Finding Your Business Idea:
Taking the Short Cut at the Intersection of What & Who

Knowing What you want to do is one part of creating your business.

Identifying Who you want to serve, and figuring out your Where, When, Why and How are also crucial to your success.

These are the same ‘5 Ws’ we learned back in English class. The keys to write a news article just like a reporter would, with all the information someone would need to attend an event, understand the significance of a story, or learn the truth about a national or local policy or crisis.

The same thoughtfulness is needed when you investigate what products you want to sell, and/or which services you want to provide. 

When you’re deciding the kind of business you want to create and Why it matters to you.

While getting in touch with what you want to do helps you clarify your business idea and vision, your goals, and much of the momentum to move forward, odds are you’re equally clear about what you don’t want to do.

What you don’t enjoy doing. Who you don’t enjoy doing it for – or with. 

You’re also highly likely to have strong ideas about Where you don’t want to work or When: the times of day or days of the week you don’t want to be obligated to customers or business commitments.

Knowing what you do want to do — and don’t — achieves the same result as the barriers on the highway that gradually narrow the lanes available to travel in, and ‘herd’ you into making a series of decisions that end up with you and all the other drivers moving ahead with your cars into just one lane.

Here’s an easy planning exercise to start getting these business ideas out of your head, and where you can see the patterns and connections your thoughts might be making.

Get a sheet of paper, draw three vertical lines down the page, giving you three columns.

On the left side write ‘What I Want’ as the column header.

Label the right column, ‘What I Don’t Want’ as a column header.

For the middle column, just write ‘I’m Not Sure’ and provide yourself with empty space to fill in later on.

The left and right columns are based on your life experiences, gut feelings, and sense of self.

Becoming aware of these feelings and facts, and how they affect your business planning and thoughts for the future, is one of the most important things you can do.

Because when you identify what you want as well as what you don’t want, you rule things in, and rule things out.

You make decisions.

And you’ve actually made a lot of them already, even if you hadn’t thought of them as ‘decisions.’

But here’s the thing. You will probably find you have a lot of white space in the middle.

And I admit, that’s a space where you will ultimately have to spend a lot of time. 

Because that column ‘in the middle’ will be filled with all the stuff you still have to figure out. 

Like the market research you need to conduct about your business ideas, or the deliberate networking that will support you; the people you need to meet, and what you need to learn more about.

Game shows let you Call a Friend, or Poll the Audience when you don’t know the answer, and you can do that here, too.

The white space in the middle is an area where intuition may guide you if you listen closely — after you’ve gotten clear about the other two columns.

You don’t need a lot of high priced consultants or online programs to help you do this part, because it’s all about you and — most importantly — requires information only you have about yourself.

Odds are you’ll need multiple sheets of paper and will complete this activity over a period of time.  Spending several days and even weeks on it wouldn’t be surprising.

Beginning a journal or notebook to explore your new business and devoting a few pages to the project would be a good choice since it would allow you to keep all your business ideas, planning thoughts and research in one place.

I’ve even prepared a worksheet you’re welcome to download below.

When you’re creating a new business, you should expect it will be a big part of the next phase of your life. 

So getting clear on what you want and don’t want is definitely worth your time.

Don’t worry about all that white space in the middle just yet.

You’ll fill it in over time.  And we’ll take a look at how to fill it in later.

But getting clear about what’s in your left and right columns may reduce the Space In Between, or the time you need to spend there as you explore your business idea.

So what do you think? 

Time to get started!

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