On the PiPS conference call today the broad subject was starting a business. As one of the topics was about deciding what that business might be I thought it might be a good subject for this week’s post?

There might be many reasons you would consider starting a business, a desire to set things in motion in your own style; a desire for autonomy; holding on to profits; freedom to set your own timetable of working – the list could be fairly extensive but one huge factor might be that in the current climate engaging and interesting jobs are a bit thin on the ground and of course the competition is fierce. So maybe it is time to think of employing yourself?

What might stop you could be a belief (wrongly) that you cannot do it. Setting up and running a business is hard work but it is practical and logical and with the right guidance you can have the potential to make a real success of it and well, employ yourself.

The biggest elephant in the room however is usually; “sounds like a plan but I do not have a clue what to set up a business in”. Yes, as we observed on the call, you can set yourself up as the ubiquitous consultant and hope for the best. Being a consultant is fine if you have a particular niche if not, you are in danger of looking like jack of all trades and master of none.

So how can you find the right niche for you where you will be able to flourish? Here are a few pointers that will get you thinking.

• Consider over the past few years the activities you have most enjoyed – when time just slipped by (and this will in this instance really need to be work related as time will slip by reading a good book but it is quite hard to make a living on that!)

• You might also consider the moments when you could have reflected – “this is good fun I am lucky to be paid for doing this when I am having such a good time”.

So if you are able to conjure up some, even vague, feeling there, consider next what was the dynamic that felt like such a good fit – was it the people? The challenge? The adrenalin? The fun?

And again when you have that – consider what that component might mean to you? So for me it was that I love the dynamic of working in groups – the energy and not knowing what will come up next – the speed of thought. For you it might the challenge of a puzzle, the light hearted or the serious environment. A case of knowing what components, when brought together, make your performance at its best.

Once you have clarity on that the ideas start to come through – admittedly you may not as yet know how to translate that into a business – but the knowing helps you to start looking in the right places.

Once ideas start to become clearer consider whether this is marketable, will anyone pay you to do this? Or alternatively is there already a saturated market? A busy market is not the end of the world but you will need to be considering what your USP (unique selling position/proposition) might be. How will you stand out from others?

Perhaps we can come back on that but for now start to consider how your talents and interests will be saleable. Often the thing we find the easiest – “but it is so easy everyone must be able to do it” – is the key. Other people probably don’t find it easy and that might just be where your idea lies.

This is all quite manageable but admittedly takes some concentration; if you want some help to get yourself some clarity – you know where we are.