If you’re wondering why else you might possibly go into business, entrepreneurship may not be for you.
Just visit a business-oriented online forum like Quora or LinkedIn, and you’ll find young people and second-career-hopefuls alike asking questions like, “What’s the best field to build a profitable business in?” or “How can I make $X in business within the next ten years?”
Almost universally, successful entrepreneurs answer these questions with some version of, ‘You’re asking the wrong question.”
Successful businesses are born of a combination of characteristics that have nothing to do with figuring out how to make a lot of money in a prescribed period of time. The true entrepreneur—the one with the greatest chance for success—are motivated by something more than profits.
Passion and Curiosity
You don’t have to look far for examples of successful entrepreneurs who simply followed their own passions, curiosity, inspiration or intellectual challenges and turned that drive into a pathway to profits.
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were all deeply engaged in computer technology and in taking the possibilities of that technology to the next level long before those efforts turned into a business venture. Mark Zuckerberg put the first iteration of Facebook out into the world for free. These are just some of the most obvious and widely acknowledged examples: the similar (though perhaps less dramatic) stories are virtually endless.
Of course, not all successful entrepreneurs stumbled upon the path to financial success while pursuing a passion or satisfying their own curiosity. Many have set out to solve perceived problems.
Sometimes, that begins with an eye toward a new business venture: an entrepreneur may notice a gap in available products or services or a persistent problem in an industry and sets out to offer a solution. In other cases, a professional may simply set out to solve her own problem, but quickly realize that the solution she’s developed would be valuable to others in her industry.
There’s No One Right Approach
Since successful entrepreneurship depends on bringing your own passions, your own talents and your own ideas to life, there’s no quick reference guide to the right process or the right type of business to pursue. The bottom line is that if you’re indifferent to the content and simply seeking out an idea that will allow you to build a successful business, you’re facing an uphill battle. If you think about what you know, what you care about and what you have to offer in those areas that will truly make a difference, you’ll be more likely to identify a niche where you can truly be competitive.