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Entrepreneurship: A Three Legged Stool

three legged stoolby Karman Briggs
Director of Jobs & Business Development
Western Dairyland Women's Business Center

A satisfying and successful entrepreneurial pursuit is like taking a seat on a simple, three-legged stool. For stability and for your business idea to be sustainable, all three legs need to be securely in place.

  1. Identify what you like to do. You may be great at mowing lawns and have neighbors who would pay you. But, if you hate the smell of fresh cut grass, it won't work.
  2. Identify what you are good at doing. You may like book keeping. It is a service for which people readily pay. But, if you don't know how to use accounting software, you will struggle to succeed.
  3. Identify what people will pay you to do. You may like to play video games and be very good at it, but very few people will actually pay you to play video games.

First, identifying what you like to do is usually not a problem. You already have a few ideas. Start making a list of every activity you honestly like to do - no matter how ridiculous. Crossword puzzles? Spelunking? Puppetry? Go wild! Nothing is wrong or too far "out there" when you are brainstorming.

Next, identifying what you are good at doing can be a little harder. It requires some self awareness and possibly the help of some brutally honest friends. What activities have brought you accolades, celebration, recognition or appreciation? Where do you tend to excel?  What do you just do better than the average person? Fashion? Writing? Cat massage? Make a list!

Out of the three legs of the entrepreneurial stool, this leg is the easiest potential deficit to shore up with simple education or work experience. If necessary, you may need to look at what you can do today that will progress you closer to your ultimate goal. For example, if you would like to own your own coffee shop but have no experience, start by taking a job that will train you to be a barista and teach you retail and customer service skills.

Finally, identify what people will pay you to do. Is your product or service something that people typically pay for? If so, who and how much? Basically, is there a market or customer base for your product or service? Performing market research can be as simple as polling your neighbors or it can require a much more sophisticated approach with access to industry trends and a competitive analysis. Seek out a local economic or business development specialist, such as those at the Western Dairyland Women's Business Center for help if you get stuck.

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