Ideas are everywhere! Some of the best and brightest business ideas have come from people just going about their daily lives and finding inspiration. Other people say, “I wish this product or that company would do this,” and thus a new business is born.
So how do you develop an epic idea? How do you take a good idea and turn it into something great? Before you quit your day job, invest tons of cash and try desperately to get on Shark Tank, only to be embarrassed by them, you may want to engage in a few gut-checks. Let’s examine 8 of the key guidelines to both generate and build great business ideas.
Focus on the problem: This is the essence of ‘Starting with the Why’. Identify problems first and then come up with a clever way to solve them. This may include enhancing existing products or finding entirely new solutions. Most great ideas came from a problem that required a quick fix. Focus on your own area of expertise or interest. You will save time and hopefully find a problem that you can get excited about.
Walk in someone else’s shoes : If you could transplant your brain into someone completely different - a senior, a child, the opposite sex, a parent - you can see the world in a whole new light. For example, you may walk around the house or do your laundry with ease, but a person with mobility issues will have challenges. This new lens may help you discover new ideas for products or services.
Brainstorm without judgement : This is harder than it looks. No matter what industry or setting, the one thing that every group finds challenging is holding back that judgement and critical analysis. The beauty of free brainstorming is the way thoughts can springboard to new areas, ideas and opportunities. Just have patience with the process and spend that extra time with an open mind.
Think laterally : Every problem or idea has multiple dimensions to it. We just have to see them. For example if you want to produce a new “orange”, you can play with the size, shape, colour, smell, taste, aftertaste, packaging, distribution, way it is used by the consumer or to whom it is marketed. Try to find ways to innovate across every single aspect - like product, business model, position in market, manufacturing process and distribution - and then maybe think about how your product can be “green”.
Get feedback : Are you so in love with your ideas you cannot objectively criticize them? This is where other people can help. Talk to the people closest to you, but what you really want are people who are good listeners, well connected, accessible and with expertise. The more diverse your pool the better they will critique and solidify your idea. Your feedback team can then become the “buzz agents” for your idea and spread the word!
Do your research : Building a business case - and eventually building your business - takes a ton of homework. You need to be able to answer any question and defend against any critique. Make sure you research your idea and the benefits to your target market. Think about your company, your customers, your competitors and your collaborators. This will help you refine your concept and sell your idea more effectively.
Ask the right questions : This is one of the most important parts of the process. Is there a need for your idea? Can you make money fulfilling this need? Your idea doesn’t have to be a revolutionary game-changer that no one in the world has thought of ever. (Although, that would be nice!) It has to make sense and it has to have a market. So second-guess yourself and ask the big questions along with the thousands of small obsessive questions.
Build the story : The best business ideas have a story around them. You need some way to connect with your customer so everyone “gets it”. Imagine the first cell phone description - “It’s a phone that goes where you go”. It makes sense now, but that first person selling it was probably a great storyteller. This story will clearly outline the “unique selling proposition”—the reason people will buy from you and not the others.
So find that inspiring idea, build the case for it and start selling the story!