There are several common thoughts on the key elements to a successful business. Two of those most often mentioned are to build the business around a need or to build your business around your passion.
While there are examples of both elements working, realistically, a combination of the two provide the strongest launching pad.
Passion alone can go a long way in helping you persevere as delays, roadblocks and frustrations grow. If you have that burning desire to work in a certain field or discipline, then that desire will help you get through the tough times. Without that spark, the first moment of frustration easily can become a mountain blocking your progress instead of just a bump in the road.
Yet passion does nothing to ensure that the market is ready for what you are trying to sell. I have worked with lots of business owners who were so focused on what they wanted to do that they never asked the consumer what he or she wanted. In some cases, this meant a great deal of money spent, a warehouse of unsold product, and a lot of time headed down the wrong road. While the money spent and the unsold inventory are hard to accept, you can recovery those resources. What you can’t get back is the time.
To be a successful business owner, you need look at your passion from an unbiased perspective and with an understanding of what will sell in the market. It means channeling your interest. It means understanding not only what the market wants but what it will pay for. For example, someone interested in growing plants might start a greenhouse or a service to care for the plants in commercial buildings, or he or she may get a chance to teach this art to others.
So what makes stopping to consider the market place so difficult?
- Often, we are simply so interested in getting started. Instead of being methodical in our work, we skip steps assuming we know the answers or just in a rush to get the doors open.
- We have an aversion to planning – When we think of planning, we think work, wasted time and expensive. But this need not be the case because tools exist to make doing a feasibility plan easier.
- People starting a business often cannot get out of their own way – We may get fixated on an idea and are unwilling to look at options. Or we may feel we are surrounded by naysayers and decide we need to do it our way.
- And if it isn’t naysayers, it the the “yes” people who keep telling you it is a great idea and everyone will love it. You may even test the idea out by selling to all your friends and relatives. But do they really represent the market. And are you selling at the price you need to have for long term success?
- To overcome our lack of planning, we try to create a business that covers all the options. We should be focusing, instead, on the one that makes us happy and makes us money
So when looking at at a business to start or perhaps a new line to offer, passion is good but know the market is great.
“Success depends on analyzing the opportunity to determine whether there is a viable opportunity. You simply can’t force the market to embrace your business no matter how fabulous you think your product or service is” – Susan Wilson Solovic
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.