Finding Business Ideas

It’s time to start thinking about what your small business will look like. Where do you find ideas? How do you know if they’re good ideas?

In this session, you’ll complete a worksheet to help you find business ideas that relate to what you’re passionate about. You’ll also learn how to assess those ideas and evaluate your capacity for risk.

Finding Business Ideas

What Am I Good At?

If you’re considering starting your own business, it makes sense to start with what you know. Ask yourself:

  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What am I good at?
  • What feedback have I gotten from others? (For example, have your friends always said, “These cookies are so good, they should be in a bakery!”?)

What Other Skills Do I Have?

When considering your skills, think outside the box. For example, a carpenter may also be good at project management, design, communication, and math. A salesperson may have skills in persuasion, sales, influence, and negotiation.

What Can I Make Money At?

Ken Blanchard once said, “If nobody will pay you to do what you love, you have a hobby, not a career.”

How can you turn your skills into a marketable product? Consider these examples:

  • If you love coin collecting, people may not pay to hear you speak about how exciting it is as a hobby, but they might pay you to assess the value of coins.
  • If you’re an experienced salesperson, you might be able to use those skills as a sales consultant.
  • If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight, people might be interested in how you did it, so that they can lose weight too.

What Problems Exist?

Next, consider how your useful skill (which is now a product) will help solve a problem in the marketplace, and therefore appeal to customers. Here are some ways that you can get ideas:

  • Look for inefficiencies in existing services. Maybe people love the local bakeries and markets in your area, but dislike the early hours, long lineups, and lack of parking. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a delivery service!
  • Listen to what people are saying. If, for example, the lack of parking at the local market drives you crazy, but you’ve never heard anyone else complain about it, it might not be much of an opportunity.
  • Look for new ways that you can tap into current markets. For example, there are plenty of handbag and luggage lines out there, but Lug designs particular bags for particular purposes.
  • Keep your eye on new technologies and offerings. For example, when IKEA opens in a new city, assembly, delivery, and repair businesses also pop up.
  • Consider spin-off opportunities and related products. For example, a piano sales company might want to start offering piano lessons. Or perhaps they’d like to partner with someone to offer the service.
  • Put different things together in new ways. For example, people used to go to a separate butcher, fishmonger, and farmer to do their grocery shopping. Then, supermarkets started emerging, offering one-stop shopping.

What If I Already Have a Business Idea?

If you have a business idea, or the beginnings of a small business (like a free newsletter), going through an exercise like this one is even more important. Seriously considering what you want to do with your business and how it will make money will help ensure that you’re on the right track. You may find bigger, better ideas that will make your small business more successful than you ever imagined.