How to Choose the Right Product to Sell

sept-21-2016_my-first-product-blog-imageChoosing the type of product to sell is the hardest decision you will make on your road to product entrepreneurship. The two most important things that I can tell you about choosing a product is to pick a product type that you know and love. If you pick a product that you know and like, it will be easier to provide great customer service with you are faced with questions about your product.

“Consider your job and hobbies when searching for a product or product idea.”

Pick a Product that You Know

When you start to develop your first product it is advisable to choose something with which you have familiarity or something that solves a problem that you have in your own life. If you are a florist but decide to open a fine-dining hamburger restaurant, you may have trouble because you do not know enough about hamburgers or fine-dining restaurants. You may love to eat hamburgers but that does not mean that you know enough to be successful. Conversely, if you develop a new, partitioned flower vase that helps homeowners create beautiful arrangements with their garden flowers you may enjoy enormous success.

When you are trying to decide on a product business, make a list of all of the possibilities based on the things that you know how to do. Many of you reading this may be thinking, “I hate my job and I want as far away from it as possible!” I will tell you a secret. I thought that too. I worked for an environmental consulting firm and my boss was very difficult. I decided to open an online flower business because I liked flowers and it had nothing to do with geology. The problem was that while I love flowers, I know nothing about them! How I thought I could run a business selling flower arrangements and educate people on the different types of flowers when all I really knew was what roses and tulips looked like, I will never know! My biggest problem with the flower business was not that I did not like the flowers; it was that the learning curve for me to grasp everything that I would need to know about flowers to successfully run the business was too steep. I like flowers but not THAT much. What a nightmare!

But, I was so annoyed with my then current supervisor that I let that frustration push me in a bad direction. Then one day, my husband asked me “What is it you like about geology? There must be something or you would not have earned a Master’s degree.” He was right.  I had both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in geology so obviously it appealed to me. I found myself telling him that I like the rocks and minerals themselves. That was the rocks and minerals and how they formed that I liked and that is where my final business idea came from.

To find your best product idea, take a notebook and make a table like the one below. It can be as long as you like. Make a list of all of the possible products that you could develop for your business. Start your list with things you know and add products that could solve a particular problem that you have in your life. If you already have a clear direction for your product then you are in a great position. If you do not, the sky is the limit so starting making that list.

Brainstorm Product Ideas

Use this chart to list your areas of expertise and the different products that you could develop. If you already have one product in mind, think of complementary products that you can use to produce a full line of goods for sale.

sept-21-2016-chart_2

My chosen product is:

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To Be or Not to Be an Entrepreneur

Be an EntrepreneurIt seems that today everyone wants to start a business either to earn more money, have more freedom or a combination of both. I started my businesses so that I could work from home and spend more time with my children.  It works for me because I am self-motivated enough that I can sit in my house and work, run over to the school, pick kids up, drop kids off and then return back home and continue to work while ignoring the mountain of laundry and dishes that need attention. Of course, that could mean that I really dislike housework, too!

During the past few years, I have met many other business owners who all have interesting stories about how and why they started their businesses and the unique companies that they run. Everyone has different experiences but the one thing that I noticed is that they all have is the ability to self-motivate. To build your own business you have to be willing to sacrifice a little sleep, a little money and some fun time.

If you are still undecided about taking the plunge, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can I stay up late and give up some sleep?
  2. Can I make myself work when I do not feel well?
  3. Can I make myself work when I do not want to and would rather be watching television?
  4. Am I willing to take risks, both personally and financially?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, then you are not ready to make the decision to forge ahead with your business venture. However, if you answered yes…let’s go!

Yes, I’m Ready to Get Started

Yay! Now that you decided to start your business you may be unsure where to begin.  I think the question people ask me most is “How did you start?” Honestly, I tried a few different products before I found the one that fit my experience and personality the best.

You should fully expect that you will make some mistakes along the way. Mistakes are okay because you can always try again, change your course and learn a better way of running your business or develop a better product to offer. But the absolute BEST THING you can do now is get started.

But I Can’t Quit My Day Job

If you cannot quit your current job and start something new without the guarantee of a paycheck you are not alone. Many of us, like me, start our businesses while still working either part time or full time at a traditional job. Depending on the type of business you start, this can be a great option for you. However, if your business is going to be in direct competition with your current employer, then you should not start your business while you are still working.  If your new business is in a different field than your current employer then you may be able to get your business off the ground while you keep your traditional job.  Check with your human resources department to see if starting your business while working part-time or full-time is within your company’s rules.

Remember that having what it takes to run a business does not mean that you have to know how to do everything before you begin. All you need is the desire to either learn how to get it done by yourself or by hiring other professionals to help you.

What is My First Step?

The very first action that you should take is to brainstorm what type of business you will start. I sell products so first, I had to decide what type of product I wanted to sell. I ended up choosing a product that I could design and create on my own that used my background in geology. I make rock and mineral kits and write educational books for students and teachers. What is your background? What product could you sell? Make a list of at least 20 product ideas. That is step one.

Need help?

If you are struggling with figuring out what to sell, tell us about your background in the comments and maybe we can brainstorm some ideas together.

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