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Engage your start-up resolutions

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 | By Polly McGee

A New Year full of promise has come and gone, bringing new resolutions and clean slates with it.


If you are like most people, you would have concluded 2011 by undertaking a personal audit of your happiness, also known as making New Year resolutions.


Many people would have decided that this is going to be their year. The year they finally take the leap and create their dream start-up.


Often, that's the easy bit. The harder question is: "What do you do next?"


For those folks who don't have a vocational compass driving them into a specific business, there are several ways to approach the search for start-up inspiration.


A good way to start is to be very clear on what your talents and interests are. Your business needs to keep you interested and engaged.


I find writing a list or mind mapping out the jumble of things rolling around in your head to be a perfect starting point.


Jot down words rather than sentences to get the inspiration flowing. Get down on paper all of the ideas, feelings and even emotions you want to connect with your new venture.


This is a highly unscientific process, but one that lets you explore creatively the beginnings of a commercial idea. There is plenty of time to apply rational logic later as you get into the operations side of your start-up.


Most likely, you will see a pattern emerge with regards to the type of venture you want to undertake.


You might be a products person, a personal services person or a knowledge person. Whatever you are, you can create a new business opportunity.


If a clear opportunity is emerging from this process, then start to refine it. For example, if you've written down cake making, markets, kids, helping people, free time, creativity, happy and fun, then a number of different start-up ideas could arise from that mix.


Perhaps running a cake stall, party catering, teaching kids how to bake, running cake decorating classes or blogging about baking?


You can play with this process and be quite ruthless about discarding ideas when they don't feel right, or you instantly come up with reasons that the business won't work.


You can start to develop that famous entrepreneurial intuition here, and discard your ideas until you get a feeling for the one that you want dig deeper into.


Then you can also use the internet to refine your ideas and find emerging market trends.


A quick trawl through Twitter and the blogosphere tells me that personal services businesses are still on the rise.


Whatever your start-up strategy for 2012, the key part is actually starting, not consigning your resolution for change to last years journal entry.