“I would be amazing at business. There is just one problem, I have no idea what kind of business to start.”

This surprisingly common perspective is shared by far more than just you. With no shortage of entrepreneurial options, we can all get trapped by the dreaded “paralysis by overanalysis”. Here are some thoughts on narrowing down or even discovering the field or business that would be best for you.

What have you done?

First, have a look at what you know and what you do. Think about the type of work that you currently do and what you’ve done in the past, and seriously consider whether the right industry for you is one that you are already very familiar with. Think about your job (and skills you’ve acquired in that job), your industry, and even what you know outside of work. Start with what you know.

Now I know what you are thinking: the reason you want to start a business might be to get away from your current job, to expand your skillset, to branch off into your passion. Let’s put a pin in that. Give yourself a head start in this imaginary business exercise. It can be difficult to start from scratch when building your business network, finding customers, sourcing suppliers, or learning a new trade. If you want to improve your chances of success, do what you know. Your business will have a 5-year head start.

What kind of work environment do you want?

You’re building your future here. So, what do you want it to look like? Do you want to be out meeting with people? Standing on a stage talking? Sitting behind a computer? Knowing the type of work environment you prefer will dramatically increase the likelihood that you will be good at your job and that you will enjoy it. It can be incredibly challenging when starting and building a business, so fundamentally enjoying what you do is important.

What opportunities are emerging in your field?

Business and industry are constantly changing and that can be scary. Chances are that the industry you’re thinking about launching in or currently work in is going to be disrupted in major and minor ways in the next couple of years. This is a huge opportunity!

What direction are things going in? Do you see any trends happening right now? Can you get in front of it and launch your business based on that? If nothing comes to mind, do some research. Google “<industry> trends” and see what comes up. Google “<job title> trends” and see where things are going. There are sites dedicated solely to tracking trends. My favourite is Trendhunter.com. Go to the site and click the magnifying glass, type in your industry and see what’s emerging around the world.

What do customers want?

One of my favourite reads is Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. It delves into market strategy and choosing the path less travelled (blue ocean) versus battling head to head with your competitors (red ocean – because it’s bloody. Get it?). Take a page from their book when you’re planning your business. Go out and talk with potential competitors and see what’s missing from the market. Is there anything that isn’t being offered that they are asking for? Is there a combination of services that would be more convenient? Is there a high/low end offering that people would be interested in getting that isn’t available? Talking openly with customers will make you reconsider everything and that’s a good thing.


My goal with this post is to get you thinking about new avenues of exploring your next great business idea. Whatever you do, shake the inactive trap that you’ve settled into and take action. Dip your toes into entrepreneurship, investigate a business opportunity, accept that you won’t know everything when you launch and accept that ignorance is probably a strength that will allow you to run through walls you didn’t even realize are there. When you run into trouble reach out to us. Business Link is around to help you demolish those walls with advice and market research support.