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Business Beat: Solve a Problem, Change the World

Building and selling products around a passion is not enough to ensure a business concept has a valid market opportunity. There is plenty of commentary encouraging entrepreneurs to take a passion and convert it into a business but it takes more than inspiration to build a venture that works.

It is though, a promising area for aspiring entrepreneurs to look to when thinking of starting up.

When thinking about taking a passion project to business venture, try a few of these activities to help find the best direction and validate product ideas.

1. Identify your passion succinctly

An interest or talent in art does not necessarily mean that selling art in a gallery is the best way to create revenue from a passion. It may be one revenue stream. I recommend taking a big sheet of paper and devoting an hour of time to sketch out what the passion really is. An artist might say, “My passion is art.” It may be, but often it is more than that. Is it helping people with art? Is it teaching people about art?

2. Identify industry trends and opportunities realistically

The marketplace tells us things about the present and future needs, wants, problems and opportunities. It is a good idea to do some simple exploration through internet searches, paying attention when shopping for products and then talking to others within the industry the passion lies. This approach is called informing assumptions and helps direct and hone where the idea is headed.

3. Your passion needs to solve a problem

That means you need to define what the problem it might solve, is. More often than not, the initial idea solves no problem at all. This is not an easy task but is the single most important activity any startup undertakes. Identifying if the problem you solve can open up other revenue streams. Working through a value proposition canvas is one way to start understanding the problem more intimately.

4. Take action. Test the idea before you are ready

The power of hands-on customer feedback cannot be matched by secondary market research. This means getting started, putting fear away and asking questions to potential customers. The process I recommend is listen, question and change. It’s a bit of trial and error and a great way to get instant response and personal feedback required to validate any venture.

Taking a passion to a proven business venture is rewarding to entrepreneurs and many of these passion ventures have changed the world for the better. Just look at local MHC Start Up Company alumni entrepreneur, Roxanne Doerksen of TRAD Worm Industries, she took a passion for worms and turned it into venture that helps students learn, impacts the community and is profitable. It can be done.

The MHC Entrepreneur Development Centre helps students and alumni bring their entrepreneurship dreams to life. We offer 1-1 coaching, training, mentorship and access to a diverse network of startup funding. Watch for dates in the MHC Continuing Studies Calendar for upcoming dates on a learning series that will help aspiring entrepreneurs take a passion idea and turn it into a viable venture.

Christie Wilson is an entrepreneur outreach coordinator at Medicine Hat College and the APEX Entrepreneurship Incubator.

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