Linda was a successful pharmaceutical and medical device sales representative with her MBA when I met her at a business conference I was the keynote speaker at, talking about scaling companies.

Tired of working for other companies, Linda wanted to build her own business helping small pharmaceutical companies and medical manufacturers tap into an outsourced sales force of highly skilled and professionally managed sales reps to sell their pharmaceuticals or medical devices. On their own, these companies would never be able to afford this caliber of sales force due to their smaller size and limited budget.

Linda’s choice for her business wasn’t an accident. She applied a simple yet powerful formula that proved to exponentially increase the chances of her new business succeeding. Looking closely at this formula, see if you can spot how Linda applied it. If you’ve already started a business, see if you intuitively followed this formula or if you strayed from it.

After observing thousands of startups and watching which ones thrived and which ones struggled, here is the bottom-line formula that I’ve distilled as to which business you should start. Essentially what it says is that you’ll find your highest likelihood of business success when your new venture falls within the overlap of three factors:

  • Your passions
  • Your talents
  • Your advantages

Your Passions: What are you passionate about? What do you love to do? What things do you find absorbing? Engaging? Engrossing?

To build a successful business requires focusing on your business long after the blush of the initial excitement has faded. Your passion keeps you in your business and enjoying it even when you’re faced with the inevitable challenges.

For Linda, her passion was to help people–that is, she loved selling a product she believed in to people who could use that product to make a real difference in the lives of those they served.

You’re business doesn’t need to be just about what you love, but for you to increase your odds of staying the course, it should directly or indirectly and meaningfully tap into one or more of your deep passions.

Your Talents: What are you great at doing? What skills come easily and naturally for you? What do other people say looks easy when you do it? In what area are you consistently improving?

For Linda, her talents included a wonderful ease in meeting new people, the ability to build solid relationships, an infectious way of getting other people excited, and a dogged persistence that kept her focused on her goals, even when it looked like things might never work out.

Your Advantages: What are the resources, both financial and non-financial, that you can bring to your new business venture? What life experiences have you earned and want to apply? What relationships have you built that you can tap into? What skill sets and proficiencies have you invested the time and money to cultivate? What financial resources can you access? What symbolic capital have you earned?

In Linda’s case, she spent 20 years in the medical sales arena. She had gained an intimate knowledge of how the industry worked, both from the standpoint of those selling in the field to the pharmaceutical or medical device companies that strive to make a profit. She had also developed relationships with hundreds of doctors, hospital administrators, medical staff members, sales reps, and medical companies. To all that, she brought a network of other business owners and advisors from the Maui community to give her feedback, help her fine-tune her plan, and support her in executing that plan.

The most successful start-ups live in the overlap of these three areas: your passions, your talents, and your advantages.

For more ideas on growing your business, including a free tool kit with 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, click here.