How to come up with a great business idea.

Find the right business idea and you could build a successful company that generates substantial profit. However, coming up with a killer business idea is easier said than done.

Identify a problem

Successful businesses solve problems by providing solutions. By scrutinising society and looking for problems you can start identifying potential solutions to everyday issues. You may wish to think generally or concentrate on specific markets; the more knowledge you have of the market the better. If you know that, for example, bike shops often struggle to remove chains quickly you may invent a product that allows them to remove and replace chains quicker than before. Thinking logically about what happens in the world is a great way to come up with business ideas; whether they’re commercially viable is another issue altogether.


Start thinking creatively

Creative thinking is a powerful way to make new connections and come up with new ideas. Do whatever works for you – try mind mapping or free association. You may wish to play relaxing music, breathe deeply and write down whatever comes into your head. Go down to your local library and read some books about creative thinking, then apply the techniques to your own processes. Creative thinking will help you not only when coming up with your business idea but also when you’re up and running and looking to become more innovative.


Look to your own strengths

If you’ve spent considerable time working in a particular industry, you may wish to consider entering the market yourself. This is particularly true if you have existing loyal clients, a range of business contacts and the potential to develop your skills further. Whilst you may looking to start a company for a change of scenery, bear in mind that setting up your own business gives you considerable creative leeway and you may find a renewed joy for your industry once you’re in control.


Stand on the shoulders of giants

Progression is often achieved by taking something and improving on it. Don’t be afraid to follow this route; you don’t have to be entirely original. However, you should be wary of copyright and intellectual property protection when considering improving an existing product or service. If your idea would infringe the intellectual property of an existing business then your idea becomes highly untenable. Take a look at our guide to intellectual property protection for more information.


Don’t be too ambitious

Whilst it’s important to think outside the box, don’t be tempted to think too ambitiously. Sticking to what you know is often the mark of successful entrepreneurs; if you have no knowledge of an industry then it’s not a wise idea to start a business based around that industry. If you do come up with a great idea in an area you know little about, either seek corroboration from an established expert or spend time learning about the industry. You may wish to seek relevant employment in order to bolster your knowledge.


Think commercially

Great ideas and inventions do not necessarily translated into marketable products. If there’s no market for your idea then you won’t make any sales, and if you can’t make any sales then you won’t turn a profit. Always consider the commercial angle when coming up with business ideas. Is there a market for it? Will people buy it? Is it too similar to an existing product? Is it patentable? Without considering how your idea fits into existing markets, you could potentially invest in a dead product or service.