So, you don’t have your complete business idea all mapped out. That’s okay! There are lots of ways to come up with a business idea. We hope that this guide will show you that it’s easier than you think to find inspiration.
Once you understand what you really want, your ideas will be aligned with a business you’ll want to start today!
Learn about yourself
Understanding yourself is the key to setting up a business you are passionate about and committed to.
Take a step back. The starting place is always to understand what the purpose of your business is before you get started.
Create separate lists or mindmaps under the following headings:
What is your main motivation(s) for starting a business?
Consider things like…
- To do something that makes a difference,
- to do something you’re passionate about,
- to have freedom and control over your working day,
- to leave a legacy,
- to earn more money (how much?),
- to work around family commitments.
What would an ideal working day look like for you? What is your idea of a working nightmare?
Consider things like…
- Working at home,
- working outside,
- multiple locations,
- working with your hands,
- working on a computer,
- working with other people,
- selling stuff,
- factor in exercise, social time, rest time
What are your strengths?
What do you think your strengths are?
How would your friends and family describe you?
E.g. Adaptable, empathetic, patient, trustworthy, creative, organised, disciplined, logical, practical, leader, teamwork, communication.
What are your skills?
What can you do that the majority of people can’t?
Do you have any specific qualifications?
E.g. Hairdresser, management, IT, childcare, research, writing.
What do you have more knowledge about than the majority of people?
E.g. Sport, fashion, cars, history, celebrity gossip.
What interests you?
If you can start a business in an area that interests you then you will be willing to do all the research to make you an expert in the area, even if you have no previous experience. You don’t need to know it all, as long as you have a passion and willingness to learn.
This can be the same as above or something else, like photography, psychology, technology, crafts.
What are your values?
Your values are what is truly important to you. When making any big decision it’s important to consider whether your values are being met.
Think about times you are the happiest, satisfied and most proud. When considering each, what factor contributed to having those feelings. Use this table to narrow down your 10 core values based on what factors provided your best experiences.
What do you enjoy doing and what don’t you enjoy? What did you love doing as a child you’d still enjoy now?
E.g. Maths, ironing, cleaning, managing people, exercise, socialising, animals.
Now, review all your answers to the above questions (there maybe lots of duplicate answers). You are now in a better position to work out what ideas resonate with you.
Plan your business idea
Now you understand your own motivations, it’s time to plan out your business idea. These usually fall into two broad categories:
Improve an existing product or service
The majority of startups provide a service or products that already exist in the marketplace. The best startups take a great idea and improve on it.
Research the companies in your sector by checking their reviews, purchasing their products and analysing what they do well and what you could do to improve it. In the majority of cases, the customer experience can always be improved.
Solve a problem
Many entrepreneurs have started businesses by finding a solution to a problem. Instead of complaining about the annoyances in life, they view them as challenges.
It could be a specific product or a way to improve lives. Think of times when you have been stressed or keep an ear out for what people are complaining about. Join groups and forums and discover common complaints. Speak to people in specific industries and find out what’s causing them pain at the moment.
These businesses are in a category of one. There’s no searching for a niche and no competition (yet). Being the first to market with a new idea or concept will make you an authority figure in your field.
Time to take the next step
Hopefully, you’ve now got a clearer idea of your potential business idea, or at least a direction of travel. Don’t worry if you haven’t got anything concrete just yet, simply by doing this exercise your mind will be open to opportunities when they present themselves.
If you do have ideas, the next step is to talk to someone and see if you can refine them or come up with something even better. It’s a good idea to speak to someone in the specific industry you’d like to work in or someone who has already set up a successful business.
Once you have finalised your idea, the final stage is market research. Most startups fail for one reason; lack of proper planning. At this initial stage it’s a good idea to start with asking your potential customers what they think of your business ideas. This could be direct interviews or through surveys on social media.