10 tips for deciding what kind of business to start

If you have the entrepreneurial itch but don’t quite know how to scratch it, you are not alone. Many people feel the urge to start a business but just aren’t sure what to do. Here are ten ways to flush you’re your options and interests and find the business that is right for you:

1.Evaluate Your Interests, Talents, and Skills. What do you like and dislike about your current job and jobs you’ve had in the past? Do you love writing business documents? Do you hate calculating numbers? Make a list of everything you like to do. Here are some ideas to get you started: writing, working with numbers, solving problems, managing groups, designing brochures, giving speeches, working one on one, working in a group, organizing, decorating, sewing, woodworking, fixing things, researching, drawing, painting, and working with children. Once your list is complete, study it to see if a business idea jumps out at you. Show the list to your family and friends and ask for their input.

2.Imagine if Money Was No Object. Let’s say you’ve just won a lottery for $500,000- congratulations! It’s not enough to retire on, but it’s enough to make some decisions about your future. Consider what you would do if you won a large chunk of money. What kind of business would you start if you had endless resources? And though you may not realistically have endless resources at your disposal, there are ways to work toward your ultimate goal once you decide what your goal is.

3.Consider Your Hobbies. Whether you are a musician, an artist, a writer, a crafter, an athlete, an entertainer or a chef, you may be able to find a business that takes advantage of these talents. Gifted writers can make money selling freelance articles or offering a copywriting service to businesses. Antique collectors can open a shop or sell their wares on eBay. Artists can sell original pieces or use their creative talents to produce items for resale like greeting cards or tee shirts.

4.Interview Your Family and Friends. By asking the people closest to you for input, you could gain some surprising insight. Perhaps your best friend will remind you of your culinary talents or your grandmother will compliment your decorating skills. Maybe your brother will tell you that he always thought you would end up working with animals because you rescued all the neighborhood strays. If for nothing else, asking those closest to you will breed discussion about your future and may lead to the spark of inspiration you are seeking.

5.Start Looking at the Business World Through a New Set of Eyes. Every business you see was started somewhere by someone. The dry cleaner you visit weekly, the grocery store where you shop, the quaint coffee shop on the corner and your favorite take-out restaurant were all born from somebody’s dream. Pay attention to every business you encounter. Is the owner present? If so, does he or she look happy? Tired? Frantic? Talk to business owners wherever you go and ask them about their work life.

6.Go to the Bookstore or the Library. Books provide you the best opportunity to self-educate. You can learn about virtually any topic under the sun just by reading. Spend some time in the business section thumbing through the selections.

7.Learn About the Industry. If you have a general interest, you can use the internet to learn more about an industry and perhaps find some inspiration or a business idea. Search the internet for topics such as sports, writing or public services. Try different combinations of key word searches to see what kind of inspiration you can drum up. For example, if you like pets, you could start a pet sitting service, doggie day care, dog walking, behavior training, or homemade treats business.

8.Visit Business Startup Websites. Read through articles on business websites and find out what others are doing. Is there something out there that you think you could do better? Check out and

9.Spend Time on Business Forums. has a great set of message boards where you can swap ideas with other entrepreneurs.

10.Think Outside the Box. If your dream is to open a restaurant, but you don’t have the resources, consider ways to launch the business on a smaller scale. You could rent time in a commercial kitchen at a church or community center and sell your goods to coffee shops and restaurants. Perhaps you will even find that you like this business structure more than running a busy restaurant. Or you could reinvest your profits into a long-term plan to open your dream location.

A coffee mug on a table with the words "Think outside the box".

You never know when inspiration is going to strike so don’t give up. Keep looking at the world around you. Even a scene in a movie could inspire your dream business. Your chances of success will be greatly increased if you select a business you can be passionate about. You’ll know you’ve found it when thinking about it keeps you up at night and the excitement takes over. When that happens, all of your struggles will be worth the effort.

About the author
Stephanie Chandler is the author of “The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide: Kick Start Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!” and the founder of, a directory of free resources for entrepreneurs. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter for hot tips and small business resources.