Getting a successful business idea
I recently read a feature in Entreprenuer magazine on successful teenage entrepreneurs in the States. These were 10 young people below the age of 18, running a business worth over $1million dollars. Impressive as the article was, I was mostly struck by the simplicity of their business ideas.
One idea was to provide exciting and colourful basketball socks, after the founder tried unsuccessfully to buy more interesting basketball socks. Another business was based on tooth-friendly lollipops, after the young entrepreneur could not find a sweet that satisfied her sweet cravings without causing damage to her teeth. Other ideas that created multi-million businesses were fashionable bow-ties and healthy nut butters. The common thread in these ideas was the creators’ ability to spot business opportunities from a gap or problem they experienced.
Not rocket science
Starting a business does not have to be overly complicated or even difficult. Neither is it a decision that should be agonised over. No two business start-ups are the same, for some entrepreneurs the idea comes first, then they build a business around it; other entrepreneurs decide they want to start a business and then look around for a idea. It doesn’t matter which approach is taken. The key consideration is that successful businesses are based on viable, well tested ideas. You need an idea to start a business.
Nothing new under the sun
I always hear wannabe entrepreneurs speak about doing something unique – something new. There is an incorrect notion that a business idea has to be new in order to be a success. This is not true. The Bible teaches that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). There are only different ways of doing what has been done before. This is called innovation. In today’s entrepreneurship climate, innovation is one of the best routes into starting a business.
Start with the same problem and bring a different solution, or improve the existing solution, or carry out the same solution with a different approach, or put your own unique stamp on that solution. There are various approaches to doing the same thing ‘differently’. You can create a niche by providing an existing business solution targeted at a specific people group. You can increase the efficiency of an existing product for example, make nut butter healthy or make a lollipop that is tooth friendly. You can add a promise to an existing solution, thereby creating a brand. Opportunities abound for entrepreneurship, all you need to do is open your world.
Here are a few ways to help you.
Open a book
There is no substitute for reading. Most entrepreneurs will describe themselves as lifelong learners. Read widely – and not just the authors you know. Pick up magazines; read auto-biographies; read online articles; curate tweets. Just keep reading. Fill your head with information and expand your thinking.
Open your eyes
One of the most difficult things I learnt as an entrepreneur is that you cannot grow beyond your beliefs. Before you conquer the world, you have to conquer your limiting beliefs and have a vision.
Open your ears
Always listen. Engage with what people are saying. Don’t be too quick to give your own opinions or solutions, always seek to understand. Have conversations with the people who have the problem you wish to solve. What exactly are they asking for? There are millions of solutions in the world to every conceivable problem, but people still complain. Find out why.
Open your mouth
Ask questions. Don’t remain mute or, even worse, make assumptions that you know. Ask the right questions of the right people. Always remember that your solutions are about people, not just what people want, but how they want it and why they want it. Asking these questions can help you innovate an existing service or product that provides a successful business
Ask everybody. Using online mobile-friendly surveys is a cheap, effective way of finding out if your business matters. There are a number of online survey tools you can use for this purpose. My favourite free tool is Responster (www.responster.com). You can create beautiful surveys with unlimited questions, unlimited respondents and unlimited links. One of the features I love is the ability to use logic in the surveys, thereby improving your analysis for each response.
Who are you following? Social media is as much who you follow, as well as what you say. On some platforms, following and interacting with key business leaders is a way of networking and opening opportunities for future collaboration. Retweet, Like, Love and comment, listen and respond. Don’t use social media just to receive, practise a lot of giving, and you will be surprised at what comes your way.