Looking for a business idea and wondering how to go about it?

Firstly, you need to understand why a business exists in the first place. The purpose of a business is to provide a solution to a problem. A successful business is one that provides a solution people are willing to pay for. The business is fulfilling a need.

Now you know you need to be looking for problems!

The easiest way to go about finding problems is encountering them in your everyday life. This could be ordinary everyday problems, or specific problems you encounter in your job or hobby.

Q. How do you know if you encountered a problem?

Either there isn’t a solution to what you’re doing and you are using a work around, or the product/service that you are currently using doesn’t address your need. That is, you could be developing a business idea that is new, or you might be improving on an existing business idea.

Q. What about problems that don’t exist yet?

Identifying future needs and creating solutions is the very definition of innovation. Consider what the next step is for a product or service. Look at current trends and consider what needs could be filled when new technology, social norms or economic potential becomes available.

Write all this down!

Write every idea you have down and keep that material close for when inspiration hits you. Mobile devices are great for this, as you can have the sum of work handily in your pocket. There are plenty of note keeping apps that serve this purpose well.

Q. Having trouble with inspiration?

Change your perspective. The basis of creativity is approaching concepts with a different perspective. Be willing to consider different ideas, immerse yourself in different environments, and learn from different expertise. This might mean learning new skills, hobbies, or past-times. Challenge yourself to keep growing through experience.

Listen to people. Get outside of your own perspective, and get feedback from customers, employees, friends and family, even the random person on the street. Learn what problems others are experiencing.

Challenge assumptions. It can be amazing what we take for granted. How many times have you heard of a business idea that seemed so obvious in retrospect? Look at your own assumptions and the ones we take for granted when using existing products or services. Why is something done the way it is? Is there alternative ways it could be done that are faster, cheaper, easier?

Outside expertise. The best ideas often come from people outside a discipline. It is the ability to come at a problem with a different perspective that leads to innovation, and in our increasingly complex world often groups of different expertise is needed to solve our complex problems.

Look to the past. You may be familiar with the saying that history has a tendency to repeat itself. As time and technology changes, old ways of practice can be forgotten. These forgotten ideas, especially when coupled with new technology, can become novel business opportunities.

Make mistakes. Making mistakes and learning from them can be a key ingredient to identifying a solution. Don’t fear making a mistake, but rather embrace it and learn from it.

Build on platforms. Platforms are increasingly becoming one of the dominant economic models. Fulfilling a need on an existing successful platform, means you have a ready and captive market for your product or service.

Q. Am I too old?

There is no upper age limit on solving problems. With age comes come experience, knowledge and more professional skills. It is a myth to think the majority of entrepreneurs are young. The majority of successful business people are over the age of 40 as they have the emotional maturity and skill sets necessary to see their ideas executed.

Q. Can idea be too ambitious?

No. Never. It takes big thinking to improve the world and you need that slightly crazy ambition to keep you going when the inevitable challenges come your way.

Q. I have lots of ideas written down. Now what?

You may have many ideas that you consider great. However, it is generally best to focus on developing only one of them at a time. Selecting the right idea is about making an informed decision and this is covered in our article ‘I have an idea…now what?’

Before you go, just remember that everything that you see around you has been thought up by people to help address needs. The next great product or service idea is out there waiting for you to grab!

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