There was no small amount of irony in a conversation I had this week with a man who works in a bank. Not one of your fatcat bonus-grabbing bankers, this man from the bank's day usually compromises of studying business plans and loan applications from start-ups and small businesses and assessing their viability against the bank's lending criteria.
This, he believed, perhaps understandably, had equipped him perfectly for having a crack at the action himself: after all, he'd spent years assessing other people's businesses so why not turn that knowledge to his advantage?
He was financially savvy, appreciated the need for a solid business model, to keep overheads low and cashflow positive.
Fair enough I thought, so I asked him what his business idea was.
"That's the problem, I don't have one," he replied. "I want to start a business but I'm not sure what to start."
So I asked him what I ask anyone looking for a business idea: what are you passionate about and, other than the operations of a business and a bank, what have you got experience in?
"I'm not sure that's important," he answered. "I don't mind if it's something I'm not that interested in, it's more important I find a viable business opportunity."
And therein lays the difference between someone who works in a bank and your average small business owner - and possibly why there remains a gulf in understanding between the two and their respective priorities.
Now there's nothing wrong with not knowing what type of business you want to start or, of course, being profit-focused. Some would argue you don't even need industry experience of the business you end up starting. But, you absolutely must have passion and enthusiasm.
Seasoned entrepreneurs might seize opportunities for opportunity's sake but you can bet part of their winning formula will be to get someone in who is experienced, passionate and knowledgeable to fill that void. You won't have such luxury.
'Passion' is intangible and immeasurable but it's nonetheless essential - especially for the first-time business owner. If you're not passionate about your product or service, how do you propose your customers and employees be? How will you motivate yourself to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the business work if you're 'not that interested'?
If you're searching for a business idea, pick something you can obsess about - where if you're not already expert, you can become one.
Pick something where you'll happily obsess over market trends, customer habits and relentlessly seek ways to innovate and gain advantage. Pick an industry you're prepared to know inside out and spend the vast majority of the next few years of your life immersing yourself into.
As Doug Richard said in Smarta's eBook, 'The Smartest Brains In Business', there's a land grab for expertise underway and the biggest opportunity in 2010 is in establishing a working world around your passion.
If you want to run a successful business start here and then work out how to monetise it - not the other way around.