Last week we looked at the Assessment Phase of starting a new business. This week, we will go through the Idea Phase.
Regardless of whether or not you have a solid idea of what you want to do, we suggest doing the following exercise, which will stimulate your development of ideas.
1. Are you more interested in a service-related business or a product-related business? (You can answer this a bit further down.)
2. Start a list called Things About Me. This list will include things that you like to do or things that you are good at. (These things will likely overlap.) The list doesn’t need to be business oriented. In fact, it should include personal things. Write down whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t necessarily need to make sense.
3. Start another list called Things I’m Poor at or Don’t Like to Do. Again, these could be business related or personal. Don’t overthink what you write down. Just jot them down as they come to mind.
4. Start a third list called How to Improve People’s Lives. On this list, you want to put all the products or services you can possibly think of that would improve people’s lives. You don’t just want to list them, though. You also want to prioritize them. The products and services you come up with should make people’s lives happier, easier, more productive or more efficient.
5. And make yet another list. This one will be called What Bugs and Frustrates Me. Although this list has “me” in the title, you can expand it to include things that frustrate the general masses, including various forms of advertising.
6. Examine your business life. What do you like and dislike about your work life? Examine yourself and the traits that people like and dislike about you. Ask yourself why you’re starting a business.
When you’re done with your lists, look for patterns to emerge. Is there a need for a business doing one of the things you’ve listed as liking or being good at?
7. Turn over as many “rocks” as you possibly can because inspiration can be anywhere.
8. Conduct online searches, but be creative with your search words. Take any interesting ideas you come across and expand them into your own ideas.
9. Good networks are invaluable. Develop networks in your family and friends, through leisure activities, business associations and former colleagues or wherever you can meet people.
10. Take note of people’s frustrations, as there are opportunities there. Keep your mind in “idea mode” by continuously looking, listening, digesting and storing ideas.
[Main photo courtesy of Joey Gannon on Flickr]