How to Generate a Business Idea

One of the usual questions we encounter as business counselors is “What is the best business to go into?” (Wait, what? If I know the answer to that, perhaps you aren’t talking to me now, and I would be doing that business myself). It may disappoint you but the standard answer to it is that, “It depends”. Why? Because there are lots of reasons why a business may succeed and making a standard template as to what is the ‘best’ business, may be counter-intuitive. For a start, you may want to to take a look at the following business ideas to get started.

200+ Business Ideas for Start-up Entrepreneurs

However, let’s focus on “It depends” and see what would tickle your brain to create that next million-dollar idea. Let us evaluate the internal and external variables on which “it” depends.

Looking within – the best business for you actually depends on you.

If you’re looking for a business idea, I think the best way to get started is to look within – who you are, what you know, and what you have. Look for products, processes, or services about which you already know something.

If you noticed, many of the great companies today are started by former employees who have direct experience in a previous job. For example, Joel Spolsky, a former member of Microsoft’s Excel team, is the co-creator of Stack Overflow, a popular Q&A site for programmers.

In your work experience, have you entered any work problems that irked you and to this date, still remain unsolved? Do you have an idea how to make the work process better, faster, or more efficient? Or perhaps, do you remember some lunch time conversations with your colleagues as to what business they think that are good these days?  By starting with what you know and what you have, you would not miss your goal.

Similarly, a hobby could become the basis for a full-time successful enterprise. Do you have one which you can expand into a business? Is it gardening? Perhaps you can sell some potted plants. How about photography? You may start selling your photos online, set-up a camera store, or start a blog about photography.

Technical training is also closely linked with entrepreneurship. You will do well to begin a business based on some trade skills such as auto repair and detailing, metal working, carpentry, or bookkeeping

Looking outside – what’s missing in the world can be your business ideation guide

Look around you. As a cliché would say, “How can you make this world a better place”? Is your idea viable? Can it be profitable? By looking at the total business environment, you identify business opportunities. In other words, you observe development and trends in the economy, demography and society as a whole – including political, ecological, and technological events.

What is happening the broad picture will greatly affect your decision on what product to produce or services to offer. Here are some ideas how you scan the external environment for business opportunities.

Find a business opportunity in every market need

One of the first things you should remember in trying to identify business opportunities is that all enterprising ventures answer, in one way or another, a particular human need. Whether is a product or a service, it must respond to what the buyers need or want.

Study demand and supply gaps

Find out how the present demand for certain products or services in the community is being met. Is demand for some items being filled by local supplier or producers? Find out whether or not local supply can cope with or totally satisfy local demand. If not, this may suggest that there is room for still one more in the business.

Capitalize on available resources

The availability of certain resources in an area can suggest business opportunities. These resources may be in form of raw materials, skills, information or technology.

Adapt, complement, reshape

Be observant. What are the people around you doing? Can you pick up something from it – with some modification?

Get familiar with the current economic situation in communities comparable to where you live. You can be inspired by a number of projects which have worked in these areas and which you can adapt to your own local situation.

Don’t just copy and imitate. Innovate! Innovating is improving on someone else’s idea to make it work for you. This might mean reshaping or repackaging goods or services to fit or match present trends or styles. Creative ideas may add or change a product’s features and thus add more to its benefits.

Explore forward-backward industry linkages

No doubt, there are a number of industries in your community. Find out what possible business idea you can pick up from what already exist. For example, a backward linkage of a meat processing plant in your area may spur agribusiness projects like poultry or cattle raising, transport services, supplies required for meat processing. Consider also going into distribution of poultry feeds, egg trays and other input to the poultry raisers in the community.

A forward linkage, on the other hand, would explore opportunities in meat packaging, subcontracting, or trading and distribution of finished products.

Screen and select the best investment alternative.

You may be able to identify a number of alternative business ideas. You may then narrow down the choice to two or three possible projects. Bust since you have limited resources, you can’t go into all many projects at once. You will have to screen and select the best one.