in Entrepreneurship

If you are an entrepreneur, you have more business ideas than you will ever be able to execute. How can you choose ideas that will help you succeed?

There is no guarantee that your best efforts to start a business or create a product will reach thousands, or that you’ll make millions. Yet there are thousands of “make money online” websites and books that hold out the hope that you will make large amounts of money with very little effort.

The get-rich-quick mentality encourages “me-too” businesses that are “proven” to make money. These “proven” money-makers usually have little to do with the gifts and interests of those who buy into them. There is a better way.

Money usually follows a significant investment of time and hard work. Do you know anyone who has succeeded in making more than a few dollars without hard work? I don’t. Since you will invest emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual energy in your business or product idea, it makes sense to choose to create something you love. Avoid being a “me-too” entrepreneur.

No More “Me-Too” Projects

There are several criteria I use to judge my own ideas: timeline, gifts and abilities, and monetization. I want to choose business ideas that I’ll love, and these criteria helped me choose well.

Timeline

Your timeline is an estimate of how long it will take for you to begin bringing in money from your business or product. I typically do not have much time to complete a project. Usually it’s a month or two. Choose projects that you can complete and launch quickly.

Gifts and Abilities

Know yourself and your gifts. Your business ventures let you express yourself as a unique creation of God. I ask myself how a particular project uses my gifts and helps those around me. If you don’t know where to begin discovering your gifts, consider reading StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger. If you are a Christian, also take a good spiritual gifts inventory like Discover Your Spiritual Gifts: Identify and Understand Your Unique God-Given Spiritual Gifts by C. Peter Wagner.

Monetization

Since it’s important to have financial resources, I also ask myself how I will make money from any project. I typically don’t start on my personal projects until I can see a path toward income.

Graphic background created with "Show me the money..." from OpenSource.com. Some Rights Reserved for that image.

Graphic background created with “Show me the money…” from OpenSource.com. Some Rights Reserved.

To recap, the questions I typically ask myself are:

  1. Can I complete it quickly enough with the amount of attention I can commit?
  2. Does this project express my personal gifts and the purpose of God for my life?
  3. Is there a path towards making money through this venture?

One word of caution: if you’re really confident about your answers to the first two questions, don’t throw something away just because you don’t immediately see how you’ll make money. If you think about your idea long enough, a path to monetization may emerge.

What questions do you ask yourself when you’re thinking about a new business or product idea? Share your advice by leaving a comment!