Several weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the Teach It! session of the Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur workshop (anytime you can attend an event that brings people interested in entrepreneurship together from all over the state I highly recommend it). One piece of information that Dr. Rob Wiltbank shared has come up frequently as I’ve met with people who want to start a business. It is this: there are many ways to start a business.
Now I know this doesn’t seem earth shattering at first glance but hear me out.
Business schools and popular press have long since focused on setting a goal and then making a plan to get there. This is where the traditional 60-page business plan (an exaggeration, I hope) comes into play. Now goal setting and planning definitely have their place; however, this mind-set has inadvertently caused a little bit of analysis of paralysis for those wanting to start a business because they have trouble knowing what the perfect business idea is. “I just need a good business idea” is a phrased uttered by many wannabe entrepreneurs.
Dr. Wiltbank introduced the fact that you don’t need to know the perfect idea. Instead, if you want to start a business then look at what you have (knowledge, skills, network, interests, etc.) and brainstorm different ways you could leverage those things to solve a problem or meet a need. Then go out and talk to someone who you think might be your customer to see if there really is a problem and if you can really solve it. Then take what you’ve learned and decide again if you can solve a problem or meet a need. During the course of listening and learning is when you will really start to see the good ideas become apparent … then you can write that 60-page business plan.