Best Practices

SoMNSourceLink: Where Can I Get Ideas on a Business I Can Start?

Published Apr 10, 2013 by

While the desire to strike out on your own and start a business may be there, how can you determine WHAT kind of small business to start?

Researching what your town or community may be missing might be a place to start.  By talking to community leaders such as Chamber of Commerce staff, city or county officials, newspaper publishers, grocery store owners, or others in business, you may hear a common theme about a service or product that is missing from your town.  Do you have any knowledge about that service or business?  Have you done that kind of work?  Or would there be a way to learn it, by perhaps a technical school course?

University Extension services in your area may be a source as well.  Extension staff do research on regions, including service and retail resources available in their communities.  Their mission is to take the university’s research to the communities in the state.

If you have worked in a certain type of industry, for example as a cook in a restaurant, or a janitor in a business or organization, or a nursing assistant in a care facility, perhaps you’ve learned the ropes of that industry, understand how it works, or rules and regulations associated with it, from which you can spring into your own business modeling it after the one from which you came.

Do you have a passion about serving a need people may have?  Perhaps providing therapy to autistic children?  Or improving reading and math skills of middle schoolers?  Businesses that offer services to certain groups might be an option.

Want to explore further?  More ideas can be found at Business Opportunities.

After determining an idea, several key steps are to

  • Validate that your idea is not duplicated or being served already in your community;
  • Plot out your costs:  start up costs, like materials, supplies, equipment, and possibly building or office space lease, phones and other services you really need in order to start; and ongoing costs, like employee wages, transportation, supplies or materials you’ll need every day to keep your business going;
  • Get an idea of how much income, that is, how many users would use your product or service, and how much you would need to charge for it, to break even (much less make a profit!).

There are many agencies and offices listed on your SourceLink local web site where you can find counselors to help you fully plan and start your business once you have your idea.  The challenge is coming up with an idea that will launch you into a successful, sustainable business!

Content contributed by Maria Brown, SoMNSourceLink.

SoMNSourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.