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How to Find a Business Idea That’s Actually Worth Pursuing

There are many great business ideas out there, but how do you find the right one for you?

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It’s hard enough to get up the courage to start a business, but that’s only the beginning. Now you need to decide what business to start, and it’s not as simple as doing what seems obvious. For example, a friend of mine learned how to design websites while he was in college. When he decided to start a business, he figured, “I know how to design websites, I guess I’ll start a website design business.” Others have started certain types of businesses because of a hobby, because they heard it was a good way to make money or because someone else dragged them into it.

Sometimes these decisions work out, but often they don’t, and that’s a shame — because if you start a business, it’s likely to consume several years of your life. Asking the following questions can help you make sure you’re starting the right business for you:

What’s my objective?

Why do you want to start a business? It seems like a simple question, but if you ask different entrepreneurs you’ll get different answers, at least you will if you dig deep enough. Most entrepreneurs will say they want to make the world a better place or make money, but many entrepreneurs use their businesses as a laboratory to experiment and learn, others are driven by a psychological need, and yet others are trying to please someone else. What’s motivating you?

In his book, The Founder’s Dilemmas, Noam T. Wasserman, dean of the Yeshiva University Sy Syms School of Business and former professor of clinical entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California, divided founding entrepreneurs into two types based on their objectives. One type of founder wants money, while the other wants control. It’s a useful exercise to figure out which type you are and how that aligns with your other motivations.

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