Want to quit your day job but no idea what for? Feeling the entrepreneurial spirit but no idea what to do with it? Overwhelmed by the prospect of starting a business from scratch?
Landing a business idea is actually not as hard as you think. If you think about it, most businesses are in business because they claim to serve and un-filled niche or do something better or different than the competition. And, more often than not, these businesses succeed (business planning and acumen aside) because they didn’t reinvent the wheel.
Here are six tips for finding a business idea and turning it into an entrepreneurial reality.
1. What Floats Your Boat?
Stuck looking for a business idea? Oftentimes the best ideas stem from doing what you enjoy doing most – which is why hobbies often lead to rewarding businesses.
Do you have a hobby that is an idea generator? Even minor hobbies can lead to innovation. For example, if you live for dogs, could you extend that love to other people’s dogs with a doggy day care or pet store? Also consider whether what floats your boat also has market appeal? Try to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes – what do they need, what can you offer that is different and would make their lives easier, happier, more productive or economic, and so on?
2. What Have You Got to Offer?
In addition to doing what you enjoy, ask yourself what aspects of your work do you do well and what you don’t do so well. Yes, you may live for dogs, but if communication skills aren’t your strong point, could you really deal with the sales side of operating a doggy day care? On the flip side, you may be a whizz with numbers, so could you still pursue this business idea but take a different role for yourself, perhaps on the operational side of the business while bringing in a partner to handle sales?
Knowing what you have to offer, and understanding your limits is essential to turning a business idea into reality.
3. What Do You Want?
One of the most important considerations when planning a business is pinpointing what it is that you want to get out of it. Whether it’s making millions, finding a better work/life balance, or just being your own boss. Will your business idea give you the life you want? Think long and hard about this. Talk to others who have made the leap into business ownership. At the end of the day owning a business that you hate is just as bad, if not worse, than having a job you hate.
4. What Trends are Hot?
Entrepreneurs always have their ears to the ground looking for the next hot business idea. And while, these ideas don’t always have to stem from what you already do, it certainly helps if you can combine a talent for spotting what’s hot with your existing know-how.
Take for example, a product called “LunchSkins*” – a simple, colorful, reusable, dishwasher-friendly sandwich bag.
Developed by three mothers calling themselves 3greenmoms, LunchSkins marries a conscientiousness among consumers to “go green” with a simple yet appealing variation on an everyday essential. And because each partner had previous experience in environmental marketing, design and business management they were able to successfully match their skills and passion to a hot trend – saving the environment with a funky cool product – that is now sold online and in retail stores in over 20 U.S. states.
5. Don’t Quit your Day Job Just Yet
Whatever idea you come up with, if you are new to business ownership, it’s a good idea to start planning or executing your business venture on a part-time basis while you are still employed. Not only will it allow you to test the water it will also help you build up a steady revenue stream so that when you do make the leap into business you are doing it with a base of existing customers and/or some semblance of a business pipeline.
At the same time, remember you are still considered a business owner even if your venture is part-time or on a CPA – and this means holding the appropriate permits, paying business taxes, and so on (see my next point for guidance on operating a legal business).
6. Making the Leap into Business Ownership
While starting a business is fraught with trial and error, one thing you can prepare for in advance is taking care of the legal and regulatory steps involved in starting a business.