How does someone decide what business they should start?
There's a delicate balance to consider when choosing what to build a business around. First, it must be something you can sustainably put your full energy into, not just a casual interest that will quickly fizzle. However, the flip side is to be cautious if launching a business around your favorite hobby. If you love doing something and then you try to make money at it, it could become the thing that you dread. I'll share a story from my own experience. Many years ago, I loved scrapbooking. I was the one in the family who put all our photos into books. I loved reliving our trips and family memories as I put them in the book. I decided to start a direct sales business teaching the art of scrapbooking and selling supplies. It then became my work. What I used to enjoy turned into a task and I lost the very thing that brought me joy. I haven't created a new book since then.
What else should people consider when they're starting a new business?
My second tip is to "Have a plan". Starting a business without a good plan can end in your feet slipping out from under you. Michael Gerber, who wrote The e-Myth books, calls this the "entrepreneurial seizure". Starting a business with a great idea and a lot of passion may get you some short-term success, but it may not be sustainable. You have to have a vision of where you want to go, an idea of your business model, or your revenue streams, and a growth plan. Even if that plan evolves and expands over time, you need to have a starting point to build on. A good coach can help you create and stick to your plan. It's important to know if you are creating a job for yourself or building a business.
Is there anything they can do early on to make things go smoothly as their business grows?
It's a great idea to start documenting processes and keeping good records, early on. I've seen new businesses really take off and before they know it, they're too busy to go back and put systems in place to support the business. That's usually when they come to me to get things out of their head and put them down on paper. If you can do a bit that as you go, you won't have to play catch up 2 or 3 years in. Again, there is a balance. It's good to have some time in, so you get a good feel for your workflow and the processes that work. That makes the documenting go a little easier. At the very least, start keeping good financial books right from the beginning. Especially if you are in the type of business that could be financed. Investors will want to see your history.