Remember in my last post I said I had a few more Mumpreneur ideas on my drawing board? Well, I was playing around with one of these (was there a market for it? How would I get clients? How long would it take before I got an income from it? And so on). I felt a few sparks of "yes, I could do that" but most of the time it didn't really grab me. I was missing something, then I found a book by Paul and Sarah Edwards, authors of the excellent "Getting Business to Come to You". This book is called "Finding Your Perfect Work" and unlike the usual careers guides that point you towards a job, it specialises in helping you find the right self-employed work for you. (You can get this from Amazon or download it as an ebook from http://middleclasslibrary.com/). Finding your Perfect Work gives three questions not to ask when deciding what work is right for you:
- Don't ask what COULD I do – you'll get lost in a forest of endless possibilities
- Don't ask what SHOULD I do – you'll get lost in a barren desert of unappealing ideas
- Don't ask what's BEST for me to do – you'll get lost in a quagmire of impossible choices
Instead ask "What do I really want to do?" Then I realised I've spent the last eight months going round in circles with the three 'don't' questions. I know exactly were this came from. On the day I decided I couldn't put my daughter in nursery and go back to my full-time job, I decided that my work options were now so limited, I would have to take whatever I could get. Maybe it wasn't a totally conscious decision, but it's been steering my thoughts and actions ever since. Now that I've done some research I'm realising that my options are very different than the ones I had pre-baby, and yes, they probably are more limited, but I have a lot more possibilities than I first thought. With two very small children to care for, I'll need a passion for any business I run. My energy is going to be pretty low at times so I need my natural motivation to be as high as it possibly can be. If my business idea doesn't grab me now, it's not right for me. But what is right for me? So far I've only read chapter 1 of the book, so I'll let you know when I've finished.
My background is in training, mostly IT training. So I thought there would be a a good opportunity to bring the online training I’ve delivered in big organisations to small businesses. A few weeks ago I asked solopreneurs and small business owners to take my survey to see if there really was a market for my training.
Here is my plan. I thought that small business owners are probably frustrated by at least one aspect of their computer software. Chances are that they’ve not had training on how to use it and they’ve picked it up as you’ve gone along. They don’t have time to do a whole day’s training or to plough through huge manuals to find the quickest way of getting a task done. But if they add it all up, struggling through software is costing time (=money), effort and frustration every time they use it.
They could take an online training course, but virtually all are pre-recorded and don’t feel much different to ploughing through a manual. What they need (so I thought) is the speed and accessibility of an online course, but with a real, live trainer like you would have in a classroom – live online training. And they need it broken into short chunks so they can pick and choose the topics they need, when they need them.
I was right to some extent, but I found that people tend to deal with their frustrations in two main ways. If they are confident with IT, they’ll read a book, go to an online forum or talk to the software supplier’s technical support. If they are less confident with IT, they’ll tend to outsource to someone who is. This left me with very little ground in the middle, where people’s training needs were few, far between and very fragmented. One person might need to know a small part of Photoshop and another would need a little bit of Sage. I was hoping for a number of people to say something like “great, my accounts software is driving me nuts, can you help?” but this wasn’t the case.
I saw a gap in the market, but there wasn’t a market in the gap.
I’m not despondent, in fact I’m feeling rather pleased with myself. This is the first time I’ve done any proper market research and I’m delighted that I’ve saved myself a lot of time and money pursuing a business that doesn’t have an easy and hungry market.
So it’s back to the drawing board, but luckily my drawing board has a few more ideas sitting on it, just waiting for me to get researching. Keep reading to see how I get on.