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Top 10 Ways to Decide What Type of Startup is Right for You

If you're building a new business, heed the advice in this article from our startup expert.


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Before suggesting what type of business is right for you, I should say that there is no right or wrong here, and that there are exceptions for every rule. Many gems can be uncovered only after defying every rule in the book and the person who tells you "no you can't or won't." No one should discourage an entrepreneur who is guided by a vision. It is their journey, and no one should be myopic enough to stop them (unless they are recklessly putting loved ones at financial risk -- which is different because it's also irresponsible). So, in true entrepreneurial spirit, I encourage you to go after your ideas and hope this article will help you make some decisions along your journey.

1) Pursue a Passion

This is often overlooked but should not be. Creating a business out of a passion or a hobby will help you through the difficult times (and there will be tough times). Having an interest in a topic will leave you waking up, craving to work on your business, and pushing it forward. Also, you'll have a degree of expertise in the field and will have to do less on the job learning, not to mention that it might just be more fun that way.



2) No Tech Skills and Need to Pay Rent? You Can Still Start a Business

You might have to work on your business part time by yourself for a while, but it can still be very rewarding. In fact, some of the more fun businesses out there may be a good match for this scenario. You just have to be viewed it differently. You won't be the next Google, and that is OK because one person doesn't need to be. You can go after a small niche market of your choosing and focus on a business that does not require too much work or technical skills. A blog or a video blog are perfect examples. Just write and create content consistently in reasonable amounts about something you love. You'll learn more about the topic through research and get to interact with others with your interests. This type of a business can be built slowly, over time, and you can work on it as a fun side project while increasing the number of blog visitors and making a little money through ads or other easy monetization scenarios.

3) If You Do Have Tech Skills but Still Need to Pay Rent

You will still need to focus on a part-time model, but you are no longer limited to blogging and purely content-based ideas. As a simple example, there are plenty of what I call "brokering models" that you can pursue. For example, it might take a total of 100-200 total programming hours to put together a simple php site to bring together (broker) people in San Francisco who need college or high school level homework help with locals who can offer the help. Just don't go after something huge like selling computers or clothing because that space is too crowded and you will need to do a lot more marketing, programming and biz dev work to be successful at it than you have available to you. Pick a small niche and do a good job in it. If you do, you can grow in geographical scope or increase the number of homework topics, etc. Just remember, you have few resources, so think small, uncompetitive and easy.

Also, consider that if you are doing something part-time, you are much more free to choose business types that will blossom over time, and have an advantage over people who are working full-time because they have time pressure to succeed since that is usually their main source of income. While you probably would have a job, and can out-compete your competitors over time.

4) Are You a Techie Who Doesn't Understand 'Business?'

It happens. Sometimes people are just not cut out for some types of activities and are mature enough to admit it. It's OK. If you are in this category and don't want to think about SEO, SEM, biz dev, social media, etc, then you may be well off by partnering up with someone who like these things. Good candidates might be people who are already doing something that might fit into items #1 or #2 in this article because they already "get it" in terms of how to create a project from the ground up and may want to add more technical resources to their projects.

In this scenario, business models open up slightly, but so does the amount of work. There are now two or even three of you, which means you have to communicate, collaborate, meet, brain storm, and be a cohesive team, and write some legal documents to outline the contract of your collaboration. All this is in addition to actually creating the business. What does it spell out? You need to put more time into the project which implies that you may have to go more than part-time to full-time. Keep in mind, some business models that would have been able to financially support one person may not support a team, so you lose some of your options. Plus going full-time and quitting your regular job adds risk. If you are sane, you should be at least a little bit averse to risk and think twice, but if you are ok with it, #5 is for you.

5) A Balanced Team Working Full Time

This item is not about business models but rather considerations and good practices because at this point you are "all in." You have decided to find great partners and spend full-time pursuing your dream business which will make you happy and rich. Few considerations:
    * Expect to spend 2-3 years without much salary.
    * Don't hope for an investor to save you at the right time. They only save themselves.
    * Focus on building a business rather than aligning it to get investment. It will make your business stronger and more independent.
    * Be honest and choose only hard-working, talented and honest people for partners.
    * Don't spend too much money and don't choose anything too big or grand as your goal (this rarely works although when it does it gets lots of press, making it seem that it is more common that it works).


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