Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Match Top Business and Best Small Business Ideas to Your Personality

When choosing a small business to start, what's the smartest way to use popular lists of "top business" or "best small business ideas?"
  • First, know how your personality relates to starting a business and choosing the right small business to start.
  • Second, match top businesses that interest you from your favorite lists to your Holland personality types as part of your science-based, 3 step action plan to make an informed business decision.
Many people do Internet research about “starting a business,” “business opportunities,” and “home based business,” few people research how to choose the right business type for their personality. That's a big omission from the business start up process. Obviously everyone wants to start a business that will make money. But the best business idea in the world is not going to work for you if your personality is at odds with either the reality of starting and running a business, or at odds with the type of business you choose.

Earlier this year I wrote a very popular blog post about matching your personality with the “Best Career” lists that get published every year. Similarly, you can narrow your search for the best business ideas to ones in areas that match your personality. Periodically, business media outlets publish online lists of hot or best business ideas. See for example (we have no business relationship with these sources):

2008 Hot List: Best Businesses, Markets, Trends and Ideas,”
Top 20 Home-Based Businesses,”

Here's a step by step way to match your personality with the current “best” business ideas:
  1. Take the Self-Employment Key (SEK) test, and select the businesses for your personal job options list that you'd like to explore further for your top two Holland personality types,
  2. Select business ideas that interest you from your favorite “Best” list,
  3. In addition to using your SEK test's personal job option list, assign each business idea that interests you to a Holland type you think matches. Be sure to also look at Career Key's full online list of jobs, organized by Holland type,
  4. If you don't find the exact same business or occupation title, look for similar ones (see my method below).
For example, using three entries from's list of best businesses, I show below the corresponding Holland personality type letter (RIASEC). Remember that you are very likely compatible with more than one type of working environment. As you can see, although there are some minor differences in job title, you can still find the right business type. To find alternative job titles and industries, search the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Career Guide to Industries whose terminology we use at both the Career Key and Self-Employment Key websites.
You can use the same method with any other “top” or “best” business idea list. All these job title links provide a wealth of information about the industry you're researching, and you gain the additional advantage of knowing how compatible your personality will be with the people working in that business. Our exercises for learning about yourself will also help you flesh out your options.

Please let me know how this matching process works for you. I welcome your questions and suggestions.

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