c05 JWBT144/Gordon September 16, 2009 12:10 Printer Name: Courier Westford, Westford, MA
Do you relate to a consumer business, interacting directly with the
end user, or would you relate better to being a supplier of goods and
services to other businesses?
What about a socially conscious business, giving you the opportunity
to do good for the world and do well financially at the same time?
Would this be a full-time or part-time activity? You could start slowly,
on evenings and weekends, and let the business find its own trajectory.
Do you envision growing a smaller lifestyle business or a high-
potential company?
Are you interested in having partners or going it alone?
Is there a specific market that you can penetrate readily?
Ultimately, shouldn’t you focus primarily on your potential customers
first and yourself second? How can you add unique value for your cus-
tomers, satisfy their needs, and differentiate your products or services
from your competitors’?
Are there more creative questions that might lead you to the best fit
between you and your idea? This is an ideal topic for a brainstorming
session with your friends.
Three Entrepreneurs in Search of Fit
Stephen was anxious to be in his own company, one close to where he lived. He
became excited when he realized there were no fish supply stores in the area,
and he began to pursue this idea. He borrowed money from family and friends
and tapped his own personal finances and credit cards, for a total of $18,000.
He found a location, signed a lease, and stocked the store with tanks, supplies,
accessories, and exotic fish of all kinds, and then he opened the doors for
business. Stephen was feeling really exhilarated. One year later, his business
had to close due to lack of customers. Break-even sales were not even in sight
(see Chapter 16). By the time he had extricated himself, his losses amounted
to almost $18,000.
What went wrong? For starters, Stephen knew little about the fish business.
He had never even owned a fish tank; it was not a hobby or a passion of his.
Exotic fish are difficult to care for, and many died because of his lack of
knowledge. There may or may not have been a local need. He didn’t really
know. In any case, customers were quite dissatisfied when they could not get
thorough answers to their questions. What would you have done differently?

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