Who This Guide Is For
If you are looking to start a business online or offline but you have no clue which business ideas to build, this guide is for you.
If you have decided to build a side business and you have an idea, but you are not 100% sure if the business you have in mind is the best one for you, this guide is for you.
If you already have an online business, but you have concerns that you might not be building the business best suited for you, this guide is definitely for you.
The Complete Guide To Identifying The Business Idea You’re Best Suited For digs deep into discovering the idea that, should you build a business around it you will…:
- not lose your steam in a year or two
- utilize your strengths and skills
- create a market solution presence that stands out because it is unique to YOU
- create a solution that solves a problem in a niche whose demand or hunger for the solution is large enough to guarantee you success
There is a lot of meat on this post so I have put a table of contents so that you can jump to particular sections if you so wish and for easy navigation.
Where This Guide Fits On Your Business Building Time Line?
Table of Contents
- Where This Guide Fits On Your Business Building Time Line?
- My Pain and Frustration
- Do You Go Along With Gary Vee’s Advice To Follow Your Passion?
- Build The Foundation First
- The 3 Components of Your Business’ Foundation
- Importance of a Strong Foundation…Revisited Again
- Sustainable Interest-Product-Market Fit
- Finding Your Sustainable Interest
- Exercise #1: “The Only I can…”
- Exercise #2: Identify Your WHY
- Exercise #3: Identify Your Top 5 Core Values
- Exercise #4: Identify Interests You Have Put Effort Into
- Exercise #5: Create A Values/Interest Mash-Up
- Exercise #7: Find Your Tennis Ball…
- Exercise #8: What Is The Stone In Your Shoe
- Exercise #9: What Product/Service Are You Frustrated With?
- Exercise #10: What Product Can’t You Find Exactly How You Want It?
- Exercise #11: What Makes You Feel Alive The Most?
- Exercise #12: What Legacy Are You Going To Leave?
- Exercise #13: Pass the 30-50 Headlines Test
- Where Do We Go From Here?
If You Have An Existing Business
If you already have an existing business but you are not sure if you are building the business best suited for you, then this guide will be a reset button that takes back to the foundation of your business.
If you ever have a concern that you might be building the wrong business, then the foundation task of identifying your sustainable interest was skipped.
If You Are Still Considering What Business To Build
This guide is your first step. It is the critical step that should you skip it, your business will not last a year or two. GUARANTEED.
This guide is your blueprint for identifying the business you should get into based on practical exercises that will reveal the unique interests, skills, experiences and values you bring to the world.
One of the people I have respected for a long time since I heard him on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, is Ramit Sethi of the ‘I will make you rich’ fame.
He’s the real fu**ing deal by the way.
On growthlab.com, Ramit has an Ultimate Guide To Starting An Online Business that has the 5 steps on the pictogram below.
This resource, like many other resources on building a business online, does not do justice to the critical steps somebody should take in order to arrive at the stage where they build a website.
It is, like many other such guides online, seriously lacking in that area.
You wanna start a business online? Start with a website. What the fu*k?
A website about what?
My Pain and Frustration
When I was looking for a business to build online, I came across many blogs that have great material but that also teach this kind of bullsh*t.
It frustrated me to bits because nobody was talking about how I can identify which business exactly will be best for me given my skills, experiences, values, etc.
That frustration is what led me to believe that there has to be a better way to help people looking to start businesses.
We are going to take a different, more practical approach.
The approach to building a business online that we will take in this guide is born out of the realization that there is a such a high number of business ideas out there that choosing one that is best for you is quite a task in stress inducement.
If you do a search on google of side business ideas something like this will turn up in the search results.
Just the other day I received an email with an updated list of business ideas from a very popular personality in the blogging space.
The list had over 230 business ideas.
Holy cow!! 230 business ideas??!!
If you open those blogs that come up in the Google search, you will find in an instant that there is definitely no shortage of business ideas.
The guys and gals who run those blogs do a fantastic job in researching the business ideas.
Do You Go Along With Gary Vee’s Advice To Follow Your Passion?
Gary Vee is a living icon in the digital space. Don’t get me wrong but that piece of advice to follow your passion is just pure bullsh*t.
Read my post on why I think following passion into business is a fool’s game.
Choosing a business idea based on your passion is one of the 10 fatal errors to avoid when choosing a business to build around online platforms. (YouTube, Blogs, Podcasts)
Or around offline platforms for that matter. If there is any such thing anymore.
So the answer to whether you should go along with Gary Vee’s advice is a big fat NO.
So what do you do to identify the business idea best suited to you?
What do you do you ask?
Follow my advice, that’s what you should do.
Why should you follow my advice?
Because it is also Mark Cuban’s advice, which is also Mark Schaefer‘s advice to build a business around your sustained interest.
Build The Foundation First
Building a business is tough. It takes blood, sweat, tears, and balls.
Very big balls.
Both literally and metaphorically.
Without laying out a strong foundation, building your business is like building a house without a foundation.
That sh*t ain’t gon’ stand.
The 3 Components of Your Business’ Foundation
The foundation for your business, like the foundation for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, will be made of 3 distinct components. Each component is designed to add to the strength of the one before it, but all adding up to an extremely solid base upon which a truly remarkable structure is built.
Anybody who tells you to build your business without giving this kind of attention to your business’ foundation must suffer the fate that befalls people who waste your time.
We will be getting deeper with practical exercises into building all 3 elements.
First in this guide, then in the follow up one after this one.
Component #1: Identifying Your Place – The Sustainable Interest
This is what Mark Schaefer calls, your sustainable interest. This is what your business will be known for. Most people confuse their sustainable interest with their passion. The two are not the same.
“A sustainable interest is something that you love, a topic you’ll have fun with for years to come. This is the business or theme that you would like to be known for.”
I decided to build a business that will be known for providing no bullsh*t, actionable tips, tools and resources for building businesses. By helping you identify your place (your sustainable interest) this guide is a resource that accomplishes my mission to provide business builders like yourself with a resource that you can…no, that you MUST, use to build your online business.
Component #2: Identifying Your Space – The Hungry Market
Your space is your target market. Your Niche.
Getting into business based on an identified sustainable interest that nobody is willing to pay for, or that does not solve a problem that a significant number of people have is just plain stupidity.
That is why after using this guide to clearly identify your sustainable interest, you should proceed with the next step to identify a significantly sized market that is hungry for a solution and is willing and able to pay for your solution/product.
The space that I chose when I decided to build the Pipeline Builders platform is made up of people who are working full or part-time while building their own businesses.
For our Amazon FBA business, my wife and I picked as our space families that are seeking to incorporate mindful living into their homes.
Component #3: Crafting The Transformation Vehicle – The Product
Having a sustainable interest and having a large enough group of people that is hungry for a transformation doesn’t mean sh*t if you can’t develop a vehicle through which that transformation can be delivered.
Importance of a Strong Foundation…Revisited Again
The Burj Khalifa is supported by a large reinforced concrete mat that 3.7 m thick. That mat is supported by 1.5m diameter x 43m long bored reinforced concrete piles. The long piles are bored deep into a solid foundation of calcareous rocks.
That foundation is the principal reason why Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of Dubai sleeps like a baby at night.
He knows the building will not be shaken.
Your business, like the Burj, is what people will see on the outside. How large it will grow will depend on the foundation upon which it is built.
That is why you should NOT screw around with building a solid foundation.
This is also the reason why I have taken this long to talk about the foundation before I even dive into how to built it.
If you buy into the building a website/blog and make money quick schemes preached by so many people online, then you have the freedom to stop reading.
Just know that below is the business equivalent of what you are building.
Sustainable Interest-Product-Market Fit
The failure to find a common intersection between a sustainable interest, a product/solution, and the market is the reason most people build businesses online fail.
As you go about deciding on the business idea that you would like to select, there are three questions we have to find answers to in order for you to find that point of intersection between; your interest, your product/solution & the market hunger.
The questions are:
- What are you capable of delivering?
- Is there a large enough group of people to whom you can deliver what you are capable of delivering?
- Is what you are capable of delivering to the identified group of people considered a problem by this group. In other words, is the target group hungry for what you are capable of delivering?
Likewise, being able to serve an identified group of people with a great solution to a problem these people do not have is the perfect recipe for zero growth.
So there has to be a perfect union of three foundational elements.
You have to hit the Sweet Spot.
Like I said above, the reason many businesses fail is that they are built without having in place all three pieces of the online business foundation.
Your business will not be like that.
Now Let’s Build The Foundation
As you go through the exercises to identify your sustainable interest towards building your foundation, understand that at this stage you have not yet gone into identifying a problem that you would like to solve.
No. Not yet. That is work for later.
At this stage, all you want to do is just identify an interest that you are going to sustain over the long term.
Finding Your Sustainable Interest
Exercise #1: “The Only I can…”
This is one of the most useful exercises to uncover an interest that, if implemented into a business, can both be sustainable over time and is uniquely you.
By finishing this question, you are uncovering what you are currently known for in your world. This is something that you and many others truly believe only you can do better than most other people.
Examples: Only I can….
- …explain complex ideas about keto diets into simple ones.
- …prepare the most delicious gluten-free meals that whole families can enjoy.
- …understand the fashion sense of teenage girls.
- …can put together the most effective herbal ingredients for natural hair products for Black girls.
The practical importance of uncovering something many people say you are very good at is that this points to something that you have put in a lot of time in and as result have developed a high level of skill in thus making it an area of strength for you.
Besides the above positives, the thing that you and others believe only you can do is the thing that should you make a business out of, it will allow you to create a solution that is unique enough to stand out in any market.
And in the crowded and noisy markets that are making money today, trust me when I say this…
You wanna to be unique.
Hit this link here to Download the Only I can…Memory Jogger to help you dig through some things that while you might take for granted because they come easily to you, they represent things that others could be willing to pay for.
Go to people who have worked with you in a professional capacity recently. Talk to your bosses, your coworkers, your customers.
Don’t go to your friends or relatives, they are likely biased.
The key to the exercise is to listen. Really listen without judgment.
Exercise #2: Identify Your WHY
Having a deep understanding of the reason why you want to get into business is critical to building a business that is aligned and is connected to your values, your strengths, skills, and your purpose.
I believe that you and I don’t deserve to rest until we have built our businesses to the point where working in a corporate company is optional. This belief for me is rooted in my core value of freedom by any means necessary or unnecessary means.
This core value of mine is what has led me into building a business in which I have the honor and privilege of helping people like yourself who are also driven by the value of freedom.
I have fleshed out my why in pretty great detail.
You must do the same too.
Watch and listen to Simon Sinek’s talk at TED – Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.
This talk will change the way you approach building your business.
It did for me and a million others.
Exercise #3: Identify Your Top 5 Core Values
Identify a sustainable interest you have by combining a core value with your primary passion. This is the only time you should use passion: To uncover an opportunity. Not to use the passion itself as an opportunity.
Your values are your personal compass giving you guidance and direction for the choices you make. This exercise is intended to identify, define and align your values to your sustainable interest.
Remember that example about the foundation on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Don’t skip these steps. These foundational exercises will guarantee that you are building a solid business machine.
Exercise #4: Identify Interests You Have Put Effort Into
Identifying activities that you have put effort into is exactly what Mark Cuban says to do when choosing an idea to pursue as a business or career.
Because 1. chances are you are now really good at things you have been putting effort into for a long time and 2. you can control your effort.
Having consistently put effort into an activity means that you have build a skills set in that activity. The goal here is to identify those things that if you combine with your values, you would be able to identify a business idea that should you execute it, your solution will be unique to you.
And this noisy digital environment we live in today, you definitely want to have a unique solution.
Exercise #5: Create A Values/Interest Mash-Up
In this exercise you combine your core values with that thing in Exercise 4 above that you have invested a tonne of time in doing.
Creating a values/interest mash-up does one thing that is about 1.7 inches beyond genius.
It creates a combination that is so unique that the business you create based on the mash-up will stand out like Seth Godin’s purple cow. And with the amount of noise taking place all the markets where money is being made, trust me on this…
You wanna stand out. You wanna be the purple fu*king cow!
One of the best ways to have your solution to the market stand out, is therefore to create a values/interest mash-up.
Here are some examples
|Value||Interest With Tonne Of Time Invested||Mash Up|
|Family||Preparing Healthy Food||Create great tasting, healthy recipes that families can prepare and enjoy together|
|Personal Growth||Computer Programing||Create a productivity App for people building businesses while working full-time|
|Success||Teaching E-commerce||Teach teen girls to start blogs, vlogs or podcasts|
Exercise #6: Match Your Major Strengths With A Market Problem
It is critical that you create a business that is built on your areas of strength or your superpowers.
Identifying your strengths feeds into identifying things or areas that only you are very good at, which is a function of things or areas where you have developed expertise in, which in turn, is a function of where or what you have invested a lot of time and effort in.
Get the picture?
It makes a tonne of sense when you start putting all these exercises together.
The Gallup Company’s Clifton Strengths Finder is an invaluable tool for finding out your strengths. It helps in the discovery of the unique abilities that you can use to build a business around a problem that people have.
There is a tonne of strengths identification tools available online. Some free, some paid for. You don’t have to go with the one I used.
Becoming in tune with your strengths helps you focus on what you do best. And you become really good at something after investing a lot of effort in doing that thing. This ties in perfectly with what Mark Cuban said.
Also when you do what you are best at, growth is guaranteed.
Exercise #7: Find Your Tennis Ball…
Your tennis ball is your obsession.
If you have a dog you witness obsessive behavior in your dog each time you take him/her for a walk and you play fetch with a tennis ball. When the tennis ball is thrown the dog runs after it like it is possessed and it never comes back to you until it finds it.
The most successful people are obsessed with finding a solution to a problem.
What problem are you obsessed with solving?
Do you have a ‘thing’ that you are obsessed with that you could build into a solution to a problem people have? Do you know somebody who is obsessed with something with whom you could partner with to build a solution?
Exercise #8: What Is The Stone In Your Shoe
Have you ever had the great misfortune of having a tiny stone get inside your shoe?
If you haven’t then let me you in on this.
The moment a stone gets into your shoe, you will stop everything you are doing and focus 100% on doing whatever you have to do to get the stone out. The level discomfort a tiny stone inside a shoe introduces to a human’s life is comparable to what you feel when a speck enters your eye.
You aint’ doing anything else until that sh*t’s is gone!
Now what do stones in shoes have to do with building a business?
Ok, the stone is a personal problem in your life or in the life of somebody you know and the shoe being worn…well that is your, or that person’s life.
So when I say identify the stone in your shoe, I simply mean identify a problem, challenge or struggle in your life that’s been giving you so much grief that you would kill to have it solved.
Ok, not kill, but…you get the picture.
What is that problem for you or for somebody you know – especially loved ones?
Take the example of Nagina Abdullah.
Nagina struggled with her weight and finding great tasting food after she gave birth to her two kids. This struggle led her to create her own recipes that not only busted her weight but that were also great tasting.
When friends and colleagues started asking her what she had done and she gave them her recipes, Nagina realized that her struggle had led her to a cash motherload.
Long story short, she used her personal struggle with weight to build masalabody.com, a business that now does well over five figures per month in revenue.
Another lady who did almost the same thing as Nagina was Mary Shenouda.
Mary’s health struggles from 2nd grade till she was 25. When she found that she was a Celiac, Mary took matters into her own hands and started making dishes that helped her manage the disease.
Her results were so amazing that people started asking her for her products.
These are just but two examples of people who used their life struggle to find a sustainable interest that they have build a successful business around.
Do you have a problem, challenge or struggle that you have conquered or that you can go about the journey of conquering?
Could there be many other people facing the same challenge you have who could benefit from your journey?
Sometimes the real gem of an opportunity is hiding in plain sight right close to you.
Sometimes you don’t have to look far to locate a sustainable interest that you can build a business around.
Just look around or within you.
Exercise #9: What Product/Service Are You Frustrated With?
Enter Michael Winchell and Anthony Ostlan.
Mike and Tony are two fitness buddies who were super frustrated with the lack of real food bars that did not contain added sugar and weird ingredients they couldn’t pronounce.
Instead of bitchin’ and complain’, the buddies decided to grab the bull (their frustration) by the balls. The created their own tasty paleo bars and have built Mammoth Bars into a business that, to date, does well over $25K in revenues monthly.
Isn’t that sick?
The questions I have for you is this?
What is your bull? Could there be other people out there who are willing to part with their hard-earned cash to have your solution so they can tame their own bulls?
Exercise #10: What Product Can’t You Find Exactly How You Want It?
You could be looking for a product or service that you need in a certain specification yet nobody in the market is offering exactly what you are looking for. If you know that many people are using the same product or service, this could be a great idea for a business you can build offering a way better or way more customized product or service.
Take the case of Sarah Hannington for instance.
Sarah was looking for a very simple product. Candy.
What made the candy Sarah was looking for different, however, is that she wanted hers printed. The only company she could find however could only print round shaped candy…which is not what Sarah wanted.
Frustrated that nobody was offering custom printed candy, Sarah found a business idea and she build her business around that.
Today My Custom Candy counts Kim Kardashian as a customer.
How cool is that?
So what product or service have you been looking for but can not find? Identify that and you may found the promised land.
Milk and honey floweth…
Exercise #11: What Makes You Feel Alive The Most?
There are things or a thing that when you are doing them or it, you feel most alive.
What is that thing? Or, put in other words, what situation makes you shine?
Do you feel alive the most when you are…
- Solving problems?
- Creating software?
- Connecting with people?
- Traveling the world?
- Teaching other people?
- Learning new things?
- Helping other people?
There’s got to be something that when you get down to doing it, you just feel like you are having an orgasm…
Not literally. But you get my point.
It’s your job to find that thing which gives you a feeling similar to the one of being on top of THE mountain. (You know what I mean)
When you have identified the activity that makes you feel alive the most, the next question you must answer is this:
What sustainable interest do you have that will allow you to do more of this?
The things we do that make us feel alive the most are the things that are driven from our center of strength. Our core. It is these things that we tend to do the best and that are imbued with our uniqueness.
And in the noisy world in which we live, your uniqueness might just be the thing that will make your solution stand out.
Schaefer, Mark. KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age (p. 68). Kindle Edition.
Exercise #12: What Legacy Are You Going To Leave?
If you are like me, you know that one day you gon’ die. Somebody gon’ be reading your obituary.
Outside of the great things that your family will remember you for, what will the rest of the world remember you for?
Or phrased another way, if you had an option to choose one thing that you could be remembered for, what could that be?
Could what you want to be remembered for be something to do with providing a solution to a problem many people have?
Another great way to dig deep into your desired legacy is to ask yourself the following question.
If in 20 years time you are a world-renowned expert in some field or area, what field or area would that be? Here we are not looking at the things you do building other people’s businesses at your place of work,
We are talking about things you do building your own business.
Exercise #13: Pass the 30-50 Headlines Test
Building a growing business online or offline depends on the extent to which you are able to build what Ryan Deiss at Digital Marketer calls relational equity with your audience and customers.
What this means is you have to provide value to your target market long before you ask them to buy from you.
The idea of providing value before asking for the sale is the premise behind the great Gary Vee’s book, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. The way you provide value is to either educate, entertain, emotionally connect or make them believe they are part of something larger than them.
This you will do through your blog posts, videos or through a podcast.
If you are not able to write down the headlines of 30-50 topics that you will cover in the process of building relational equity with your audience, then your chances of building a business that adds value in that niche are limited.
Building relational equity with your target audience is the only way they can trust you enough to buy from you. So if you can’t build it, based on your inability to list down 30-50 headlines, then it is a good idea to look for another business idea.
If you go through all the exercises in the Sustainable Interest Finder Worksheet, there is a high probability you will come up with a deep understanding and appreciation of what it is you have to offer to the world. Your chances of building a business that grows profitability are increased by a factor of 100 because your business will have a foundation that is based on your:
- Skill sets
I am positive that at this stage having identified your sustainable interest, you already have a good idea of what business you are best suited to build and have a few ideas lined up.
If you are already building an existing business at this stage you should have a solid idea of what changes you need to make so your activities and efforts align with the business you are best suited to build.
Where Do We Go From Here?
From here we find a market that is hungry bearing in mind what your sustainable interest is.
In short, we match your sustainable interest to a problem in the market for which you can build a solution for.