do You Choose the Perfect Business?

I struggled with this for years. I took hundreds of classes and read thousands of resources on starting an online business. I launched sites, let them die, and then launched new ones. I wrote lists of ideas on scraps of paper in the middle of the night, most of which I’d discard in the morning. I bought new domain names like they were candy.

The thing was, I knew I wanted to start a business. I just couldn’t decide which business.

If you’ve had this problem, you know how frustrating it can be. People tell you to just do what you love, but you love so many things. Or maybe the thing you love really isn’t a good business opportunity. Or maybe you just have a problem with commitment.

Is the problem you? Or are you missing something?

Love Isn’t Always Enough

The reality is, if you want to build a successful business, it’s not enough to love something. You have to love something that people are willing to pay for. But how do you know if you’ve landed on the right business idea? Is it better to just choose something and take it as far as you can, or should you wait for the perfect idea before you try to launch your business?

How do you know if your business is “the one”?

What do you think? Have you found “the one” with your business, or are you still searching? Let your fellow Firepole readers know in the comments below!

About Lisa Baker

Lisa C. Baker is the founder and partner manager at Authentic Partnership. Her mission is simple: to connect your business with influential partners eager to promote your products and services to high-value customers.

42 comments

  1. Good evening, Lisa, I hope you and your family are having a great week. I want to say that I was left hanging when reading this post because I was expecting to see how you figured out how you knew that the “right idea for your business was going to be the perfect one for customers.” I have a feeling that this blog post was written for us to figure out how to find the right business idea. Will continue to read all of your blogs here on FirePole Marketing. Hope you and family have a great week.

  2. I’ve always been told do something I love so that my job is not work. I still think that those are words of wisdom. I do love what I do and what I love even more is that all of the education and resources I have been delving into will help me do one more thing that is so important to me. My next stop in the future is a Non-Profit organization. Not that I want to stop what I am doing, quite the opposite since anything social is up my alley. I have just seen some travesties going on in the world that I would like to do SOMETHING about. My current career that I love will help me reach personal goals as well. My answer is a resounding yes, my business is “the one” for me! 🙂

    1. Awesome! Are you familiar with Ryan Eliason? Might want to check him out — he helps “social entrepreneurs” who want to build businesses that make a positive difference in the world. He’s worked with a lot of nonprofits too. It’s great you’re thinking in that direction, nonprofits really need to function like businesses, and a lot of people don’t realize that!

      1. Thanks, Lisa for this info. I am in need of someone to assist me with the business I want to start. It is also emotional and physical life problems that I wish to help lighten the burden.
        Do you mind if I use your name as reference?
        Thanks.

      2. Thank you, Lisa! No, I was not familiar with him but will definitely look him up.
        I’ve always tried to make changes where I saw a need for one. I saw a documentary about a specific situation that I found abhorrent and thought of how big of an issue it was and what on earth I could do to help. When I joined LinkedIn I found groups on nonprofits and had my “aha” moment about what I could do. I appreciate the tip on Mr.Eliason! Wishing you a great week!

  3. Frederick Buechner has written that ‘Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need’. When our greatest passion and our skills meet our audiences greatest needs then we have a satisfying, viable and ultimately profitable business.

  4. I had several failed business ideas and now I think I have found the “one”.

    Reasons, why I believe this:

    1) If I actually make the idea fly, I will get tremendous benefits, not only of economical, but also of spiritual nature. Mike Michalowicz claims (in the book “Toilet paper entrepreneur”) that behind every successful business is a so-called prosperity plan, which describes your destiny and the role of the business inside it. He writes that if you read the prosperity plan and you cry, then you probably found an emotional drivin force, which will help you build the business.

    My idea passes this test.

    2) There seems to be a big enough demand for the kind of products I want to sell. Partly this is supported by the existence of many stores, which sell the same product online and in physical stores. In the town, where I’m living right now (Moscow) I regularly see stores, where this product is sold. They wouldn’t exist, if there was no demand.

    But: When I pass by these stores, 70 % of the time there are no customers in them. This means there is an opportunity to sell this stuff more effectively (and I have ideas on how to do this).

    * * *

    I have many other ideas as well and in order to minimize my effort dissipation, I track the time spent on non-day-job activities and pay attention that most of it is used for implementing the one business idea. Time tracking allows me to notice when I lose focus.

  5. You know, I think another problem is in thinking that there can only be one “one,” ever. Of course you want to start a business you’ll love and that will last. But a business isn’t a marriage or a child.

    I’ve started several businesses over the years. Some didn’t take off and some did. With the ones that did take off, I moved away from them over time, the way you grow away from a friend you used to have a lot in common with.

    There were also things I started and pretty quickly realized weren’t going to work or weren’t right for me.

    I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to not find the ideal business forever and ever, at least not right now. Then it’s important to start. Something.

  6. Funny that you should ask this question today. Yesterday, I was questioning whether I wanted to do this forever. The answer is a definite YES!, if I can get more advertising or other income to support it. However, worrying about whether I can pay my freelance reporters and photographers is not what I want to continue doing. It seems the money comes in in waves, and right now the sand is pretty dry. It’s a niche that I have a good reputation in. I know readers trust me and read the publication, because my stats have grown exponentially. But they don’t buy ads. How do I get it across to them that this is a business and requires financial support?

    1. Advertising is a REALLY HARD way to make money. We’re putting out a report this month on all the different ways to monetize a blog…and they can apply to any kind of publication. It might be time to think about other angles for making money! Watch for our report later this month, it might help. 🙂

      1. I’ve wracked my brain for other ways to monetize, but so far, it’s advertising. I will certainly look forward to the report! I’ve been doing “other” jobs in editing and proofreading to support my publication, but some of them have dried up, too, as projects complete.

  7. I wish I can find my niche that will really pay. My problem is that what is my passion is not going to bring in money. I’m looking for a niche where I can live up to my passion of making a difference in other people’s lives and be paid.

  8. Lisa, it is OK to dream about your ideal business, but, it is another thing as to whether there is a genuine market that will make your business idea viable. The first lesson in Firepole Marketing courses is “don’t build a product for a market that doesn’t exist”. If you do your research and there is a market for your business product, then go for it and give it your best shot. If there isn’t a market, then your best efforts may not produce the return you hoped for and you may be better off pursuing other business opportunities. Be confident enough to research your dream business, but, be realistic enough to walk away from a business idea if it doesn’t check out as a viable business. If a business idea is viable, don’t forget that is still likely to require hard work to make it the success that people dream it will be.

  9. Are you happy? Do you feel an inner ease even when busy? Do you like to talk about what you are doing? Would you do it again if you had to start over? If yes, you are probably doing the right ‘one’ for you.

    1. How you feel is definitely a BIG piece of finding the right place for you. Are you familiar with Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map? Lots of great stuff there about listening to your intuition and how you feel.

  10. I absolutely love what I do and who I do it for – helping new entrepreneurs plan out their new companies, learn to manage risk and become confident that they will succeed – but I am working on a different way to do it. I want to produce the same outcomes for more people. So my business is “the one” in that it helps people solve the problem I most want to solve for them, but it’s not structured the way I want it to be to offer the greatest possible fulfilment for my clients and for myself. I’m getting there…!

  11. I was lucky. After three websites, and going through the same things that you talk about… I realized that my experiences could be replicated and passed on to others.
    It is about my personal adventures, yes… but it can also be laid out in a format that can be followed to achieve the same type of success that I had.
    Your column and readings here, along with others, have helped me to realize that my accomplishments can be passed on to others and that they are valuable.
    thanks for all you do!

  12. Although I’ve often questioned the feasibility of “falling in love”, I don’t doubt that this phenomenon exists. I’ve been there; done that. Only once! For I met “The One” and all doubts evaporated. I believe that finding “The One” business idea is similar …. and just as risky. We can minimize the risk by being totally honest with ourselves and listening carefully to what others say about our idea.
    #1. Research your inner world to find what makes you tingle with excitement every time the topic comes up. What makes you sigh with longing and murmur “if only ….” not just once but over and over?
    #2. You may think it is truly an impossible dream but some part of you can see it clearly in existence and flourishing. And perhaps even more significantly, you know you could stay with it even if it didn’t flourish for you are consumed with your “love of the art.”
    #3 Do you hear music and see the program in technicolor whenever you thing seriously about this, your One true Love?
    #4 Are you willing to invest your whole self into it and feel confident that when the time comes, you will be able “to leap tall buildings with a single bound”?
    If you can say “YES!” to all of the above, you have found The One business thoroughly right for you.
    For example (mine) – someone dropped a tiny newsletter into my lap back in 1997. With barely 200 readers, aimed at a niche so small I wondered if I would be writing only for myself, I said that “YES” because I loved the topic – Solitude and/or hermit life! Without looking for any more reward than knowing I was serving a very special group of people, I began to nurture this dream child.
    As years past, numbers increased; we (my husband & I) added new modes of service like providing hard-to-find articles; letting the readers “write” each issue of Raven’s Bread, Food for Those in Solitude”; publishing a handbook for hermits; offering retreat facilities; giving spiritual guidance to individuals via phone or Skype; starting a blog for solitaries’ sharing; upgrading our web site …. and responding to Media people who occasionally turned to us for answers about hermits. Without advertising but by simply believing that we were filling a genuine need, Raven’s Bread Ministries became better and better known. We became the “Go to” source for media people. When asked, we produced a series of hour-long presentations on hermit life for Livestream TV which were later posted on YouTube and made available as DVD’s and CD’s. We now average over 1,000 hits per day on our website and we have a full-time job we love. What more do you want to know?
    Oh, yes, the financial bit! We never had to invest a penny of our own money in this and found there was always some extra pennies we could skim off for personal needs. Lately, we’ve taken the Big Leap of telling everyone that we no longer have any set charge for any of our services. Folks are free to give whatever they can afford and wish to give …. and income increases monthly! This is how you know you have found “The One” right business for you.

  13. I think a good way to tell if I’ve landed on a good business idea is to see if I believe in it enough to be 100% committed to making it work. There has to be an element of love for the work, because no amount of money would make me want to spend day after day doing something I didn’t intrinsically want to do. The right business idea for me is one that inspires me to persist in facing the problems of running it, and get through them. Problems will never go away. We as entrepreneurs just need to keep learning how to respond productively. The ‘right business idea’ for me delivers something that my clients value and that I respect myself for doing. It needs to generate enough money to cover expenses and a certain margin for income. I think some people find it easier than others to figure out the mechanics of profitability. The day I know I need a new business idea is the day I lose the will to keep fighting for the one I have.

    1. Yes – the mechanics of profitability is really a separate question, but if you’re not thinking about it from the beginning, then you’re likely to land on an idea that really just can’t ever generate profit, which quickly becomes discouraging.

      1. Lisa – thank you for reading my comment, and replying thoughtfully. You are right that to have the right business idea, you need some objective evidence that the idea is viable. I would also need to know that my implementation will pay for itself soon enough at the very least! It is hard to know if you’ve got a good idea but are just presenting it all wrong, or if the idea itself is flawed. As a marketer, I tend to think a lot more good ideas suffer because the marketing is flawed, rather than the idea itself.

        1. That’s probably true! — but good marketing is closely tied to good ideas. I mean, the right idea to the right audience barely needs any marketing — it just “sells itself.” 🙂

  14. I AM my business… I finally figured that out by discovering my niche inside me instead of OUT THERE in the world. Going deep and discovering the reality of what I have to offer has been a long process for me, too. That seems to be pretty common. What’s not as common is having the courage and determination to persist. First we have to do it for ourselves and then we can help others do it. Hiring a coach was an important part of the process for me as a coach.

    1. That’s great, Mia! I think it’s a balance — looking inside you and also looking outward to see what’s needed…but it’s a hard balance to find! And yes, persistence is definitely key.

  15. Your journey to finding your business is a familiar one, Lisa. Sometimes it’s a necessary one.

    It’s important to find customers from people who share a common bond with you regarding problems, background, industry and their aspiration. That way you can understand where they’re coming from and what’s standing in the way to those aspirations. The business comes from finding how to give them the solutions to their problems so they can achieve the things they aspire to.

    I think the true match is when your business makes you feel recognised. Passion and love is not enough.

    1. YES – I’m coming to believe that the key isn’t to know WHAT you want to do but to know WHO you want to do it for. And then figure out what they need.

      And that’s interesting what you say about recognition. I don’t know if that would be important to me…maybe it’s key for some people but not others?

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