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Getting Into the Game

These three tactics can help you decide what type of business would work best for you.

Let's say you've decided to start your own business, either for the first time or to change direction from the business you currently own. How do you find a new product or service, recognizing that 80 percent or more of products and services will be new or different in five years? Here are a series of approaches that have been used by successful entrepreneurs over the years to help them decide what type of business to launch.

1. Start with yourself. Begin with your own talents, your own abilities, your experience, knowledge, interests, background, education and so on.

Look carefully at your current position and the current company you work for or, conversely, at your current business and the current product or service you sell. Look within your own life and work, under your own feet, for your own "acres of diamonds."

Here's a question: What qualities do you have that account for your greatest successes in life so far? What personal skills and abilities have gotten you to where you are today? How could you apply those same skills and abilities to starting and building a new business?

If you already have a company, what are the special talents, abilities, experiences, knowledge and background of your business today? What qualities, talents and skills have enabled your company to succeed? What are the things you do best? What are the greatest opportunities within your business right now?

Many fortunes begin when an individual sees a customer need that is not being satisfied and which their current company has no interest or desire in satisfying. Often it comes as the result of customer inquiries or complaints. So the individual decides he'll start a new business, sometimes on the side, to give these customers what they're asking for. It could be Tom Fatjo, who's made millions in the waste management industry, picking up garbage in his community after hours, or Ross Perot taking over the data processing activities of large organizations like IBM. Sometimes there is a great business opportunity staring you in the face, right where you are today.

2. What can you get excited about? Look for a product or service about which you can really become enthusiastic. Sometimes people become wealthy by translating or transforming their hobbies into a business. Pierre Omydar collected Pez dispensers as a hobby. In an attempt to find a market for his collection of Pez dispensers, he started a little Internet business that's grown into eBay, with 95 million customers worldwide.

You'll always be most successful doing something or marketing something that you really love and care about. Every product or service-and business-must have a champion. This is someone who believes intensely in the goodness and value of the product or service for the customer. Every product or service must have someone in the business who really loves the product or service and is eager to get out and tell other people about it. This enthusiasm should start with you.

3. What can you improve on? Look for something that's an improvement to an existing product or service rather than something brand new. Look for something that's cheaper or of better quality. Look for something that has additional features or functions that current products don't offer.

Improving an existing, successful product or service is the fastest, surest way to build a successful business. An idea only needs to be 10 percent newer and better to capture substantial market share, and selling updated versions of common, popular products is a safe way to start into business. Selling brand new products, for which there is no demonstrated market, is very risky.

For almost 100 years, companies have been manufacturing and selling donuts, and there are thousands of donut shops successfully doing business all over the country. Then, a few years ago, a new company, Krispy Kreme, entered the market, offering a type of donut that was only slightly superior to what other donut companies that had been in business for decades were offering.

Within a few years, Krispy Kreme had swept the country. The average sales per square foot of a Krispy Kreme donut franchise is 500 percent greater than that of almost any other donut shop or fast-food franchise in the country. A small difference in quality and presentation has translated into an enormous difference in financial results. Where might this be possible for you?

These then are three keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur: start with your own talents and abilities, do something you can get excited about, and look for ways to improve on an existing business.

But the most important part is for you to get started, take action and dare to move forward. There are no limits except those you place on your own mind. Go for it!

Brian Tracy is the "Success Secrets" coach at Entrepreneur.comand one of America's leading authoritieson entrepreneurial development. He's produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs that cover the entire spectrum of human and corporate performance through his company, Brian Tracy International.

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