Question: I've been successful in sales for the past 13 years, but would like to have something to call my own; something that allows me to build a legacy for my family. So, I'd like to find a resource to guide me to the "right" business opportunity for me. What would you recommend as a starting point?
Centre Hall, Pennsylvania
Answer: Your sales experience gives you a head start in overcoming the main problem most start-up business owners have: getting enough customers. Being able to sell and feeling good about what you're selling can make your days more rewarding. Picking the right business is basically a matter of finding the best way to earn enough to leave a legacy for your family.
Creating a legacy traditionally meant starting a business, like a family farm or a retail store, that could be passed down from generation to generation. But the fast, technology-driven pace of change makes it tougher to pick a business that's apt to be passed on. There are "evergreen" businesses like cleaning services, hauling services and tax preparation, but you can't predict your childrens' interest in those fields.
Whether or not your children continue the business, the best bet is to be so financially successful that they'll have choices about what they do with their lives. Choose a business that passes these tests: 1) the What's In It For Me, the WIIFM test (what you'll enjoy doing), and 2) the What People Will Pay For, the WPWPF test (what you can offer that people will be eager to buy).
Our books can help. Finding Your Perfect Work(Tarcher) takes you through a process of pinpointing your ideal business and has an appendix that lists more than 1,500 self-employment careers. For people who want specific information about particular businesses, Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century(Tarcher) provides the pros and cons, potential earnings, knowledge and skills needed, pricing, resources and ways to get customers for more than 100 businesses. For those who'd rather build on an existing business (franchises, network marketing and business opportunities) rather than start one from scratch, we suggest Home Businesses You Can Buy(Tarcher). Also, visit "Franchise Zone."
Small-business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards' latest book is The Practical Dreamer's Handbook(Putnam Publishing Group). If you have a question regarding a start-up business issue, contact Paul and Sarah at www.workingfromhome.comor send it c/o Entrepreneur.