Starting a small business must start with an idea…simple right?!
It’s a sad fact that many potential start-ups never get off the ground not because of a lack of ideas, but a lack of conviction in the right idea.
Maybe you know you want to start your own business but you’re just waiting for that ‘million dollar idea’ or the idea that’s going to make the most money.
Perhaps you’re not sure where to even start when it comes to business ideas.
Here are 5 simple steps to identify and get your business idea off the ground.
1. Start with YOU not the idea
Many people start with the flawed logic that they must first identify a business model that fills a gap in the market or creates a new market.
No wonder many would-be entrepreneurs falter before they even get started.
How on earth are you supposed to come up with that brilliant idea or model that no one has already thought of? Most of us haven’t got business Masters degree and loads of experience in entrepreneurship.
Yes it would be brilliant if this thinking and ideas do come to you off the bat, but most successful businesses start with something else.
They start with a burning need to do something that makes them happy.
A brilliant new business idea will struggle to succeed if the business owner’s heart wasn’t in it in the first place.
Your idea has to start with YOU.
Get out a piece of paper (yes a piece of paper – writing in good old fashioned long-hand accesses different pathways in your brain that typing on a screen) and answer these questions, from a personal and business perspective.
- What are you passionate at?
- What energises you and makes you happy?
- What do you love doing? AND What are good at? REALLY good at!
Don’t overthink these questions, just write your answers as they come. If you love reading comic books, then write that down.
Now answer these questions.
- What don’t you like about your current work life?
- What aren’t you good at?
- What do you hate doing?
- What drains you?
- What challenges to you have in your personal and/or business life that you would like solved?
2. What do you want out of a business?
Ask yourself why you want to go into business in the first place.
Answer it from a business and personal perspective.
Is your goal to have flexibility and the ability to play golf every Friday?
Do you want more time to spend with family?
Be clear about why exactly you want this.
3. Look for common themes
Review your answers to above and identify any patterns. Look for must haves/dos and must not dos.
What are your non-negotiables, what are your negotiables and answer the below.
- What kind of business would build on the things you want to do and are truly good at?
- Industry or sector; Retail or professional services; Online or shopfront or both
- Drill down into what products or services would help you with your personal and business challenges?
- What tasks in this type of business, that you don’t like doing or aren’t good at, can you get rid of, delegate or outsource?
- Double check with yourself will this type of business help me achieve my goals and make me happy?
4. Get specific and test your idea
This is where you get specific about your business idea and test it.
What problem(s) exist that your business can solve?
- Undertake some desktop research starting with the web
- Google key words or phrases talking about the problem(s) you’ve identified
- What are most commonly search for phrases on Google and Amazon
- Look on forums, customer service sections of sites, social media where people complain about specific problems
- Browse through communities such as Quora or Twitter
- What are people looking for funding for on Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter,
- Is anyone else solving these problems?
- Search online for key competitors (if they exist) offering these products or services and identify whether you can learn from or adapt what they are doing? What point of difference could you offer?
- What is happening in the industry you are entering? Is it strong? What key factors could affect your business? (search the web for relevant Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce, sign up for relevant newsletters or blogs in this field).
5. Confirm your business readiness
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
So far we’ve talked about ideals and what would make you happy, rather then what make sense from a ‘business’ perspective.
You do need to consider your suitability for starting a business and this business in particular.
Ask yourself if you have the right skills, knowledge and experience to run a business.
Do you have relevant industry knowledge, experience or qualifications? Do you need further training or skills development?
You need to consider your finances, legal and ethical requirements.
These business readiness questions can help you identify your business suitability.
Finally always go back to this question: will this business idea help me achieve my goals and make me happy. It doesn’t matter how innovative or disruptive your business idea or model may be, because if your heart isn’t in it, truly in it, it can never be the right business idea for you.
If you are have followed these 5 steps and are still full of enthusiasm in your business idea then it’s time to build a case for your idea. You will need to move to the next Step in Starting a Business: Research.