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This month, I was thinking about what it means to be an entrepreneur vs. a business owner. Many people may not see the difference, but it’s actually quite substantial. As I wrote in my recent blog post, entrepreneurs solve problems. However, business owners who are not entrepreneurs may not want to solve a problem. Instead, they may have a skill or product to sell. Since I wrote a post about how entrepreneurs can identify a problem and solution, I decided it would only be fair to teach future business owners how to discover the kind of business they want to run.

Step 1: What’s your talent?

We all have talents. Some of us are good at coding, while others can bake better than anyone they know. The first step to starting your own business is to determine what you are good at. Chances are, there will be several things you are very good at, and that is fine. We will refine the list in…

Step 2: What stands out?

Although you are probably good at many things, there is likely a particular skill that stands out to you. Maybe it comes naturally, or you’ve studied and practiced it for so long that you’re practically an expert at it. Usually, these skills are either hobbies (such as knitting or playing an instrument), or they are a skill (machining and writing, for example). No matter what your skill is, you can almost certainly turn it into a job, so write down even the most obscure skills that you are exceptional at.

Step 3: Brainstorm business ideas.

Let’s use cooking as an example. If you can make an amazing steak, you may be tempted to open a steakhouse. However, plenty of other kinds of restaurants offer steak on their menu, from Japanese hibachi to high-end French. Any skill will likely have several uses, so be thorough with your brainstorming. You should have a list of at least 3 possible options, but many people will have lists that are much larger.

Step 4: Determine your dream.

Once you have your list of possibilities, you should take plenty of time to seriously consider what life would be like if you pursued each. Think about the sacrifices you’ll make, as well as the requirements of the position itself. You should also consider your competition, and whether or not you are willing and able to outperform them. If you run through the list and nothing pans out, that is fine. You may have chosen a skill to focus on that comes with more roadblocks than you initially thought. Start over at step 2 until you find something you believe you will be passionate about and that does not have any serious limitations.
Although entrepreneurs are often touted as being the rulers of business, small business owners also make up a large part of the market and should be commended for their hard work. Following the steps above will not lead you to solving a problem, but it will lead you toward a path where you can pursue a passion and make money from it.