From the August 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Q: How should I go about starting a business in a field that is completely new to me? I have no experience, contacts, training or education.

Name withheld

A: While education, training, experience and contacts account for the way most people choose the jobs they do and the businesses they run, none of these is as important as the drive to do something that inspires you enough to want to get up in the morning and do it.

First you should ask yourself if you're really motivated to pursue your idea at a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. If you're sure the idea is worth pursuing, try these tips for investigating it more thoroughly:

  • If there are books about your field or the problem your business idea would address, read them.
  • Take related community college courses. Additional training, including advanced degrees, is available online.
  • Join any related trade or professional associations. They will likely have Web sites, which you can find using search engines or by referencing the Encyclopedia of Associations, available at most libraries.
  • Talk with others in related businesses and consider working for or apprenticing with them.

Although gaining the knowledge, experience and contacts you need may take six months or more, if you follow through on learning all you can about the business, there's a good chance you'll have the perseverance that's necessary to succeed in a new field.


Paul and Sarah Edwards' most recent book is The Entrepreneurial Parent. Send them your start-up business questions at www.workingfromhome.com or in care of Entrepreneur.