If you are an aspiring entrepreneur but are battling to come up with a viable business idea, don’t worry… you are definitely not alone in this! Even those who have attended prestigious business schools struggle when it comes to coming up with innovative business ideas, and even the most successful entrepreneurs may have had to try out multiple different business ideas before they settled on one that really worked.
We live in a world where we have an endless amount of opportunities, and it can be quite overwhelming to start looking at all the different options that you have available to you. You may also feel like all business ideas have been done before and that you’ll never be able to come up with something that is unique and that would be successful.
In this article, we give you some advice regarding the process of coming up with great business ideas, the dos and don’ts of business ideas, and some of the alternatives you have available to you!
Factors to consider when coming up with a business idea
While the world is truly your oyster when it comes to business ideas and opportunities, there are a few factors that you should take into consideration when thinking of a viable business that you yourself could start! Factors to consider include:
Your strengths and passions
You may think it is cliche to start a business around something that you are passionate about, but some of the most successful businesses are grown out of hobbies and passions. What is it that you really enjoy doing? What are you good at? What are you passionate about? What are you knowledgeable about? Are there any ways in which you could turn these strengths and passions into a business? In most cases, you probably can!
By going into business with something you know about and have experience in, you may have an edge and an extra advantage over your competitors, which you’ll certainly need in the highly competitive world of business.
Gaps in the market
Look around at your neighbourhood or town. What is lacking in terms of businesses and business offerings? Speak to people around you and do some market research and find ways in which you could fill gaps in the market. The best type of businesses fulfil a need and find solutions to problems.
Business strategists and experts may also be able to tell you more about current market trends and which gaps could be filled. But sometimes, the best research you could do is simply by speaking to people around you, realising what their needs and struggles are, and finding ways to fulfil these needs.
Many people have great business ideas but are often held back by their budgets. If you do not have a large budget, you will need to start your business on a small scale and grow slowly from there. Make sure that you are also fully aware of the different financing options that you have available to you, such as loans from the bank, private financing, investors, crowdfunding etc. You may be able to get your hands on more capital than you thought was possible.
Keep the future in mind
As much as your business offering should solve current problems, it should also look at solving future problems. Things move quickly in this day and age, and if you can future-proof your business idea, the more successful your business is likely to be. While it is near impossible to predict what will happen in the future, you can look at past trends to try to get an approximation of what may be possible.
Business idea creation process
Yes, some people have incredible ideas that come to them, like a strike of lightning. But these people are very lucky. Most business ideas are created through brainstorming and idea creation, and perhaps even many long months of thinking about certain business ideas.
While there are many different ways that you can come up with business ideas, you may find the following process to be incredibly helpful.
Step #1 Brainstorm
The first step in the process is to brainstorm. Most people like working with paper and pen when it comes to brainstorming as it is more effective and also makes the process more fun and memorable. Set aside at least 15 to 20 minutes for brainstorming if you want to come up with enough ideas.
Write down all of the ideas that come to your head based on the factors of consideration that we listed in the above section. Create different categories of ideas (even using different colours for different categories), and don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild in the brainstorming phase of the process. You never know what you may come up with!
Draw up pros and cons lists
Now looking at your list of brainstormed ideas, carefully choose a handful of what you feel are your best business ideas and start drawing up pros and cons lists for each option. You may need to do a little industry research in order to create accurate pros and cons lists. The more detailed the lists, the better! These pros and cons lists will give you an idea of what you’d be dealing with on a daily basis when running different businesses and the potential success of each business idea.
Review your options
Take the time to review and refine your options. Perhaps certain ideas have a few too many cons than they do pros. Knock them off the list. Keep whittling down until you’re left with just a few ideas that you really believe in and are excited about. If you can’t decide on just one, perhaps try and look at ways in which you could combine a variety of different business ideas together to create one cohesive business plan. If you can, you may want to make detailed and structured business plans for each of your options and do further industry research to gain more information.
Consult a business expert
At this stage of the process, it may be a good idea to speak to a professional business expert or business consultant. They can have a look at your potential options and business plans and help you decide which options are viable and which options may be flawed. They can also give you extremely valuable advice as to how you may move forward with each idea that you have come up with and give you insight that you may not be able to find anywhere else.
Other ways to come up with ideas
The following two strategies may also help you considerably when coming up with business ideas:
Go to business seminars- KEEP LEARNING
The more you know about business, the more ideas you’re likely to get. That is why it is important to keep learning, keep up with business news and trends, and attend business seminars if you can. This will keep you well informed and also provide you with an opportunity to mingle and network with other people you are involved in in the business world. Who knows, you may meet your next business partner there.
There are so many amazing materials out there, including books, Youtube videos, online seminars, and more. These will open your eyes to the wide variety of opportunities out there!
Coming up with good business ideas boils down to creativity most of the time. Some people are innately creative while others are not. But everyone can be creative if they truly want to be! If you feel that you are not naturally creative, you may want to partake in some creativity-inducing activities such as drawing, writing, dancing etc., to get those creative juices flowing! Just like getting physically fit, creativity takes practice. Not only will creativity help you come up with ideas, but it will also help you find innovative solutions to problems in the business realm.
Don’t make these mistakes when coming up with business ideas
When you are coming up with business ideas, there are definitely a few things that you should make sure that you don’t do, including:
Do not copy or steal others’ ideas
Plagiarism and being a copycat is not okay. While you can definitely take inspiration from various facets of different businesses, you should never copy ideas directly. Not only will your audience soon notice the similarities between you and your competitors, but you may also find yourself in some legal trouble when it comes to copyright laws etc.
Don’t rush with coming up with an idea
While you shouldn’t take too long with coming up with a concept, you also certainly should not rush. You should feel confident in your business idea before running with it and have looked at it from a variety of different angles. Sit with an idea for a while and wait until it feels right to get going!
Don’t follow trends
While you should definitely keep an eye on trends, following trends won’t get you very far in most cases. Trend cycles these days are extremely fast-paced so being a very ‘trendy’ business is exceptionally difficult. If you can’t stay on top of the trends that you’re chasing, you’ll soon be deemed irrelevant.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
If you are getting frustrated by the fact that you are battling to come up with business ideas, you should not be too hard on yourself. Being overly critical will more than likely result in a creative block and not get you any further on your path to coming up with great ideas. Speak to yourself kindly, and great ideas are sure to emerge eventually.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself
Being yourself and your uniqueness could be one of your biggest assets. Instead of trying to follow the crowd, tap into what you have as an individual to offer in the business world. Be confident enough to stand out!
Sometimes, it’s best just to get started!
Don’t let trying to be perfect hinder your progress. Sometimes it is better to just get the ball rolling and release your business idea even if you aren’t 100% happy with it. You can always make adjustments and changes at a later stage. And sometimes, making mistakes can be truly eye-opening for you as a business owner. You learn a lot through mistakes. Don’t be afraid to run with the business idea that you have. It may be a little rough around the edges at first, but by starting, you’ll get an idea of how customers feel about your offering and what you can improve upon!
The alternatives to coming up with your own business idea
If you really do not feel confident in the business ideas that you have come up with, the alternative would be to purchase an already-existing business. Businesses are being bought and sold all the time, and the name, processes, marketing material, etc., would all already be in place! This takes a lot of the stress off of your shoulders. If there are certain things that you don’t like, you could always adjust these after having bought the business. It’s always important that you use a business evaluator to check the books etc., and that you buy a business that you understand and that resonates with you.
Another viable option could be purchasing a franchise and opening a franchise branch. Franchises can be pricey but popular franchises usually almost guarantee success, and there are guidelines and regulations in place as to how things need to be done, taking all the guesswork out of running a business.
Remember that even some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world battled with coming up with their business ideas and may have tried multiple business ideas before they found what really worked for them!
Also, remember that if you have really good business ideas, you should restrain from sharing them with everyone you come across, especially if your ideas have not yet been patented. Patenting and copyrighting ideas and business names is essential if you do not want to be copied!