Brainstorming new business ideas (Part 1)

Coming soon Part 2: Starting a new business in a small(er) city/ town

You know you need to come up with a business idea, but where do you start? Is ‘loving’ to do something enough to lead you into a successful business?

  • Think about the lifestyle you want, as this is going to directly affect the type of business you choose.
  • If you want to be location independent, (maybe you want to travel), then it’s no good setting up a cafe, or a carpet cleaning company where you would need to stay in one place. You will want to come up with a business idea that can be done remotely, perhaps an online shop?

Examples of a lifestyle business could be:

  • Working as a virtual assistant (you could have your own website plus list yourself on sites such as Fiverr and Upwork).
  • Running a BnB or camping/glamping site
  • Operate a walking/hiking/paddle boarding tours business
  • Write a blog (sell ads, etc.)
  • Start a youtube channel review site.
  • Sell courses on Udemy

Action – Make a clear list of your ‘wants’ for your business

  • Should you follow your passion? Swap the word ‘passion’ for ‘interest’ and you take the pressure off. We tend to have lots of interests, any one of which could be made into a business.

Here are some ideas to help you think about what your interests might be:

  • What do you spend your free time doing? If I said ‘you have 2 hours to do whatever you want, and no one will disturb you’, what would you do? Watch a movie, read blog posts on a particular subject, read a book, go to a sports club, paint or draw, bake a cake? The things that we do, when we aren’t obligated to, give us an insight into what we are interested in.
  • What did you do before the career you  fell into? Like many people, your career may have very little in common with what you studied at school and university. A lot of the time we ‘fall into’ a career. If you go back to what you studied, it’s likely these were the subjects you enjoyed. Could your business be based on your earlier preferences rather than your current career? You will no doubt have transferable skills that will help you on your new path.

Action – Write down a list of what you do in your spare time for fun, what you could lose hours doing, what you enjoyed at school and what makes your eyes light up when you talk about it with others.

  • Which businesses do you like? Which companies do you look at and think ‘Oh I would love to do something like that!’ Why not? It doesn’t have to be exactly the same. No business idea is truly original, it’s usually either a twist on another idea or the same idea but done even better.

Action – Make a list of your favourite brands or businesses and what you like about them!  (Maybe one of them is even for sale!) Find your niche, then let customers define your sub-niche. A niche is defined as  “Denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.” Blogs, magazines, trade publications often feature up and coming trends which could be potential business niches. Or you can just use Google.

  • The idea is, the more niche your subject area, the smaller your fan base will be. If you have a very small loyal following, you will find it easier to serve them.
  • If you go too specialized at the beginning, the scope of your business may be too narrow. You will only ever be able to offer a limited number of products and won’t be able to scale it. A better option would be to define your niche and then see what customers are buying. If certain products take off, that is your sub-niche.

Action Research 5 trends within your areas of interest.

  • What problem can I solve? What irritates you regularly?
    • Many hugely successful businesses started because the founder was frustrated about something and couldn’t find the solution. Have you ever thought, ‘I wish someone would just come up with an idea to fix this!‘. Given the number of people in this world, if you find something irritating, it’s likely a lot of other people do too.
    • It could be that you have the skills to solve a problem for someone else. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are uniquely good at something, as it comes naturally to us! Does anyone ever say to you, ‘you are so great at <fill in the blank>‘?. If that’s the case, you could solve a problem for them and others!

Action  Spend a few days jotting down everything that annoys you or a problem you could solve for someone else. Will it make money, and does my potential customer have disposable income that they will spend on this product/service? 

  • When you are trying to come up with a business idea, ask yourself who your customer is, whether they have money and whether they would be willing to pay for the product or service
  • You don’t need a huge customer base to make money. As long as you have a group of people you can serve (and if this is online, so much the easier!), and they are willing to pay what your product or service is worth,  you could build a successful business. If you have 1,000 true fans who spend $100 with you every year, you will earn $100,000 annually.

Action  Take each of your interests and potential niches and write down who your potential customers are and if they have the financial ability to pay for what you are selling

  • How easy is it to set up? If it is quick to get going, you will see success much faster and gain motivation from it. The longer it takes to set up, the more likely you are to give up. If you want to get going quickly, then you may need to break the business down into smaller steps. For example. if you wanted to start a catering business, you could begin by selling home-cooked lunches to your work colleagues to understand what type of meals people wanted.
  • Your business idea really doesn’t have to be that ‘out there’. Most existing businesses provide what people need and are willing to pay for, but maybe you can put a new spin on it: adapt a product for a niche market.

Action  Take a couple of your business ideas from the earlier exercises and see if you can simplify them down to get set up faster.

No matter what idea you choose, your business will evolve so it is better to choose something and see where it goes. The idea itself is merely the starting point.

  • Just make sure that you choose one idea and one idea only.
  • If it doesn’t work out you can move on to the next idea, but just go all in with one idea first, otherwise, you’ll never know whether it’s viable or not.

Career Link along with Community Futures can help! Do you have an exciting idea for a business? Contact Career Link to learn more about how to get started! Call us at 604.485.7958.

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