So you have always wanted to start a business, but you don’t have a good business idea. It seems like all the good ideas are already taken. You are beginning to agree with the saying that “There is nothing new under the sun.” However, if you look in the right place, you might be surprised what turns up.
The most common source of business ideas is work experience. Knowledge you gain from working for others help you see how you can improve on the business concept or perhaps integrate some of the business concept with other business concepts. Often the personal relationships you build in an industry make it easier to develop a new concept and to get a business started. Once they hear your idea, people in the industry often offer suggestions which could be just enough to make your idea a winner.
Hobbies are another good source of business ideas. If you find yourself so wrapped up in a hobby that others begin asking you for advice, you are likely an expert. Customers like to buy goods and services from others who participate in the same activities for which the product or service will be used. Personal service often comes from experts who can help direct customers to the most appropriate product for them.
You also can adapt the know-how from your hobby to create a new idea. Wayne Richie enjoyed developing sound systems for his car. He was so good at it he went to competitions and typically won with his creative designs. While working for a jet manufacturer, he suggested the company install sound systems in private jets. His boss did not think it was a good idea, but Richie was so confident that it would work that he began offering sound systems directly to private jet owners. It was a big hit and eventually led to the creation of Audio International, Inc.
Although you can’t rely on it, it’s also possible to find a good business idea through serendipity (accidental discovery). The key factor in finding an idea through serendipity is recognizing that an opportunity exists; you have to be aware of how a problem can be turned into a positive. Often entrepreneurs will start a business and begin down a certain path only to find a better opportunity around the corner. Watchful entrepreneurs will assess all potential business ideas and make choices that lead to success.
The final way to get you business idea is by deliberate search. I remember when Fred Bureau spoke to a group of business students, and he decided to start a business because it was the only way he could see to afford the large family that he wanted. He deliberately looked for an idea. The winning idea came when a friend was showing him how real estate offices showed cross-listings. At that time they used Polaroid photos in a scrap book. As you might image, the photos and listing information were frequently out of date. Seeing the opportunity, Bureau created a company to keep the information current. He named the company Multi-List which became the largest listing service in the industry.
Regardless of the source of your business idea, remember that having a good business idea is only part of the answer. A good idea must be commercialized before you and your customers can realize the benefits. Never shy away from asking customers to pay a reasonable price, especially if you have a truly good idea.
About the Author:
Calvin Bacon is the Director of Creative Services at Wisepreneur.com. His areas of interest include idea generation and innovation management.