Most ambitious entrepreneurs have the same major objective — for their startup idea to become the next big thing. It may be hard to imagine, but Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg were once in the same position as most business owners.
Coming up with an idea for your startup business should be approached with the same dedication as every other job-related task. The idea probably won’t come to you in the middle of the night or even standing in the grocery line at the supermarket. Although it’s a nice sentiment, idea generation takes organization, research and planning. Here’s how to get started.
Where the best startup ideas come from.
One of the strengths of technology in the digital era is focused on simplifying your life. The Internet takes center stage at helping customers meet their needs, whether big or small. It can also be our biggest source of inspiration. Start by reading about successful startup ideas. Many entrepreneurs share their stories, offering tactical advice that startups can take in their own idea generation. Take note of what has worked and what hasn’t.
The best startup ideas come from identifying problems.
For Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the problem was an expensive computer. They recognized that gap and built Apple I, then II and so on. For entrepreneurs today, brainstorming is a targeted exercise that takes as much creativity as it does concept.
Focus on trends in the areas you are interested in.
As a potential startup business owner, you have likely developed a niche based on prior experience, future potential, or both. Take the time to learn the ins and outs of that particular niche as you develop your passion.
Flesh out your network.
Think about the last time you were in a collaborative, lead-generating meeting. If everyone came to the table prepared with ideas, you’d likely walk away with at least one viable opportunity. Go to as many business networking events as you can. The more you talk to like-minded entrepreneurs, the more likely you are to hear about their pain points. There’s also a strong likelihood that you could find a potential partner to take on the startup business idea adventure.
How to ask yourself the right questions.
Sometimes, launching a startup business idea involves taking a risk. But there are questions you can ask to prepare and see if your idea has what it takes to get some traction.
What is your skill set?
Are you good at sales and marketing? Do you have strong writing skills? If so, you may consider starting a side hustle by consulting with other startups on their marketing efforts. Think about pairing up with other compatible entrepreneurs. Also, consider starting a blog or developing a website to market your skills.
What’s missing out there?
Whether it’s in your personal life or professional, this is one of the most important considerations for a new idea. While you may think that an idea has great potential, does anyone need it? Think about the gaps that you see in your life. If you have experience working in certain fields, what tool or service would have made your life easier?
What service can a small company offer over a large corporate competitor?
Small business owners have a lot of success in forming relationships with their clients. That personal touch can make a big difference, especially when you’re working in your local community. If you’re thinking about working for events, for example, that face to face contact is crucial.
Think about the questions that investors might ask you, if your startup business idea gets to that level. What sets your idea apart? Do you have a plan for growth? What kind of help are you looking for? Thinking this through early on can help you determine if your idea has potential.
The best startup ideas are simple.
Whether you’re looking for an idea to be your full-time passion project or just a side gig, it’s best to start small. Think about some areas in your life where you could fill a gap.
While it may seem like a challenge, coming up with a startup business idea is only the first part of a very long equation. Attempting to turn that idea into reality is where many entrepreneurs meet major roadblocks. Think about how many seemingly successful startups fail to find funding on popular shows like Shark Tank. In the vast majority of cases, those businesses are well past the idea stage.
The harsh reality is that nine out of 10 startups will fail. However, taking the time to develop many strong ideas can help you start to filter what has potential to turn into a true business, and what’s better left on the cutting room floor.