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The First Question Entrepreneurs Must Ask

questionYou are the entrepreneur of a very important enterprise – your life. Entrepreneuring your life is a process. It’s a journey to a destination.

You design the life you want and find your path to get there. A good opportunity is the vehicle to take you down that path. Entrepreneurs know that a good opportunity provides a reasonable return for the risk assumed.

A lot of people are surprised at the first return the entrepreneur must worry about. So many prospective entrepreneurs ask the wrong question when looking for an opportunity.



This involves a business, but you could apply the same thinking to a career. The wrong question to ask first is:

How do I make money?

The question you should ask is:

What problem can I solve?

If you find enough people who have a problem and the money to spend to correct it, you may have found your opportunity.

The first return is societal

So the first win for an entrepreneur is actually a win for his or her customers. You won’t be successful if you don’t solve a problem for enough people.

It’s a societal return. A group of people, the entrepreneur’s customers, get a problem solved. The first return that entrepreneurs create is a return for others.

An attractive vision

This first return is what helps entrepreneurs with another group of essential stakeholders. We saw a great article awhile back over at the Harvard Business blog. Stew Friedman said, “Serve others and others will want to serve you.”

We love it!

He’s talking about leadership in general, not just entrepreneurs. He says that people who talk about their own achievement don’t inspire action in others.

Action is inspired by talking about how you are helping others. So the lesson here for us entrepreneurs is this:

If you want to attract an inspired group of people to work with you on your vision, talk about how you’re helping others.

People want to feel like they’re part of something bigger – bigger than them, bigger than the company. They want to feel like they are making a difference in people’s lives.

As an entrepreneur, you must communicate how your organization does that – how do you make a difference in people’s lives? When you do that successfully, your employees will become more engaged in the success of your business. That’s bigg success!


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Thank you so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we ask, “Is change really dead?” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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I Have An Idea For A Business! Now What?


Bigg Challenge
One of our listeners, David, e-mailed us because he has an idea for a business, but doesn’t know what to do next. He wants some direction to get started.

Bigg Advice
Congratulations, David! You have a good IDEA. Now you need to know if it’s a good opportunity. Answer these four questions:

#1 – Is there a market?
Are there enough buyers? Here are a few of the many ways to know:

  • Check with relevant trade associations.
  • Talk to business owners who won’t be your competitors.
  • Conduct surveys – on the street, via phone, through e-mail.

Keep in mind that you’ll never know for sure – what people SAY they will do isn’t necessarily what they WILL do.

Some markets are too bigg. Others are too small. You want one that’s just right! Bigg markets attract bigg competitors. They’re tough to compete against. Small markets may not offer enough opportunity. You’ll waste resources for very little upside.

#2 – Is the market accessible?
Can you reach your prospects? The best idea in the world is no good if you can’t access your prospects. Here are few examples:

  • Publications they regularly read
  • Internet sites they visit frequently
  • Search terms they use
  • Specialty stores where they shop

#3 – Who’s your competition?
Prospective entrepreneurs often think that they won’t have any competition. Well, everybody has competition. If you think you don’t, think again.

A simple example

Let’s say you want to start a carpet cleaning business. Obviously, you can look online or in the phone book to identify your competitors.

But one competitor isn’t so obvious. A number of people go to the store, rent the equipment, and do it themselves. They are competitors, too.

Another thing to think about is substitutions. Every time one of your potential customers replaces their carpet with hardwood floors or tile, they don’t need you!

How bigg are your competitors? Ideally, the industry is highly fragmented with a lot of little companies. If it is dominated by one or two major players, you’ll need to compete around them.

#4 – Will it provide a sufficient return?
Estimate how much money you can make. Divide that by how much money it will take to start. That’s your return.  

Where to find the numbers

Say you want to start a retail store. Here are four ways to get numbers:

#1 – Publications that gather industry data (available at your local library).

#2 – Public companies in a similar industry

#3 – Franchises with a related concept

#4 – Business owners in non-competing markets

Your return has to be enough, given all the other opportunities, to justify the investment. Otherwise, you won’t attract the capital you need.

Thanks, David for sharing your bigg challenge. We hope this helps you get started!

What's your bigg challenge? E-mail us:

Our bigg quote today is by Tim Blixseth.

“Many great ideas go unexecuted, and many great executioners
are without ideas. One without the other is worthless.”

You’ll discover new worlds if you explore your ideas, map your course, and then set sail!

Next time, we’ll discuss the most important person at whom you should laugh. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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(Image by alforque,CC 2.0)