Gladys: I have been in the plumbing business for more than 25 years. My son just graduated from college and wants to start his own business. He is not interested in my business and claims that there are business ventures that he can get started in that would be interesting to him. And yet he doesn’t know what business he wants to get into. I want him to succeed in whatever he decides to do. What advice can I give him that will be beneficial? I have agreed to give him a little help financially, but I don’t have a lot of money for speculative ventures. Any kind of help you can give would be appreciated. Thank you — D. C.
Many successful entrepreneurs started out with minimal money to invest and often no experience. What they did have was an idea, along with commitment, determination and imagination that allowed them to turn their idea into a successful business.
You can start by talking to your son about how to identify a business that might work for him. There are basically three ways to make money in business: offer a service, create a product or sell your knowledge. Make a list of the things that fit under these categories.
Perhaps your son studied something in school that can lead him toward developing a business. Or maybe he could develop something he saw during his college life that could have a major impact in the business world. A lot of innovative ideas started in college. That was the genesis of Facebook.
Sometimes we search far and wide for a way to make a living and the answer is right under our noses. A good example is the business success of Michelle Hoskins. Childhood memories of pancakes drizzled with her grandmother’s secret recipe for syrup came rushing back to her when she wanted to start a business. And she started with very little investment. I met Michelle when we were both guests on the Oprah Winfrey show and she has been steadily increasing her reach and her bottom line.
I believe each person is unique and has some sort of skill that can produce a good living. Your son has to identify what skill he can bring to the marketplace.
You son might want to come to grips with what he can do that would be of value to the customer. And he can keep in mind that customers do not buy products and services. They buy the satisfaction of their want. So in short whatever he comes up with should be something that customers want.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Review all the things that he is capable of doing and what he can do with those things.
2. Examine all the resources he has at his disposal and decide how they can assist him.
And if he can’t come up with something immediate, perhaps you might suggest that he take a look at your business and see what ideas he can come up with that could be a spin off of your business. An example of what I mean could be, establishing a trade school that could teach plumbing, or something that might interest other plumbing companies.
Please remind him that business is a step-by-step process and sometimes and success and profits may take a few years.
Gladys Edmunds, founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh, is an author and coach/consultant in business development. Her column appears Wednesdays. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of her columns is here. Her website is gladysedmunds.com.
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