When you are trying to come up with small business ideas, it can be tough. Maybe there is an idea burning inside you, or maybe you have so many ideas that you are unsure about which one to pursue. But if you have nothing but a strong desire to leave corporate America, there are lots of places to look for business needs.
Start looking around you for small business ideas by making a list of your skills, your interests, and where you have networks you can leverage. Where do you spend your money? Is there a business or service you wish was in your community or available online? Look at how you spend your free time—could you turn a hobby into a business? What kinds of things are you investing in for your children? Could you start a business by creating a family fun venue, a tutoring business, or a kid tax service?
The possibilities are endless, so to guide your exploration, here is an 8-step process to help you discover your perfect small business idea.
8 Steps to Finding Your Small Business Idea
1. Brainstorm Ideas First
Take 30 minutes and write down all of your small business ideas. Then take a break and come back to your list and organize your thoughts. I am not one to crush anyone’s dream, but you do need to clarify which business ideas are actually doable, based on the resources and time that you have available today. You should also consider the industry trends to make sure you are launching a business in an industry that is growing. There are businesses you can launch on a shoestring budget. No matter what business you start, figure out how you can provide value to your customers; otherwise you’ll be like any other business out there, and out of business soon. Without a “secret sauce,” it’s going to be tough to stand out in the marketplace.
2. Niche to Get Rich
Regardless of what business you want to start, it’s best to focus on a specific niche target customer. For example, writing expert Stephanie Chandler developed the non-fiction authors association, to serve people who want to write non-fiction books. Niching means getting really clear about your customer personas, how you help, and how you will reach that particular customer online and offline. How to will you sell? Will you open a retail storefront, set up an online store, start a marketplace store on Amazon or eBay, or something else? What marketing channels will you use? Social media, email, Google AdWords or Facebook ads? How can you develop a content marketing campaign to attract your target customer?
3. Find an Unmet Need
What is missing in the marketplace? Could you develop a grocery store in urban markets? A product that stops kids from bedwetting? Plus size boots? A socially responsible watch company? Affordable glasses for kids? Mobile pet grooming business? Millions of dollars can be made if you create a business that really solves a problem for people.
4. Look at a Successful Business Model and Improve It
Success leaves clues everywhere. Sometimes you can see a successful business concept and then you can put a twist on it to call it yours. Selling shoes is not an original concept, but Uggs, Crocs, and Christian Louboutin red bottom shoes all managed to carve out a niche for themselves. Or maybe you could innovate how people buy the shoe, like Zappos selling shoes online with free overnight shipping on sales and returns. Think about it.
5. Sell What You Can Teach
Knowledge is power, and if you know how to do something that people really struggle with, you can sell your knowledge and make a fortune. Think Lynda.com, udemy.com, etc. If you are an expert in book publishing, getting freelance gigs, math, MCAT & LSAT prep courses, or something else, then you can use online courses, webinars, and ebooks to sell information online.
6. Look for You Must be Kidding Opportunities
Dirty job businesses pay big bucks. How about a business gutting fresh seafood, picking up dog poop, removing tree roots, or making sewer repairs? Or you could open a business as a gutter cleaner, power washer, or car detailing, etc.
7. Look at the Supply Chain at Your Work
What does your current company outsource? Is there an opportunity to become a vendor for your company? Look at your supply chain to see what you can pursue as a business. It would be awesome to leave your job with a contract in your pocket.
8. Get Your Business Idea Down to One Sentence
Once you identify your small business idea. You need to be able to describe it succinctly.
Use my XYZ method. I do X ______ for Y ______ customers and I help them achieve Z _______ results. If it’s too hard to get your small business idea down to one sentence, that should be a big hint that you have more work to do on your idea before you unleash it on the world. If this exercise is too tough, you might even need to go back to the drawing board and find a new idea.
Coming up with small business ideas can be a difficult process, but if you put in enough time really contemplating your passions and current industry trends, you could strike it big! Try out this 8-step process and see what amazing small business ideas you come up with today.