Six ways to generate great business ideas

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New businesses ideas are everywhere. Here are six ways to find your business idea and make it happen.

1. Know yourself

Starting a new business is difficult, if you are not passionate about your idea it will be tough to persuade others. Draw on your own interests and skills to build confidence. Larry Page used his Stanford dissertation to pursue his interest in mathematics and the World Wide Web and joined forces with Sergey Brin to create Google. Many people are uniquely positioned to solve problems and add value if they can identify the intersection of what interests them and what interests the world.

2. Know your customer

Second to knowing yourself – but equally important to success – is learning as much as possible about your customer. The more you interact with potential customers about your idea the less likely you are to hit a brick wall. You need to know who your customer is, understand their motivations, needs and problems, how your product will help them, how its different to competitive products and its value to the customer.

3. Make the most of your experience

The Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics in the US highlighted that 56% of founders attribute the identification of their business idea to their experience in a particular industry or market. In this context, interactions with customers are one of the biggest sources of new ideas.

4. Take note

Richard Branson is one of many successful entrepreneurs who believe that if you want to be successful then carry a notebook.  Simply noting down and reviewing everyday observations, customer comments, key phrases and ideas can be very effective and help spark new business ideas. A good notebook – paper or electronic – can train your brain to think more creatively and effectively, find patterns and solve problems. If you really want to go to town, carry some scissors and glue and stick in photos or cuttings from magazines that catch your attention.

5. Tap into your network

Innovation is a contact sport and new business ideas are often developed with collective knowledge and in social environments. Startup entrepreneurs often make the most of their networks to help develop and kick about their ideas. Talk to people with experience 

in your target industry or market, attend industry conferences and also try ‘walking in different worlds’ and speak with people from completely different industries – sometimes this can spark a whole new approach and new angles.

6. Make the leap, get out and talk customers

It’s no trick to come up with a new business idea, the trick is to make it happen. Taking the first steps to implementing your idea will build on your current thoughts, lead to further insights, and focus in on what the customer really wants. Start walking the talk and the idea will soon develop or change entirely – you cannot predict where things might go, as Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank would say you need to get out of the office and start testing customer reaction.

Colin Graham