So you’re ready to strike out on your own and start your entrepreneurship journey. But you may be wondering: where is your great business, product or service idea going to come from? Here are five areas from which new small business ideas most often arise:
Approximately 60% of new business ideas come from our own work experience. We’ve all had a job where we thought something could be done better: an organizational system, an unnecessary step in a reporting process or a way to save time. These ideas and experiences are what help us create better products or services.
Your customers often have new product or product improvement ideas. Seek feedback from customers who are active in industries that interest you. They might have the ideas you’re looking for.
Don’t overlook people you work with, either! Products like the McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish, the Big Mac, Egg McMuffin and Hot Apple Pie were each invented by ideas evolving from company operators.
There are loads of business ideas within all levels of government, non-profit laboratories and associations. Your public library can help you find the government departments relevant to your business ideas. Organizations can help out in building upon your idea, too.
No, we don’t mean Moby Dick. Books, textbooks, research journals, trade magazines, patent registries, databases and the internet are all great sources of business ideas.
Five ways to inspire your small business creativity
Creativity is the ability to view the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated things and to find solutions.
Why is this important for entrepreneurs? Because creativity is not only the source of innovation, but also the source of new products and services, new industries, new ways of doing business, new business opportunities and ultimately wealth creation. All good stuff, right?
Here are five ways you can fire up your own creativity and inspire great things for your small business.
Set aside “think time” every day
Turn off all tempting electronic distractions. Read, garden, go for a walk, jog, sit and let your mind wander. Get into a routine of letting your brain loose at some point in your day — just not while you’re driving, please!
Write down all your business-related ideas
This one can seem daunting to many of us perfectionists, but don’t worry about how good, bad or strange your ideas might be. The key here is to set your mind free to develop a stockpile of ideas that might one day develop into something new or useful.
Think in opposites
What is a dog not? A dog is not a car. A dog is not a bird. A dog is not chocolate. Hmm — dog-shaped chocolates. That would make a good product to give loyal customers of your dog-grooming business. Get the idea?
Be a kid again
When was the last time you played with Lego? Did a jigsaw puzzle? Looked for shapes in clouds? Built a sandcastle? Kids are masters at creativity because of how they play, losing themselves in imagination and coming up with amazing stories and ideas.
Spending time each day in quiet contemplation may seem challenging or even counterproductive at first, but the more you practice, the quicker you’ll get at summoning your creativity when you need it. Try to “free associate” as much as possible.
Anyone can stumble across a new product or service idea. It could be the person you sit next to on a flight, or the person in front of you in line. Being in the right place at the right time was the turning point in the careers of many entrepreneurs, including Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey.