Finding a great business idea is challenging. In fact, up to 90% of startups fail often because of not having a solid plan or idea in the first place. So where should aspiring entrepreneurs start to find inspiration and validate new concepts? Follow tips to ignite creative business ideas and set your future venture up for success.
10 Tips to Start a Business if You Have No Ideas
Coming up with a great business idea can seem daunting. Where do you start? How do you know if an idea will work? Here are 10 tips to help spark innovative business ideas and set you on the path to entrepreneurial success.
Look to Your Own Interests and Skills
A good place to start is thinking about your personal interests, skills, experiences and knowledge. Starting a business around something you already enjoy and know well can make the process more engaging and increase your chance of success.
Spend time brainstorming all of your hobbies, past jobs, education, activities you participate in, problems you’ve solved for yourself and times when you’ve helped others. Write it all down. Look for patterns and promising intersections. A business built around doing something you love and are good at can be very rewarding.
For example, an excellent cook and photographer parlayed her skills into a culinary blog and food photography business. Don’t self-censor. Write down all activities, talents and interests for consideration.
Pay Attention to Problems Around You
Keep your eyes and ears open for problems people around you are experiencing. Frustrations, inefficiencies and needs that are going unsolved present opportunities. Listen when friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances complain about something not working smoothly. Is there a common gripe that comes up repeatedly? Think about how you could solve that pain point.
Browse Business Ideas for Inspiration
Spend time browsing business idea generators, entrepreneurial websites, small business forums and local in-person entrepreneur events. Seeing what types of problems other entrepreneurs are solving and businesses they are starting can spark creative ideas.
Subscribe to some small business newsletters or podcasts. Follow entrepreneurs on social media. Exposure to lots of different business concepts will get your mind working.
Look for Growing Trends and Changes
Study your industry closely to spot opportunities. Market trends, new technologies, policy changes and disruptions to business models can all signal chances to provide something new. Longer term macro trends around demographics, globalization and environmental sustainability may also provide inspiration.
Pay attention to competitors and how business models are evolving. Can you take part of an established business and improve it? Analyze how you can ride emerging trends, fill gaps competitors have missed, or disrupt traditional offerings.
Give an Existing Product or Service a Twist
You don’t always have to start from scratch. Tweaking, customizing or combining existing offerings in new ways can yield innovative business ideas. Can you personalize something to make it more unique? Tailor it to a specific niche? Make it faster, more convenient or more accessible? Deliver it via a new channel?
For example, taking traditional baked goods and making them gluten-free, low-carb, or vegan to appeal to specialized dietary needs. Or combining a physical product with an app for ongoing personalized engagement.
Consider Franchise Opportunities
Buying into a franchise can reduce some of the risks and unknowns of starting a business. While less creative than coming up with your own idea, franchises allow entrepreneurs to capitalize on an established successful business model.
Just be sure to thoroughly research the franchise, consult with legal counsel and accountants, and understand all the costs involved before moving forward.
Solve Your Own Problem
Think about irritations and problems you have experienced in your own life. Chances are good that if you’ve struggled with something, many others likely have as well. By solving your own problem, you can solve it for others too. Pay attention when you complain about something or try to find a workaround. Is there a business opportunity there?
Maybe you complained frequently about rude drivers in your city. This spawned an idea for a new ridesharing service focused on friendly and courteous drivers. Look for ways your own problems can become business solutions.
Talk to Potential Customers
One of the best ways to identify viable business ideas is to simply talk to potential customers. Get out from behind the computer screen and directly engage with the people who will actually use your product or service. Ask them about their needs, frustrations and desires.
Listen for common themes and feedback.
Find a Niche
Starting small and specialized is often a good approach. Find a niche market that is underserved. Offer something tailored to a specific demographic or geography. Cater your product to an enthusiast group or uncommon need. Narrowing your focus makes it easier to establish yourself as an expert.
For example, instead of a general parenting blog, one focused on adoption stories and advice. Or French cuisine catering just within your city versus nationally. Find your niche.
Validate and Refine
Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” idea immediately. The key is starting with an idea that seems promising. Then validate it through market research, get potential customer feedback, analyze competition, etc. Be willing to refine, change or combine ideas over time. An idea that starts out one way may evolve based on what you learn.
Be flexible. Ideas will likely morph based on what you learn. An initial concept may evolve into something quite different (and often better!). iteration is key.
Turn Inspiration into Action
Finding the right business idea takes time but pays dividends. Follow these tips to tap into inspiration through self-reflection, observation, research and customer conversations. Chase down ideas that excite you. Refine through real-world validation.
Don’t wait for the perfect idea – it will come through pursuit. Turn inspiration into reality.