Define your product and/or service: Make the transition from desktop daydreamer to small business owner

Define your product and/or service: Make the transition from desktop daydreamer to small business owner

Photo of samples on shelf, example of how to define your product. Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash

If you’ve ever worked for someone else, you’ve probably had a moment when you thought: “I could make this business better, the product more appealing, and the service even more beneficial to the customers.”

Usually it’s after your boss makes a questionable decision or yet another memo comes down from corporate headquarters announcing the next breakthrough initiative or organizational change.

In fact, desktop daydreaming is commonplace. According to University of Phoenix, 39 percent of U.S. employees hope to someday own their own business. But what separates those who dream from those who do is the realization and belief that they can do it themselves—and do it better—whether it’s managing a client’s payroll and accounts, repairing clients’ homes or vehicles, or serving the best desserts in town.

Know what you do well, and know what you like
What you’re good at it may be what you’re getting paid to do right now. Or not. We all need to pay the bills and put food on the table. But if you’re starting a business it needs to be about more than just earning a paycheck. It has to come not from something you like but from something you love. Something that lights a fire within you. And something you do well. So what is it? Maybe IT consulting or web design. Maybe construction or farming. Maybe caring for others. What is the first thing you choose to do in your free time? What is the last thing you want to be taken away from when you’re doing it? Once you have a concept, it’s time to figure out how to make it go.

Choosing your product or service is one of the most important decisions, if not the single most important decision, you will make when planning your small business. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to ensure you get it right:

  • What problem will my product or service alleviate?
  • Who is already doing it?
  • Is there a gap in the marketplace my business could fill?
  • If there are competitors, who are they? What are they doing well? What could I do better?

You cannot just start a business because you want to start a business. At least not if you want to start a successful business. You have to have a simple but solid idea for a product or service that people already know they need and are getting somewhere else. Or if it is new idea, you have to prove it is needed and then provide it at a reasonable cost.