Tuesday, October 5, 2010

5 Ways to Find the Best Small Business Ideas

I know this is a question a lot of people ask themselves when considering entrepreneurship. You may have thought of a few good business ideas in your lifetime only to discover that someone was already doing them! Or, maybe your business ideas were so far removed from your knowledge set that they seemed impossible for you to accomplish, nevertheless, you knew they were great ideas! 

Well, even when you have a great idea, just remember that there is a lot more that goes into starting a business than the idea. In the real world, ideas are a dime a dozen and your success as an entrepreneur really depends on the plan and execution. 

Today we live in an age with an overabundance of information. We must learn to weed through the bad information and find the useful information. I heard recently that the average American comes across something like 2 different million-dollar business ideas per week. The real trick is deciding which idea to run with! That’s why I’ve outlined 5 ways to help you find the best business idea for you by filter through all the excess information. So, here we go:

1. Ask yourself when you were a dissatisfied customer or simply unhappy with something. Maybe you received bad service at a local fast-food joint, or your oven light broke. Any time and any place that there is a need or pain, a business can thrive. Make a list of these pain points and consider how you might solve them with a business idea.

2. Focus on a business idea doing something you love. Chances are that whatever business you decide to go into; you will have a competitor that loves the industry and everything about the business. For example, say you wanted to sell designer toothbrushes online. Great, if you love toothbrushes! But, if you don’t and you just see it as an easy way to make money, it might not be the best idea for you. Because someone who eats, sleeps, and drinks toothbrushes could put you out of business quickly.

3. Consider if your idea is scalable. You need a business idea that you can expand beyond just a part time gig. For example, if you decided you wanted to sell tacos in the local downtown district, while your idea may be good for one person or a few, remember that the barrier to entry is very low. Not many people are going to want to work for you for an hourly rate if they can start their own business making more for themselves.

4. Ask yourself why someone isn’t already doing it or if they are how they are doing. The last thing you want to do is jump into a business too fast and waste a lot of time and money. Analyze the market and competition before considering starting your own small business.
5. Talk to people who could use your business idea. Once you have narrowed your list of business ideas to a few that you are really excited about, share them with people who you know that could use them. Be sure you get feedback from the target market and not just anyone because they happen to be the most convenient. In statistics, that’s called a convenience survey, and it’s not very useful. Also, don’t be shy in sharing your ideas, remember, that the real value in a business comes from the execution!

(Image: Some rights reserved,  Chuck Coker.)

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