One of the most common questions that women ask when they are thinking about starting a business is “what type of business should I start?”

Before you decide what type of business you want to start, it will be important to evaluate the following factors:

  • How much money do you have to invest in a company?
  • How much time you can invest?
  • How much work you can handle by yourself?
  • If you are still working, how will your employment affect your schedule?
  • How much of your time your family will demand?
  • Reasons for starting a business

Taking the above factors into consideration will help you to be better prepared in choosing a business that will fit your lifestyle and needs.  Many individuals don’t take the time to do this and end up wasting money and becoming wishful thinkers instead of business owners.

Choosing a business category

Determine which of the categories (full-time, part-time transitional, part-time or moonlighting) best fit your current time schedule and needs from the Business Category Chart found on page 8.  By focusing on a specific business category you fit in from the category descriptions, you will be able to properly choose the type of business to start.  If a business idea you have requires your full-time attention and you have placed yourself in the part-time or moonlighting category, you know that you’ll have to cross the idea off of your list.

For example: You would not want to start a Medical Billing service if you have placed yourself in the part-time category, because this business requires that you be available during business hours to speak with patients and answer any questions your clients may have.  In addition, you would have to be willing to become extremely knowledgeable in the field, which would require you to put this type of business into priority.  Knowing your category beforehand would save you thousands of dollars and countless hours of wasted time.

Business Category Chart

Full-time Business

This is for the individual who is not working a full-time job and is seeking a business opportunity or idea that they will be running on an average of 35 to 50 hours per week.  Usually an individual in this category only runs one business and is or is willing to become extremely knowledgeable in their particular business industry.

This individual will eventually depend on sales form the full-time business for their sole income.

Part-time Transitioning Business This category best suits an individual who is not working a full-time job and maybe has another source of income, such as a spouse, pension or other financial support.  This individual wants to be serious about their business and may even go to the full-time category later, but wants to only work between 20 and 30 hours per week.

** If you want to transition into a full-time business, make sure the business will has growth potential.

Part-time Business This is for the individual who is working a part-time job or has small children, but an additional income source is needed.  Usually a business idea or opportunity that requires less time and attention is sought.  Such businesses include direct sales, mail order, certain service businesses and network marketing businesses.

This category requires that you devote at least 10-20 hours per week.

Moonlighting Moonlighting is for individuals whose main need at the time is to bring in additional income.  Starting a full-time business is usually not the goal.  Most moonlighters are working a full or part-time job or they are in school and don’t have a large amount of time to put into a business.  This category requires that you devote at least 5-10 hours per week.

Evaluating your skills & talents

After you have chosen the business category you best fit in, figure out what needs are not being met in your community.  One way to develop a good business idea is to analyze your own talents and skills.  Start by creating two columns, one for your skills/talents and one for a business that could be developed from them.

There have been many women who have started a successful business from their hobbies or work-related skills and have gone on to create successful businesses.  For example, Rowena Fullinwider, a single mother of 3 decided to take her friends advice in 1983 to start her own business and has been extremely successful with her sensational pound cakes and desserts in Norfolk, Virginia ( Her profitable gourmet food business employs 20 people year round and about 125 during the holiday season.  Known as Norfolk Virginia’s “Cake Lady” she used to make cakes and donate them to charities for fundraisers long before she decided to go into business.  One of the main reasons she started her business was because her money was low and sometimes she had to have a second job to support herself and her children.  Today, Rowena’s gourmet items can be found in over 2000 gift shops both online and offline.

Brainstorm your talents and skills!

Answer the following questions.  Use additional notepaper to record your answers and place behind this page for your review.

  • What is your calling or passion?  Start by evaluating your skills and talents.
  • Do people constantly compliment you on something you do?
  • Do you get a good feeling from something that you do?
  • Have you had people to ask you how much you charge, thinking that you did it professionally?
  • Do you have a pet peeve about something that you constantly mention?
  • Do you have ideas on improving a product or service?
  • Have you seen other businesses that you are attracted to?
  • What are your skills?
  • Make a list of the skills that you already have.  Do you sew, word process or design web sites at your job?  Do you have a degree in a particular professional field, i.e., social work, psychology, journalism, marketing etc.?   Have you been certified or attended training workshops?
  • Create Your Own Business Idea Chart
  • Further explore your talents and skills.  Download the business idea chart example and blank chart for your use!

About the Author:

Trina Newby is a Business Consultant, CEO & Founder of Women About Biz, a membership organization that provides small business resources, tools and networking opportunities for women.