Welcome to the third edition of my Weekly Journal! Thank you so much for all the positive feedback on the first two editions. I'm so happy it's been good food for thought. If you're new here, I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's edition is for the aspiring business owner who doesn't know where to begin. Many of you have told me, "I don't like my current career and I want to start my own business, but I don't know what business to start." Does this sound familiar? I'll tell you how I found jewelry when I was practicing law, and then I'll give you some ideas of how you might find YOUR perfect business. I've come up with 8 ideas to explore and think about.
Let me share how I found my passion first. Last year around this time, I wrote about how I stumbled into jewelry. You can read the full story here, but I'll give you the quick 30 second version. It's pretty amazing how it all happened! During a vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2008, I came across a handmade jewelry store that had such great energy about it. The pieces were unique and affordable, and the music playing in the background was fun and upbeat. The shop owner and I had the same first name and we both grew up in the same part of the country. This store made a huge impression on me for some reason. Later that day, I remember saying to my friend, "I'm going to open a store like that back home." (Note: I was extremely unhappy in my legal job and had been thinking about alternative careers for a year or two). At the time I said this, I didn't even know how to make jewelry. But fast forward 14 months, and I had not only taught myself how to make jewelry but opened my very first jewelry business. That first business ultimately failed, but I learned so much and I consider it a crucial part of my journey. Without it, I'm positive grace + hudson would not be a successful business today. I draw on that experience all the time - the knowledge I gained from the mistakes I made is virtually priceless.
As you can see, jewelry came to me in a very random, very divinely orchestrated way. I didn't do anything to get it - it found me. Of course, I had to have an open mind and listen to the little tugs at my heart that this Caribbean jewelry store set in motion. Maybe something similar has happened to you. Or maybe you've dreamed about opening a certain type of business since age 10. Or maybe not. If you're still searching for your passion - something you can turn into a business - here are some ideas to explore and think about:
First, don't try so hard to find it! Chances are, your best idea for a business is either going to come to you spontaneously (like jewelry for me) or you've already thought about it a million times before. But if that's not the case, below are some ideas to explore and questions to think about.
Second, pay attention to what you're curious about:
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
- What do you Google about in your free time (how to bake a wedding cake? how to take photographs on a real camera? how to become a professor at a college? you get the idea...)
- What would you do for work if you could live anywhere in the world and not have to worry about money? Open a bar on a Caribbean island? Travel the world and teach English to children in under-developed countries? Design dresses that are modeled on the runways in Paris?
There are really big hints in your answers to these questions. These are breadcrumbs on the trail to your business idea. I find it so incredibly interesting that we each have very unique answers to these questions, don't you? We are all born with gifts, talents, and interests as varied as the stars in the sky. Some people dream of opening a bed and breakfast. Some people would rather die than run a B&B, and their dream is to open a dog grooming business. Still others want to open their own consulting business on social media marketing. What would the world look like if we were all using the talents we have? It would be a lot happier! And oddly enough, I think all of the services and products we need would be provided for by the people who have the most passion for them. Instead, we are taught to pursue the job that pays the most, and we wonder why our world is an unhappy mess.
Third, open your heart, open your ears, and be receptive to the messages that are heading your way. That idea for a business you can't get out of your head? It's sticking with you for a reason. The chance encounter with a business owner on vacation that sparks a big idea in you? Explore that - don't let it fade and die. The idea you came up with years ago that your friends keep telling you to pursue? Listen to them (trust me, people are quick to tell you when you're idea is a dumb one!).
Fourth, when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Think back to when you were a child and how you answered this question. There may be rich hints in your answer.
Fifth, ask your friends and close family members what they think you would do for work if money was not a factor. They might say something obvious that you totally overlooked!
Sixth, take career quizzes online. I know there are some pretty elaborate quizzes online that'll take into account your personality traits and interests and come up with some career ideas. Take the results with a grain of salt, but maybe they'll shed light on your talents and skills and a business idea you didn't think about before.
Seventh, talk to a career counselor. If you're really feeling stuck and paralyzed, it might be money well spent to meet with a career counselor. I have never personally done this, but they're trained to help you identify your greatest talents and skills. This can be very valuable information on your path to finding a business idea.
Eighth, what needs and desires does your work need to fulfill? This is a great starting point for identifying possible business ideas. Do you need to feel creative? Do you need to feel mentally stimulated all day long? Do you need to feel like you made the world a better place today? If you need to feel like you made the world a better place each day then owning, say, a car valet business is probably not going to be the right path for you. If you need to feel mentally stimulated all day long, owning a bakery might not be the best fit because you'll bake hundreds of the same exact pastries all week long. If you need to feel artsy and creative, owning your own law firm is not a good option.
I hope through exploring these questions you'll stumble upon some business ideas worth exploring.
There's one final idea to consider: don't let the fear of starting a business disguise itself as "I don't know what business to start." Starting a business is HARD and your mind will come up with fancy ways to deter or distract you. Have you ever heard of analysis paralysis? It's when you can't make any progress forward because you stay stuck in the phase of analyzing which way to go. You can mull over which business to start for years and years and years, or you can begin the real work of identifying a business idea that might suit you (chances are, you already have an inkling of what you'd like to do) and start making progress towards the goal of opening your own business. Just start somewhere - go on Etsy and find someone to design a logo for $10, sketch out what your website menu tabs might look like, doodle a price list for the services you'll provide. There are at least 1,000 things you can do to work towards your goal of opening a business before any real money or time commitment is required. So try some things out. Explore. Through the exploring, you might hit on the exact right business plan.
Cheers to exploring possible business ideas!