Do you want to start a business and don’t know how to brainstorm and generate profitable ideas? If YES, here are 50 sources of business ideas. For entrepreneurs, funding may not be their only challenge. A lot of people have money but they don’t know what exactly to invest it in. Truth be told, there has never been a dearth of ideas, all you need is a change of perception and the ability to see and perceive opportunities where others see problems.
For your business to remain relevant, there is a need for you to be innovative. The business world is moving at a fast pace, and in order to keep up, you need to generate innovative ideas constantly. Coming up with new ideas for your business is not an easy task. To start a business, you will need an idea. Here are 50 sources of ideas for a business.
50 Incredible Sources of Business ideas & Opportunities
1. From Past Business Experiences
An entrepreneur can draw on his or her working experience to get new ideas. For example, while working on a product, he/she can discover a way to make the production process easier, faster or more efficient. Here he/she draws on the experience that he already has to generate something new.
The human brain is the ultimate source of new and fresh ideas if well stimulated, and it is also said that two heads are better than one. Brainstorming is a group activity where members of a group contribute their ideas together about a particular topic. By coming together, ideas can be generated easily. At times, you may find out that a person has one half of an idea which when he lays before others can be completed by someone else.
A conductive location that is free from noise and all forms of distraction should be chosen for the brainstorming exercise. Before the brainstorming section, you should clearly define what you intend to achieve and decide what you want from the business idea.
Hobbies are activities that a person enjoys doing in their spare time. A hobby however does not have to be just fun, it can be a source of an idea that can be monetized. For example, a lady that enjoys baking cake may find out that she can turn this hobby of hers into a bakery business.
This type of business is likely to grow slowly from the hobby. However, the lady has to keep in mind that a business is more than just producing goods; administration of orders among other skills will be required to enable the business to flourish.
3. Identify and solve a problem
The essence of starting a business is to solve problems for a group of people in exchange for money. For instance, Smartphone manufacturing companies saw the need for a portable communication gadget to better the lives of people, thus Smartphones came into existence.
Ask yourself how you can better the lives of people in various niches. It was in the bid to create a faster and better means of transportation that cars and airplanes came into existence. You can try same today and come up with new and unique ways of solving problems.
An idea for a new product can be gotten by identifying problems that are already existing and proffering solutions to them. For example, if you find out that left handed people are finding it difficult to use a particular tool, an entrepreneur may invent a new variant of the same tool in other to cater for the needs of the left handed. However, you would have to consider if there will be enough demand from left handed people.
4. Conduct Market survey
What is a survey? A survey has to do with getting the opinions of different people on an issue or subject matter. You can conduct an online or offline survey. There are companies that can help you get the opinion of various people for a fee, (an example is the Surveymonkey company), but you can conduct the survey yourself.
First, you need to outline a list of information you need to obtain from your survey. An important question to include in your survey is to ask questions on how you can help your clients better. You can conduct a survey on your existing client base or customers or on random people. After you get feedback on your survey, you will get ideas on how to modify your existing business strategy to serve your clients better.
Careful analysis of a market survey can provide an entrepreneur with a business idea. A survey will help to enlighten the business owner on products that are viable and with a larger customer base. It can also expose the lack of a particular product in the market.
Business ideas can be gotten by acquiring both formal and informal education which will equip them with the necessary skill set and knowledge.
6. The Need to Solve a Personal issue or Problem
Problems, obstacles and frustrations that an individual faced in the past can be a source of inspiration for a business. Chances are that there are other people who are facing the same challenge that you have had. So, if you find a solution to that problem, why not commercialize it and make profit from it? For instance, if you are a developer and you find yourself in need of an application or software that does not yet exist, why not make it yourself?
7. Current Events and Happenings in the World
Events that are going on in the world can be a great source of ideas. Be up to date on the news and it will help to inform you on the current fads and demands amongst people. For example, in the early days of the Bitcoin, people who had up-to-date information about it took advantage of it and are now reaping plenty returns.
8. Look into your Talents
If you have a marked natural ability or skill for anything, it can always be turned into a business. Since you have a natural flair for it, you will easily succeed in it. Walt Disney was a very talented artist. In fact he sold his first drawing at a very young age. After trying severally to form his own company, he finally succeeded with the lunch of Mickey Mouse in 1928.
9. Meet Someone Talented
If you are interested in starting up a company, you can try to meet someone who is talented and start up the company with him/her. Proximity to people of like minds can always lead to a new business idea. Jerry yang and David Filo the founders of Yahoo, met themselves when they were at Stamford University and due to their combined effort, they were able to come up with yahoo. The website today is ranked as the fifth most popular in the world.
10. An already existing idea or product
A product which has already been produced by others and has been in use can always be a source of idea for an entrepreneur. By adding value to an already existing product, it can become something unique. You can also combine two products, services or ideas to generate something new.
11. Strengths of an individual
Taking time to discover and analyze your strengths can provide you with a business idea. Focus on your strengths and they will improve. For instance, if your strength lies in the promotion of companies and products, it can provide an idea to start a business.
12. Spot a Market Gap
An idea for a business can come from finding a gap in the market. In this case, a market gap is an important area in the market that is not occupied. Sometimes a particular niche is empty or the services and products that already exist are lacking something. By careful introspecting of the market, you can spot a gap that gives you a light bulb moment.
Reading newspapers, magazines and other business related publications can help one to generate business ideas. Also, discussions on the radio and television on matters concerning business can lead to new and fresh ideas.
A franchise is a business that is owned and managed by an individual but makes use of the brand of a more popular company. You can get an idea from a franchise where you will liaise with companies that don’t exist in your country and become the pioneer distributor for your country.
15. Shows and Exhibitions
Going to shows, exhibitions and trade fares regularly can be a source of ideas. By seeing what other people present at the exhibition are doing, an entrepreneur can come up with an idea of producing a similar product or to improve on what he saw.
16. Needs of Customers
The needs of customers can be a source of idea on what one should be doing to please his customers. For instance, if customers are demanding for peanut butter instead of peanuts, this will give the entrepreneur an idea that will eventually satisfy the yearnings of his customer.
17. Mingling with Others
It is said that chance favours the connected mind. By mingling and listening to what other people have to say, a business idea can form. This is doubly true when you socialize with people of high intellect and high business acumen.
18. Complaints and Frustrations of Customers
The complaints of customers should be encouraged as it not only leads to the improvement of an existing product, it can also lead to new ideas which can generate new products. When you hear customers say “how I wish that this product could do…”, then you have a potential idea in your hand.
19. Anticipate a Problem
While proffering a solution to an already existing problem is a potential idea spinner for an entrepreneur, anticipating a problem before it happens is another unique source of business ideas. Elon Musk foresaw a decline in fossil fuel; therefore, he went into the production of electric cars. Even if the market does not yet exist, you can create the market for the idea and be the first and dominant force to reckon with.
20. Reduce Cost for People
Another good way of coming up with business ideas is to think about saving people’s money. People now prefer to buy books on Amazon, not because they don’t like actual books but because e-books are cheaper. Irrespective of if a variant of your idea already exists, as long as it saves money for people, they will go for it.
21. Desire to Make Life Easier for People
Simple methods or products that make life easier are always a welcome development- be it a water proof speaker for your shower, a handheld steamer to de-wrinkle your clothes or a phone charger with long extension cord, an idea that makes life easier can always turn into a flourishing business.
22. Have an Interest in a Variety of Things
The more experiences, interests and activities you undertake, the broader your sphere of knowledge will be. A broad knowledge base will help you to create new idea or refine already existing ones.
23. Distribution Channels
People in the line of distribution can have better knowledge or insight on the needs or inadequacies of the market and as such, they can prove to be a good source of new ideas. Their suggestions about the unmet needs or the needs that are only half met can translate into a business idea for an entrepreneur.
24. The Patent Office
The patent office contains tons and tons of different ideas which can inspire an entrepreneur. Also existing patents are also readily available on the internet.
Extensive research on a particular field can help a business owner to come up with new ideas. By asking questions, gathering information, analyzing data about the economic environment, a business idea can emerge.
Companies can use its employees to generate fresh ideas. Recent studies have shown that the employees in an organization are responsible for about 45% of the ideas of the company. So why not put you employees to use? Rewarding members of staff that come up with good ideas is a sure way to encourage a steady flow of ideas from your employees.
Careful analysis of your business adversaries will reveal to you many things that can be used as ideas for your business. Studying your competitors can open your eyes to what they are doing better than you or not even doing at all. This will give you an idea for a new product or to modify an already existing one.
28. Look to the Past
When sourcing for new ideas, an entrepreneur should not disregard old innovations and ideas. Sometimes, poor evaluation may be the reason why an idea never takes off or it may be that the existing technology at that time was not enough to bring out the full potential of the idea.
Take for example the answering machine. Even though it was patented in the 1930’s, its recording quality and relative cost made it almost unmarketable. It was later in the 1970’s that Casio produced an answering machine that not only produced high quality audio but was also small in size and cheap.
29. Everyday Surrounding
Even though some people take their environment for granted, it can still prove to be a very important source of inspiration for new ideas. Some people spend so much time in their head that they do not observe the world around them. Encounters you have in your everyday dealings such as carrying out a chore, caring for a family member or even going to work can prove to be a great source of inspiration for new ideas.
Make sure that you carry a note along or your smart phone notepad so that you can easily jot down the ideas when they come. The more you expose your brain to external stimuli, the more it will take in, ultimately leading to generation of new ideas.
Although doodling is usually frowned upon and largely thought of as a sign of a wandering mind, this could not be farther from the truth. Doodling is the act of randomly drawing images, symbols or writing words. A study conducted by Professor Jackie Andrade in 2009 found that doodling improves memory, concentration, creativity and idea generation.
31. Take a break
When you find out that have hit a mental block or that you are in need of new ideas, taking a break may be just what you need. Don’t just sit on your chair waiting for new ideas; take a walk, a nap or do any leisurely activity that will help you unwind to clear your head.
32. Break the Routine
Routines can be helpful but they have a way of fixing the mind on the routines alone. Sometimes, the routine can get you to be so comfortable that your brain stops seeking for new ideas. Breaking routines will task your brain more by taking it to a new territory while allowing you to see things from a new perspective.
For example, if you are in the habit of waking up late, try waking up early to introspect or you can try a different restaurant, or drive through a different route to work. Look in unlikely places; you would be surprised where new ideas may be lurking.
33. Make Use of the Internet and Randomly Surf the Web
One of the best ways to come up with new ideas is through unexpected learning. Instead of just using Google to find what you are looking for, why not randomly poke around the search engine? You can make out about one or two hours in a week to just randomly surf the web. If you are using Google, try using the “I’m feeling lucky” button, click on the stranger results and exercise you brain a little.
It is no longer news that the internet has become a veritable tool to come up with world class ideas. This is because there are loads of the things that can help you get stimulated so that new ideas are born. The internet is an interesting place where you can go for fun purposes and also for serious business. As the world is now connected via the internet, surfing various websites can unlock several business ideas that you can look into.
The ancient art of meditation helps to clear the mind, relieving it from the thoughts and stress of everyday life while allowing you to focus on your future plans, how to solve problems and also generate new ideas.
35. Tap into your Dreams
By dreams I don’t mean aspirations and goals, I mean the type you get when you sleep. Extraordinary things happen when we sleep, when our unconscious state takes over. Sometimes we have random ideas from the dreams we just had and before the next morning, we have already forgotten about it. Learn to have a pen and paper near your bed and to get up and write down things you dream about.
36. Hire Someone
Another viable option for generating new ideas is to simply hire people who are good at coming up with ideas to do the “dirty” work for you. They may be individuals with extensive experience in your field, professional consultants or think tanks. This option will however cost you some money but more often than not, it yields solid ideas.
Eavesdropping on random conversations in the bus, at a restaurant, on an airplane etc can be a wellspring of ideas. You will get to know about the activities of others, their worries, interests and who knows what. You may get lucky and hear something that can spark up an idea from their conversation.
38. Combination of Already Existing ideas
Putting together two unique ideas can always give rise to a new, different and unique idea. By giving deep thoughts to already existing ideas, you can see the connection between them that can give rise to something new and innovative.
Whether you hit the gym, do some skipping or take a walk, exercise moves more blood and endorphins to the brain and round the body. Physical exercise will enable you to be more alert which will allow ideas to come more easily.
40. Listen to Music
Whether you prefer classical, blues or rap, music can help to awaken your creativity. Listening to music that you love can help you to come up with new ideas.
41. Sleep on it
Before you sleep at night, try to think about concepts that you would like to generate an idea from. For example, fill your mind with how to promote your new product or service and sleep on it. Make sure you keep your notepad or a piece of paper and pen close by which you can write down the idea as soon as you wake up.
42. Use Google
When you are in need of an idea about a particular concept. You can enter a few keywords of the concept in the Google search bar. It will automatically churn out some predictions to complete what you have already typed. The predictions it makes may just give you the epiphany you have been expecting. You should also go through some of the search results that inspire you for insight.
43. Read Extensively
Learn to have a voracious appetite for reading. Read books, magazines, journals, articles, novels, web pages etc. read broadly irrespective of the field you are in. The more you read, the more you will know. The more you know, the more your brain will be able to make connections that could generate ideas.
44. Family and Friends
Who else may help you look critically at your business ideas other than your family, especially if you are going to be sourcing for soft loans from them when the business kicks off? Also, your family and friends are likely to see what must have skipped your attention regarding the business idea in relation to your location and help point that out. You may want to consider asking family members to suggest business ideas that will fetch you money.
45. Go on a Road Trip
Every single entrepreneur knows that the likelihood of a business idea being triggered might lie in another location and so travelling is a fantastic way a business idea can be generated especially if you keep your eyes open for opportunities. You may want to rule out travelling by flight. Imagine travelling by road and seeing sceneries that are able to suggest business ideas to you.
46. Talk to an Expert
You may also want to consider talking to an expert on your intention of starting a business. How is this effective, you just might ask? This would be really effective because you might be able to get ideas from the expert that you can act on. It is very vital that you look for a business expert or someone related to a field that you may want to start.
47. Take a Shower
As odd as this may sound, a lot of people get brilliant ideas when they are in the shower. A lot of factors could be responsible for this. Usually, when we shower, we are alone and we have time to reflect with almost no interruption. The sound of the running water also creates a kind of white noise that makes concentration easier.
48. Change of Mentality
Most people are used to thinking the same way, therefore their brains keep generating similar ideas. In order to generate new ideas, you have to break away from the thinking pattern you are used to. You can do this by challenging a well known and accepted assumption, reverse thinking and by viewing issues from a different perspective.
49. Check Trends
Trends are defining for every business which is why smart entrepreneurs usually look to trends before starting a business. It will not make any sense for instance to think of starting a shave ice business in an area where health conscious individuals abound without looking for ways to produce healthy shave ice in order to tap into the health and fitness trend.
You can also generate new ideas by following new trends and ways of doing things. A good place to scout for new trends is via the internet. Most business owners use Google trends to stay abreast of trends in their niche and generate new ideas for their products. For instance, the trend of 3D has taken over the conventional way of drawing on 2D. You can never lack ideas for your business if you learn to stay up-to-date with new trends.
4 Things to Do Before You Go Sourcing for Business ideas
i. Stay Prepared
Although brainstorming is a conscious activity, but there are times when you get impromptu ideas. You need to always be prepared. To do this, always have a pen and a jotter with you. You never know when you will get an idea that will take your business to the next level. Take your jotter with you everywhere you go to, and write down every idea that pops in.
ii. Question What You Know
Most big Thinkers and innovators came about their big innovations by questioning what they know. They always ask questions like, why does this thing work like this? Is there a way to make this ‘thing’ work better or faster? How can this ‘thing’ add more value to people? Is there a way to make a cheaper version of this same product? These are the types of questions that will help you challenge what you already know and come up with better ideas.
iii. Think Modification
Ask yourself how you can modify your current product or services to serve your customers and clients better. For example, ask yourself how you can offer the same product or services to your customers and clients at a cheaper rate. You can also ask yourself of any additional features you can add to your product or service to give your clients better value for their money.
iv. Use The Combination Technique
Finally, you can come up with new ideas and ways of doing things by allowing your imagination take over. You are most likely going to come up with new ideas if you combine two things or techniques of doing things. You can combine your existing product with another extremely different product in the market to produce a new result.
People in the food world understand this technique better; that is combining two different recipes to make a unique meal. You can apply this in any other business or niche to get new ideas. Business ideas can come from analyzing customers’ needs, extensive research or they can even randomly pop into your head.
In conclusion, just bear in mind that coming up with ideas is a skill and like every skill on earth, it can be learned, honed and improved upon with constant practice. With constant practice and brain exercise, coming up with ideas will be an easier process with time.
Also, have it in mind that ideas can come at the most random moments, so, it is pertinent to write them down immediately they come else you may forget the idea forever! Most smart phones now have a notepad therefore you don’t even have to carry along a note book with you.
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