I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes at ExpatStartup, where I’m preparing to launch some exciting changes after the first of the year. First, I’ll be expanding my focus to include any entrepreneur, not just expats. Everything that I write will still be applicable to expat entrepreneurs, I’ll simply be focusing on writing more inclusive content that anyone can apply. I’ll also be including some expat focused content in my coaching program so that I can continue to meet the unique needs of expat entrepreneurs.
The second big change coming in 2018 will be a clearer focus on getting your startup off the ground. I’m going to be leveraging my skills and passions to cue in on the key fundamentals that you will need to get started. I want to give you the tools you need to move forward with a concrete action plan. I’ll also be providing one-on-one coaching and consulting for those of you looking for an extra level of expertise and accountability as you launch your company.
One of the first things that I’ll be offering will be a FREE guide to “Finding Your Profitable Business Idea.” It will be jam-packed with the tools you need to find a profitable idea that leverages your unique set of skills and passions.
Today, I want to give you a sneak peek of what is to come. I’m sharing Part 1 of the guide. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the Parts 2 and 3.
Can I ask you to do me one favor? Would you read through it and take a minute to comment with your feedback or send me any questions you have? Your feedback would be so helpful as I continue to finalize the guide and ensure that it is a tool that truly helps aspiring entrepreneurs identify a profitable business idea.
Finding Your Profitable Business Idea
As I meet with aspiring entrepreneurs, many share a common problem that holds them back from chasing their dream to be their own boss, create a flexible work schedule, and achieve financial freedom. They know what they want to achieve but they struggle to find the profitable idea that will help them get there.
I was in the same situation just a couple of years ago. My family and I had just moved back to the US after living in East Africa. While I had already started three businesses, I was stuck in a rut and couldn’t figure out what was next. I had a good job as a vice president for an international nonprofit, but I felt I wasn’t using all of my skills and wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing. I knew it was time to start another business, but I just couldn’t figure out where to start. Who were the customers I would serve? Once I found my idea, how would I make it profitable?
I knew I had a unique set of skills, experiences, and passions. I also knew there had to be a way to create another profitable business that leveraged these strengths. I read everything I could get my hands on about finding profitable business ideas. I read books, articles, and blog posts. I watched videos and took surveys. Many of these were not very helpful, but a few of them were. By using those helpful tips, I was able to find the idea that worked best for me.
In this guide, I have taken the absolute best ideas from all of my research and pared them down into a well-organized, concise guide that I believe will give you all that you need to find your profitable business idea. If you commit the time to carefully work through each step of this model, you will be ready to take your idea and begin turning it from an idea into a profitable business.
Step 1 – Find Your Idea
Let’s start by getting the ideas out of your head and onto paper or your computer. For some of you, this won’t be a problem because you have multiple ideas every day. You just need help finding out which of these ideas is profitable. Stick with me, we will get to that in the next section.
Others of you have no idea where to start. This is the same place where I found myself and I want to introduce you to the formula that worked for me.
The Secret Formula
This simple formula is a crucial component of finding your profitable idea. We will use it throughout this process and continue to refine each of the parts to increase your chance of discovering a profitable idea.
Here is the formula:
Passion + Skills + The Need = Profitable Idea
Variable 1 – Passion
What are you passionate about? For some of us, we can quickly rattle off a list of passions. We are filled with emotion when we think about our passions and it is hard for us to understand that everyone doesn’t get as excited about them as we do.
It could be things like spirituality, sports, politics, family, travel, spending time outdoors, helping others, working out, cooking, and so on.
If you are having a hard time coming up with this list, here are a few questions to help you along:
What do you love to do in your free time?
What do you work on that energizes you and makes the time seem to fly by?
What could you talk about for hours at a time?
What types of topics do you read about?
What types of shows do you watch?
After asking yourself these questions, take some time and write down at least three things you are really passionate about. This will give us a starting point to create the first variable and start working towards your profitable idea.
Variable 2 – Skills
What skills do you have? This can be harder to put your finger on than your passions. At least it has been harder for me. You may work within an industry where you are surrounded by people with similar skills. If that is the case, you may falsely assume that everyone possesses those skills, but in the population as a whole, those skills might be difficult to find. Be sure to look outside of your work to realize how valuable your skills are or to find skills you didn’t realize you had.
Skills can be technical like computer programming, playing an instrument, or baking cakes. They can also be soft skills, such as teaching, providing advice, asking good questions, and facilitation.
If you are having a hard time coming up with a list of skills, here are a few questions to help you along:
What do people ask you for help with?
What do your friends say you are good at?
What are you better at than most of your friends and family?
After asking yourself these questions, take some time and write down at least five skills you have. This will give us the second variable in working toward your profitable idea.
Variable 3 – The Need
Now that you have a list of your passions and skills, you can start to look for a need. A way to help you identify needs is by classifying them into one of two categories: more and less.
In his book The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, Chris Guillebeau tells us people either want/need more of something, such as money, comfort, or free time. Or people want/need less of something, such as uncertainty, stress, or conflict.
What is something that, when added, would make someone’s life better?
What is something that, when taken away, would make someone’s life better?
Can I use may skills to help add or take this away?
Would I be passionate about helping meet this need?
Don’t worry if you think they are terrible and won’t make any money. The point is to dedicate some time to thinking in this way. You need to come up with at least one idea.
One thing that helps me to practice the skill of identifying needs is to carry around a small notebook (or phone app) so that I can write down needs as I experience, see, or think of them. I encourage you to cultivate this habit, as well as get in the habit of dedicating some time each day to look for needs you experience and those experienced by your friends, family, or co-workers.
If you have done this a few times and are still struggling to identify needs, I recommend the book, Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century by Claudia Azula Altucher. She provides a framework for idea creation and exercises to get your creative juices flowing.
Thank you for reading Part 1 of “Finding Your Profitable Business Idea.” Be sure to send me your feedback and be on the lookout for Part 2 in the next couple of weeks.