Working on the right idea

How to figure out the right business idea for you.

Getting the right idea is the first step to starting a profitable business.

The process of using a business idea to create a profitable business entails innovation and creativity. However, creativity comes before innovation as innovation is born from creativity (no chicken & egg conundrum here). This does not render innovation unimportant as though creativity is what it takes to generate new ideas, innovation is what comes of applying those ideas in useful and valuable ways, leading to the birth of a profitable business.

Where do creative, innovative and valuable ideas come from?

Creativity can be learned and developed as everyone has the innate ability to be creative. To ignite your creativity and enable you to come up with valuable ideas, you need to identify where there's a union between your interests and a product or service that would be valuable to people. Researching your target market and yourself will enable you find the sweet spot where your passion and skills intersect to create value to a certain niche of people, thereby enabling you to create a business that can thrive.

Furthermore, in terms of your skills, consider how they can evolve. You can think of it this way: generally, most people aren't good at only a single thing as we tend to have multiple areas of competence. In fact, contrary to what many people think, becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn't necessarily mean you are exceptionally skilled at anything. Look for different ways to apply your current skills asides from those you're used to. Identify skills that are compatible and how a combination of all those skills could help people. An innovative and profitable idea is the result of these steps.

CASE STUDY:

Scott Adams of 'Dilbert' comic series

Scott Adams, the person behind the Dilbert Comic Series describes his pathway to success like this:

"I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humour and a bit of experience in the business world. The “Dilbert” comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created."

(Scott Adams, “How to Get a Real Education at College,” The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2011)

Where to get inspiration for business ideas

As said earlier, a variety of your skills could be useful in a product or as a service to a group of people. However, how do you identify ideas that are relevant in today's world? Some of your skills could apply to a problem that has already been solved and as such are not exactly revolutionary. How do you move past all the noise to find the ones that will stand out, while being a great fit for you? One way is to try to identify new opportunities from new technology or a change. A new invention is always a great place to start as chances are that new markets will also crop up from it.

Ask questions like: What is everybody using? What is the newest trend? How many people have access to this new technology? What is changing? This gives you an idea of the market and the niche that your business idea can come from. Ideas can also come from putting yourself in the mind of the consumer. As a consumer, did you ever find yourself searching for a product that doesn't yet exist? Or a service that could make your life easier but no one seems to be providing it? Find gaps in product and service offerings to consumers, particularly those you think more than one person would pay to get.

Tip:

Always make sure that you're thinking of profitability while thinking of your business ideas. Get familiar with evaluating if your current idea will be profitable by asking if it would benefit people so much, they would be willing to pay more than once for it.

Key takeaways

  • Getting the right idea for a business is important and this entails identifying a product or service that could be valuable to people.

  • Apply your current skills in new ways. This helps you evolve your skills thereby giving you more ways to use one skill.

  • Finally, identify gaps, changes, or new technology from which a business idea can be generated. Merge this information with your existing skills to align your ideas properly.