Tons of business ideas are always floating around, but not all of them are unique. Many companies think they have an incredible idea and go to market an audience only to find out that their plan wasn’t that great after all. If that happens that doesn’t mean their approach isn't destined to work; it just means they may need to cater it more to their audience or find something that works better in their industry. We often tell small business owners during our free webinar training that it takes time to come up with the idea that sells, and that frustrations are only temporary. Join us for our next webinar and follow these 5 tips to figure out a business idea that works and will set you on the right path.
Pay attention to social media
There’s always a lot happening on social media. That’s why they call it “social,” after all. Entrepreneur discusses why social media is an excellent place to figure out how your audience is doing and what they’re interested in and what they’re talking about the most. That’ll give you some insight and some excellent ideas on how you can help them solve a problem or buy something that they can’t live without.
Social media is a great place to discover consumer pain points and needs. Consider Michael Kiel, founder and captain of Boat Planet, who created a Facebook group for boat owners at the Lake of the Ozarks. After hosting the group for a few months, he began to detect a pattern. “I noticed a recurring discussion being posted several times a day,” Kiel says. “Boaters were asking for recommendations on whom to trust to work on their boats, docks and boat lifts.” That’s when he had the idea for his startup: a platform that connects boaters with trusted marine professionals.
You may not be ready to pursue a business idea tomorrow, but you’d be wise to insert yourself into social media communities related to areas you’re passionate about today. Join or start a Facebook group, as Kiel did, or look for a subreddit in your area of expertise. Search hashtags or keywords associated with your industry and interests. Instead of scrolling past people’s complaints on social media, stop to read them. You never know when a trend could become visible or an idea could strike.
Ask yourself some questions
If you’re starting from scratch or have a brand new business, All Business recommends asking yourself some questions. Sometimes interviewing yourself can give you ideas on what you’re interested in and what strengths you should be paying attention to, to help you achieve your goals.
What am I good at?
Think about the things that you are good at. These could be:
Skills you’ve developed (e.g., being proficient at Excel)
Knowledge you’ve acquired (e.g., art history, statistics, financial management, or how to use big data to support business decisions)
Challenges you have overcome (e.g., overcoming chronic pain, becoming an effective social networker if you’re an introvert)
Don’t censure yourself here. Something that might seem easy and natural to you without any added value may be something that someone else might happily pay for! And no, you don’t have to be an expert on the topic–just write everything down.
If you can’t find many things that you are good at, you can always ask your family, your friends, your coworkers, your clients. Remember that in this phase, it’s just a brainstorming exercise, so please write everything down, even if something seems worthless.
The first time I did this, I wrote down things like “baking cookies for my kids” and “preparing to-do lists.” So there is no room for self-judgment here–just try to capture whatever crosses your mind. Don’t stop until you have 20 business ideas written down. I know it may sound like a lot right now, but you can do this, trust me.
Business Insider urges you to consult with your friends to see what their thoughts are. They can tell you a lot about the person you are and what makes you tick.
What do your friends say you're great at? I love this question. Not only can it be a nice little ego boost — but it can also be incredibly revealing. Examples: Workout routines, relationship advice, great fashion sense, etc.
What do you do on a Saturday morning? What do you do on a Saturday morning before everyone else is awake? This can be incredibly revealing to what you're passionate about and what you like to spend your time on. Examples: Browsing fashion websites, working on your car, reading fitness subreddits, etc.
There are many more questions you should ask yourself and take the time to ponder. Business News Daily says paying attention to your customers, and your market will help you weed out the bad ideas and make room for ideas that’ll actually work.
Will people pay for it?
It's paying customers who validate an idea and determine which ones have the greatest chance for success, said Wil Schroter, co-founder and CEO of Fundable.
“An idea is just an idea until you have a paying customer attached to it,” Schroter said. “Anyone can discredit a simple idea, but no one can discredit paying customers.”
Is there a sizable niche market for it?
Without a large enough market, your idea may never get off the ground. You need to determine if a niche market actually exists for your idea. You're better poised for success if your business improves upon what's already out there – a novel response to a recognized need.
How can you tell if a niche market is, in fact, a market? It's a mix of “research, gut instinct and personal preference,” according to Ari S. Goldberg, founder of investment firm RNMKR. “I consider overall industry trends, the amount of investment activity that's taken place in the space recently, how much I've read about it from the consumer side, and whether I've heard people talking about it,” Goldberg said.
As we mentioned at the very beginning, everyone experiences challenge from time to time. It’s what you do with those frustrations is what Forbes states can either hurt or benefit you.
Think for a minute. What’s the biggest frustration in your life right now?
Got it? Okay, good.
Now, what’s the solution to that problem?
There’s your business idea.
I’m not exaggerating, although I am simplifying the principle.
The greatest business ideas are born out of solving problems. Someone confronts a problem, comes up with the solution, and sells it.
What’s the problem? And what’s the solution? Something to trap the mice that are eating the chips in your pantry (mousetrap). A device that keeps diaper odors from ruining your entire home (diaper champ). An electric orb that eliminates unwanted darkness (thank you, Edison ).
The problems that you can solve are your most brilliant and profitable business ideas.
Fit Small Business reiterates what Forbes says by explaining how identifying your problems will hopefully help you find an excellent solution to improve your business.
This is going to be the best place to find ideas. You’ll be familiar first-hand with the problem. You’ll also be in a good position to think through what a good solution might look like. Look at problems you have in your personal life, problems you have at work and personal goals you’re having trouble reaching and how you might make them easier to achieve. An added benefit of finding a personal problem is that you can try out potential solutions yourself quickly.
Sean Rad-How to Come Up With a Business Idea
“I was always frustrated. I was always very shy, and I felt scared to walk up to someone I was interested in and say hello. When I realized that if I knew that they liked me, it would take all the fear away — that was when the idea started. How can we figure out who likes who or who around me likes me without having them put themselves out there? You save yourself from an awkward moment.”
— Sean Rad, Co-founder and Chairman, Tinder
Unplug and do something different
It’s common for business owners to get worn out, especially if you’re starting a new online business. Forbes recommends unplugging and doing something different so you can come up with fresh ideas.
An Entrepreneur article by Nadia Goodman, expressed this brilliantly:
New ideas require creativity, which thrives on novelty and diversity. You might find a great idea while you’re on vacation or unexpected inspiration in an experimental art exhibit.
Boynton, the author of The Idea Hunter said this:
You have to get out in the world and practice behaviors that lead you to new ideas….If you open your eyes, the answer is there, but your world has to be broad enough and diverse enough to feed you the ideas you need.
New experiences, new destinations, new sensations — these are the types of things that inspire new ideas. You can’t brainstorm new, unless you experience new.
Find something new to do or somewhere new to go. What’s it going to be? Go to Burning Man, hike Inca ruins, bungee jump in Costa Rica?
Do something new, and you’ll get ideas like never before.
Consult with a marketing professional
Marketing professionals can also help give you ideas, and according to Inc., you should contact a marketing professional right from the beginning. Join us during our free webinar training to learn what you need to make your company successful and profitable online.
It’s better to take the advice of a marketing professional right from beginning. Doing this will reduce your business risk as well as overhead expenses, while providing you with details about how much your business demands in terms of promotion and advertising. New businesses that ignore the value of marketing and think this is something that can be worked out later are usually seen rectifying errors committed at the outset. For example, opting for an online business requires a website that can meet usability standards aptly and offer the best customer experience. A digital marketing specialist will tell you in advance that your website needs to be SEO friendly, and the right ways to build it. Developing a platform accordingly will minimize half of the difficulties that can surface later and prove troublesome.