Mark Blasini


Skills and Benefits


Figuring out what business you want to start can be difficult. Common advice is that you should start with your skills. But how do you know which skills are valuable?

A simple exercise you can try is what I call "Skills and Benefits." It works like this.

Draw two columns. At the top of one column, write "Skills." At the top of the other, write "Benefits."

Under the skills column, list all of your skills. A skill is any activity that you know you can do consistently to produce desirable results. For example, if you can make the majority of free-throw shots in, then free-throw shooting would be your skill. If you can sight-read difficult piano pieces, then sight-reading would be your skill.

Next to each skill, in the benefit column, write down what that skill allows other people to do, be, or feel. For example, if your skill is piano-playing, then this skill allows other people to feel relaxed and be entertained. If your skill is public speaking, then this skill allows other people to feel informed or motivated. If your skill is accounting, then this skill allows other people or businesses to understand their finances.

After writing the benefits, ask yourself: which of these skills am I excited about utilizing to help other people? Circle those skills. This is the starting point for your business idea.

If you need additional help or if this exercise is still unclear, try finishing the following statement:

"I can do [x] skill, which allows others to [do, be, or feel 'y']."

The key idea here is to start with your circle of competence, which defines how you can empower others to create value. That's essentially what business is about.