Dear Aunty B,
I’ve worked for a small, entrepreneurial company for a couple of years now, and would love to venture out on my own.
The trouble is I have trouble coming up with great ideas for a business. Can you give me any tips on how to generate ideas for a new business?
True entrepreneurs have 10 ideas a second. Their problem is to shut off the tap. And why do they have 10 ideas a second? They are constantly seeing problems and think about how it can be solved (they call these opportunities).
The problems come first from their personal life. They hate their tampon boxes, they can’t get good fruit delivered to their home, they want to wear T-shirts with rude slogans, they want to buy red lipstick online, they hate the service they are getting when they travel, they can’t buy meat after hours and so on. So they go off and devise a better product or service.
Or they work for a company that is serving the consumer and doing a rotten job – the fruit juice the company makes is no good and fruit juice company employee thinks an organic product would work better. They believe they can make better muesli, chairs, coffee machines… Or they can do personal tax returns better, cheaper, faster and provide good computer service to people’s homes (now that’s a novel idea).
Then there is the business market. An employee might find he can’t work collaboratively on projects online so he designs a wiki and sells them to the world. Or he might be using a cumbersome software program and devise a better one. Or he might get a bad back on his office chair and think of a new product (ideas welcome!).
Entrepreneurs also look at trends. For example brand guru Tim Pethick is involved with a company that is creating a fat free potato chip and has tapped into the trend towards more healthy eating and the environment.
Or they might see a new idea overseas and adopt it here. A chain of gyms, Contours, saw the success of an express fitness franchise overseas and adopted the idea to the Australian market.
If you read Entrepreneur Online or Lunch with an Entrepreneur, you will find that every story starts with how they got the idea because that explain the niche they have targeted. You will also notice the personality of the entrepreneurs coming through the stories. They are curious, always asking why, how, what’s new, what’s changing. They read voraciously (they love SmartCompany’s Trends and Ideas) as they need to be ahead of the curve.
But Daniel, last words of advice – an idea is only a great idea after you do market research, then do a business plan, a marketing plan, a sales plan, raise the money, start the business and are a success!
So get busy!
Your Aunty B.