Ask the experts: Which small business best fits you?

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverSeptember 1, 2013 

— Before starting a company, entrepreneurs often ask, “What’s the best business to start today?”

Mike Collins, author, entrepreneur and president of Raleigh-based The Perfect Workday Company, gives seminars based on this topic at North Carolina’s small business centers.

Usually, Collins said, audience members for his “best businesses” talk expect quick answers: “ ‘Give me a list of what’s going to be hot.’ ”

“The problem with that is if you’re in Charlotte, the list is going to look one way,” Collins said. “If you’re somewhere 30 miles away from an interstate highway, that list looks different.”

Rather than presenting a catalog of choices, Collins helps participants figure out their own right fit. Here’s his advice:

• Make ‘parachute’ lists: In an exercise inspired by Richard Bolles’s job-hunting book, “What Color is Your Parachute?” Collins advises making four lists. One shows every job held since high school; the others outline skills learned, job likes and job dislikes.

“ ‘What can I get into using as many of these skills as possible?’ … It gives people a guideline.”

• Research options: Collins points people to Small Business Opportunities magazine for ideas on how their skills match certain fields.

Once people develop a better idea of what businesses might click, Collins advises joining the trade association. “They’ll get you in touch with people who are already doing the business. That is crucial.”

• Pay attention to trends: Collins focuses on the necessities – such as food and clothing – for hints of which small businesses can thrive around these basics.

“There are tons of opportunities out there,” Collins said. “But you’ve got to keep your eyes open.”

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