Want to Start a Business? Find YOUR Competitive Advantage
Hey there, Freedom Seekers!
This is number four of our series of live videos and articles, and this series centers around starting the right business for you so that you can launch it on a rock-solid foundation so that you can get to profit faster. And as a result, live a life you love sooner. So the first stage of starting the right business for you is to do both internal and external research.
External research has to do with the market, sectors of industries, and trends. Internal research has to do with YOU and picking the right business for you.
In last week’s article, we discussed the risk of underestimating business ownership [Starting a Business: Why You Might Need to Reinvent Yourself], with two examples.
The first example was choosing a business that we end up hating because when we picked it, we only focused on the profitability of the business and we omitted (or ignored) the internal research to making sure that the business is in alignment with our vision of an ideal life.
And the second example was wrongly assuming that being an expert in a field, automatically makes us an effective business owner in that related field. While it is great to have technical expertise, a new business owner needs to consciously decide to become an expert in the art and science of business ownership. Sometimes it means stepping outside of our glorious comfort zone where we are used to shining, and becoming a newbie, at least temporarily.
So today we are discussing another risk. That’s the risk of staying stuck in a job we hate for years and decades, simply because of the wrong and limiting belief that we cannot succeed as business owners, or that we can’t afford or that it’s too risky.
Most who don’t enjoy their careers, don’t realize that there is an opportunity cost in staying in a soul-sucking job. The cost is missing out on a better life. That’s a huge cost. Incidentally, a Gallup study finds that the majority of employees are disengaged with their job. In 2019, the percentage of disengaged workers in the U.S.was 65%. That’s a tragedy.
For years, until this pandemic, I conducted entrepreneurship workshops at a California Employment Development Department in Silicon Valley. And every month, I would meet very smart and hardworking individuals who admitted to hating their jobs. They were tired of the many layoffs that they’d gone through in their careers, of the time-vampire commutes, of business travel, missing out on their kid’s life, politics in the office, glass ceiling, etc. Many dreamed they could start a business because they fantasized about the freedom and flexibility of the business owner who is self-sufficient and who decides everything in their life, where they work, when they work, with whom they work, when they take time off, and even when they get a raise.
I had many discussions with those who wanted to explore starting a business. And many found out, to their surprise, that they could start a business because they had skills that were transferable to business ownership. They also learned that there are many more options in financing a small business than they had ever considered.
Some started a new business from an idea. Others bought a business. And others decided to start a side-gig or semi-absentee or an absentee business, which was their ticket to eventually becoming full-time entrepreneurs and quitting their day jobs.
If you are not happy with where you are today, with what you’re doing with your days, and how you are living your life, you know that time will continue to move on. Not making a decision, is a decision in itself and usually the wrong one.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Regardless of what you do today, your life is not going to improve unless you make some changes. Any change begins with just one single step, which is the step of researching and exploring. Exploring starting a business to see how it could fit your life, or change your life entirely, is a low-risk decision. If you have a job, you don’t even have to quit it to research and explore.
So here’s the good news. There are thousands of viable businesses and ideas for businesses out there. Yet, a viable business doesn’t guarantee your success or that it will be a vehicle to having a life you love. When it comes to small business ownership, profits are great, but not enough. The best strategy to find a business that will be your ticket to the fantastic life many owners (but not all) have, is to begin your research by understanding “YOU.” Awareness of your strengths, your talents, and your purpose will lead you to understand your competitive advantage as a business owner. When you understand what makes you shine, when you uncover your genius, your research of business ideas and business models will lead you to the right business for the right life. Your ultimate goal is to capitalize on your competitive advantage by choosing a business that is economically viable, of course, but also one that will thrive with you at its helm.
In fact, when you begin your entrepreneurial career, the best way to make your life easier as a business owner is to pick the best, most aligned business with YOU. Not by picking a business, around which you will mold your life. That’s what a job is for. Businesses are just as unique as their owners and starting a business is like beginning a relationship, and like with any relationship, you need to find your best match.
When I work with my clients, the first thing we do is to assess their competencies, their behavior strengths, their weaknesses and blind spots, their values, their talents, so that we can identify their competitive advantage. We also research their purpose, as prescribed by Simon Sinek in finding your “why”, which I will discuss in another article.
We begin with identifying what stands out and what they enjoy among their skills and expertise. For example, a project manager in any industry has unknowingly been trained to run a small business, which is nothing more than a long-term project with resources to allocate, stakeholders to manage, and deadlines. Another example is anyone with sales, marketing, or business development expertise is at a great advantage in any small business because sales are the driving force of all businesses. Anyone who teaches, presents, guides is a perfect example of transferable skills that are essential to all businesses. A mom, or a dad, who took a career break to raise the kids may not realize that juggling all these priorities and managing a family is the perfect preparation for running a small business. And let’s not forget, the skill to manage people, officially or de facto, is essential to any business that needs to grow and scale. Everyone has a skill, a talent, an aptitude, and a purpose that gives them a competitive advantage in running the right business for them.
Let’s not forget an important principle. Running a business requires many expertise: sales, marketing, management, operation, logistics, financial, legal, etc. Yet, no one masters them all. Savvy business owners carefully evaluate how they spend their time. Even if they did master all the business skills necessary to run a business, there’s not enough time in a day for anyone to do it all. Owners who want to succeed in growing their business AND to living a life they love, understand that the key is to identify their strengths and align themselves with the business that needs them most and outsource or hire out the rest. I have learned in my career as a small business entrepreneur that the most expensive errors I ever made, in time and dollars, were when I thought I could do it without help or guidance. Hiring experts and coaches is a lot cheaper than making mistakes that are going to cost time and money and distract you from activities where you shine.
Here is today’s takeaway:
- If you hate your life as an employee, at least research, what it would take to start a business. Your life actually depends on it.
- Don’t be afraid to seek expert advice to guide you through. As business owners, you will succeed faster, and enjoy your life more, when you learn to outsource expertise.
- There are thousands of businesses and ideas for businesses that are viable. A crucial priority for your success is to find the one that is the right pick and the best match for you.
Let me know in the comments or send me a message. What is stopping you from starting the right business for you so that you can live a life with more freedom?
Until next time… Cheers to living a life you love!
Let me help you begin your journey: I invite you to book a no-cost strategy consultation with me. We’ll discuss how you might start the right business for you, what might be your competitive advantage, and what steps you can take on your own. If we find that we are a mutual match to collaborate, I’ll also share how I can support you and guide you in your entrepreneurial journey.
So go ahead. You have nothing to lose by booking a time for a free video call to discuss your competitive advantage as a potential business owner.
Don’t wait. I have a few spots left this month for free strategy consultations.
Once you book a time, you’ll receive a link to my Zoom meeting room and we’ll have 30 to 45 minutes discussion of your competitive advantage and your options as a business owner.
And if we haven’t met yet I’m Patricia Bottero St-Jean, I am a Start-a-Business Coach at OPEN FOR BUSINESS, which is a business research lab and a coaching agency.
I’m here to support you, in your research, in vetting, in planning, and launching the right business for you so that you can start it on a rock-solid foundation, so that you can succeed faster… and build a life you love sooner.