I’m often asked by would-be independents how to go about starting a business. You can’t have a business if you don’t know what you’re selling. So Step 1 is to define your value proposition. These three questions may help:

  • what are you good at?
  • what do you like to do?
  • what’s your market environment?

What you like to do may not be what you’re good at — and it’s important to recognize this. Similarly, your best business option may be something you’re great at but aren’t passionate about. Yet it could be your unique quality and your best selling point.

Understanding the market in which you work is critical. I have one colleague who works in a region where companies want to work with New York and Washington PR firms. Aligning with a Washington firm makes sense and gives him the cachet prospective clients demand. Similarly, if you’re a writer in a community that’s rife with freelance writers, you may want to think of a different way to position yourself and your business.

Photo by Natalie Maynor (Flickr).