Skill and interest assessments may be informal or formal.
While the Feasibility Study focuses on the proposed business, here
attention is shifted to the potential business-person's skills and interests.
These assessments are nonstandardized - the person being assessed is
not measured against a scale or others who have taken the same test.
A vocational evaluator or rehabilitation counselor can administer them,
or the individual can self-assess. It is usually a self-discovery process.
For example, a vocational evaluator and consumer might discuss the person's
experience and education, skills and abilities, financial situation,
likes and dislikes, current needs, desirable settings/locations, and
need for additional education or training. The goal is to discover one
or more possible business(es) to pursue.
Michael LeBoeuf, author of The Perfect Business
, describes a different process:
Step 1. Discover a person's passions, because
passions motivate people. LeBoeuf asks a series of guided-discovery
Step 2. Ascertain a person's strengths. LeBoeuf presents
a framework for this.
Step 3. Assess the marketability and income-potential
of a person's passions and strengths.
Step 4. Read and learn all that is possible
about the potential business(es).
Step 5. Focus on the business - Select one business,
develop a mission statement, create a vision statement, and define reasons
for getting into the business.
In their book,The Best Home Businesses for
the 90s, Paul and Sarah Edwards say that "selecting a business
from among the many that are viable requires finding a match between
two things" a person's interests and capabilities and what people in
the community will pay for. This match is vital to the business's success.
They also point out the importance of a person enjoying his or her business,
and of using "interests, talents, likes, and dislikes as a filter" for
examining business opportunities. Their discovery process uses five
1. The potential business owner identifies his or her:
- Education and Experience
- Hobbies, Enjoyable Activities, Particular Skills
- Need to be Involved with Others
- Desired Number of Working Hours per Week
- Required Salary
- Available Resources
- Business Preferences (such as franchise vs. start-from-scratch)
2. The potential business owner selects activities he or she likes
to do from three categories:
- Information-oriented Work
- People-oriented Work
- Thing-oriented Work
3. The individual makes two lists:
- Strongest Skills, Talents, Abilities, Capabilities, or Aptitudes
- Subjects/Fields of Greatest Knowledge, Competency, Experience and
4. Each list is then shortened to three skills and three subjects.
5. The individual indicates income requirements, need for contact with
others, desire to learn new skills, and amount of money required and
available to start a business.
The results from these five exercises should be used to compare an individuals
characteristics and preferences with those required by businesses under
There also are many formal assessment tools. Generally these are standardized
questionnaires that measure the individual against a scale or others
who have answered the questions in a certain way. Those listed here
are primarily interest and skills inventories used to help someone identify
one or more careers to pursue. For self-employment, these inventories
identify a general career path, but do not usually identify a specific
type of business to start. Although specific businesses are not identified,
these inventories are very useful to help someone focus on one career
path and explore the types of business opportunities on that path.
Some of these assessments must be administered and interpreted by an
authorized test administrator. Many of these assessments may be available
through vocational evaluators. Or you might contact your agency's Human
Resources department for information on them. You are probably already
familiar with many of these tools and use them with consumers for identifying
potential careers. These assessments include the following:
Strong Interest Inventory:
Assesses an individual's interests and compares them to people reporting
satisfaction in a particular career.
Career Assessment Inventory: Compares
an individual's interests to people in occupations requiring two or
fewer years of post-secondary education or training (similar to the
Strong Interest Inventory).
Campbell Interest and Skill Survey:
Assesses interests and skills, or confidence in a particular skill.
System of Interactive Guidance and Information:
Computerized assessment tool includes a self-assessment, search of majors
and occupations, specific information about required skills and preparation,
help with career choices, and recommended further steps.
Career Occupational Preference System (COPSystem) Interest
Inventory: Yields job activity interest scores based on 14 career
clusters. It can be used in conjunction with:
Career Orientation Placement & Evaluation Survey
measures personal values and increases career development
self-awareness; and Career Ability Placement Survey
measures mechanical and verbal reasoning, numerical ability, language
usage, word knowledge and manual speed and dexterity.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:
Indicates how an individual views events and makes decisions. The Myers-Briggs
places people into one of 16 personality types and ranks them on extroversion/introversion,
sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. James Reynierse
(1997) compared Myers-Briggs samples of entrepreneurs and small business
owners. He found that as a group:
- Entrepreneurs exhibited relatively high rates of extroversion,
intuition, and thinking,
- Small-firm entrepreneurs had higher rates of perceiving;
- Fast-growth entrepreneurs had higher rates of judging;
- Small business owners exhibited relatively high rates of extroversion,
sensing, thinking, and judging.
© July 1998, 1st Revision June 1999, 2nd Revision February 2001