Barry Dunlop
    Topics: Entrepreneurship     More posts about: business idea, ideas for business

Want an unlimited supply of profitable business ideas?

Or even just a good business idea?

This will help…

Big or small, every business began in someone’s head.

But not all startup businesses succeed.

Most will fail – often causing financial carnage along the way!

We don’t want that for you..

How to Come Up with Business Ideas

To come up with a profitable business idea for your startup business:

No1: You Must Identify A Winning Concept

This is where all great business ideas begin.

And finding a good business idea, starts with identifying a winning niche.

Identifying the right niche requires an open mind, time and patience.

It requires the entrepreneur to QUESTION themselves and their business idea.

Questions like…

  • What problem am I solving? (What needs fixing? What can be improved upon?)
  • What am I replacing? (Who serves this customer right now?)
  • Who is my typical customer? (Age, demographic)
  • How do I demonstrate my business idea to others? What is the USP? (unique selling proposition)
  • Who do I need to recruit? How many people do I need for MVP? (minimum viable product)
  • What other resources do I need?
  • What are the predicted sales?
  • How much growth potential is there in my business idea? (Will it still exist in 5 or 10 years and how may it change in that time period?)
  • Do I have the skills or can I acquire the skills to make this business idea into a profitable business?
  • What will be my exit plan for this business idea?

We will elaborate on some of the above points later in this article.

No2: If You Want Profitable Business Ideas: Be Mindful Of What You Consume

The saying “you are what you eat” applies perfectly when it comes to generating business ideas.

Steve Jobs once said:

“Creativity is just connecting things. So, the quality of your ideas will depend on the things you connect together. Connect enough good ideas and you’ll come up with a great business idea.”

Constantly seek inspiration, content and food for thought. Be selective on what you read, watch on TV, YouTube and who you follow on social media.

Constantly ask; Does listening to this “Guru” or watching this TV program raise my energy and get me closer to my goals?

You can’t come up with quality business ideas if you only consume junk.

Observe yourself observing content! (question why things are done the way they are.)

This quote by Zig Ziglar is a little dated now (in the age of Social Media) but the point is still a sound one!

Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs

While you’re at it, check out the Top 10 Motivational Videos For Entrepreneurs.


No3: Be Mindful Of The Company You Keep

Closely related to No2 and being mindful of what you consume.

Everyone you spend time with impacts your energy and creativity.

If you want to keep better company – Join a Mastermind Group (or create your own Mastermind Group).

I have had some of my best business ideas and breakthroughs in Mastermind Groups.

Similar to Steve Jobs and connecting ideas, I have a strategy I call “joining the dots”.

When I have an idea, and I am considering implementation, I will share it with my Mastermind Group.

Sometimes the feedback is enough to ditch the idea completely…

But more often I will get 4 or 5 additional ideas and suggestions on implementation (dots) which when joined makes for a far better business idea!

It is said that you are the average of the five people you spend most time with.

I believe this to be true.

Warren Buffett, the wise sage of Omaha says it beautifully…

It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.

Joining a Mastermind Group has allowed me to make many amazing business connections and friendships around the world.

No4: Be Mindful Of What You Put Out

Being mindful of what you consume goes hand-in-hand with what you put out to the universe.

Before committing to anything, let alone your business ideas, ask yourself:

  • Is it honest?
  • Does it benefit others?
  • Will it be perceived as positive?

From this practice, you may very well stumble upon the business idea of a lifetime.

Woo-Woo, Business Ideas and the Entrepreneur

This I believe: What you focus on is what you get!

But simply thinking and focusing alone rarely makes anything happen.

To succeed, you need to add one more ingredient – ACTION!

Thinking + Visualization + Action does make things happen.

I have found that focus plus repeating a goal over and over in my mind ensures I will take the necessary action to make my dreams come true!

The 3 AM Technique!

I’m sure this is not unique to me…

Sometimes you can overthink an idea or try too hard to perfect a business idea.

When this happens, the best thing to do is relax.

Give the idea some space, and stop thinking about it so intently.

Pass it over to the sub-conscious and leave it to germinate.

In my case at least, the fruits of that germination will often happen at 3 am or thereabouts, when I wake with a solution or idea to compliment my original idea.

It may sound odd, and even a bit woo-woo, but don’t be afraid to try it.

The results may surprise you!

Related: How To Live A Better Life – 33 Simple Things You Can Do

No 5: Keep A Business Idea Journal

business idea journal

keep a business ideas journal

This is more than a way to create ideas, it ensures you don’t lose them.

I often wake at night with business ideas and write them down before they’re forgotten.

An idea journal also provides a place to ask questions, note the answers, and reference them later.

In your journal you can ask yourself questions like:

  • Can I handle customer service?
  • What are my most marketable skills?
  • Should I start a product or service business?
  • Would I rather work from home or in an office?
  • Do I want a business with employees? How many?
  • Do I enjoy face-to-interaction with customers?
  • What current skills do I possess; which can turn into a business?

Finding these answers can cultivate the creativity to think up a successful business idea (or two).

Keep your idea journal nearby at all times; you never know when brilliance will strike!

Once it does, here’s How To Build On Your Good Idea.

No6: Be Present In The Moment

When coming up with solid business ideas, look at the present market.

Take some time to observe it as a whole.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s missing?
  • Why does it annoy me?
  • What would I change?

Looking for problems to solve in any industry can help you create plenty of useful ideas.(It can also create valuable PR when you launch)

Is there a certain market that hasn’t had any recent innovations?

If you already have a niche, identify what your present competition is doing and what you can do better.

You can also look for current products to offer for a lesser price.

Related: 12 Key Performance Indicators For Successful Online Business.

No7: For Unique Business Ideas Look Into The Future

If you can’t get new business ideas by looking at the present market, look to the future instead.

Think ahead and speculate where current market trends will lead:

  • What do they have in common?
  • What new technologies are just around the corner?
  • How would you use those technologies in your business? In your regular life?

Take, for instance, the new electric vehicle technology being developed by Apple [1].

What would that mean for the future of the commute and petroleum based vehicle market?

Are there enough charging stations? What is there to do at these stations?

How would that affect the way you live and travel?

While you’re at it, absorb these 15 Business Lessons From Richard Branson.

No8: For Business Idea Inspiration – Look Within Yourself

how to get business ideas

Another place to look for business ideas is within.

I know this is sounding like a self-help book, but you never know what ideas will occur after asking yourself what you want and what:

  • Calms you?
  • Excites you?
  • Frustrates you?
  • You can’t you live without?

For example, many people regularly become frustrated after misplacing their keys.

Is there a product on the market that allows you to find your keys easier?

Maybe there’s a lock that doesn’t need keys at all?

Find an answer to what frustrates you and you’ve got your next business idea.

Here are 21 Key Principles For Modern Business.

No9: Ask People What Frustrates Them

While you’re asking yourself what frustrates you, ask others what frustrates them.

As Rodney from the 2005 film Robots said:

See a need, fill a need.

Hang out with people who share similar interests and ask what they wish was in the market.

You can even send an online survey to friends and prospects asking about their wants and needs.

Sometimes it really is that easy.

Don’t think that you cannot compete with the big companies either.

Just look at where 14 Of The Worlds Top Internet Businesses Got Started.

No10: Apply Your Skills Elsewhere

Most people don’t know they’re sitting on a goldmine.

I’m talking about skills you already possess; whether or not you regularly use them.

It could be fishing, window installations, cooking, copywriting etc…

The more skills you have, the more ideas you can come up with.

This is why the truly wealthy never stop investing in themselves and learning new skills.

Take billionaire, Elon Musk.

He performs what’s known as knowledge transfer; regularly studying disparate subjects, then applying what he’s learned to innovate his businesses.

Seems to be working.

Speaking of Knowledge Transfer, here’s how to Make Money With Online Course Marketplaces.

No11: Hold Observation Sessions

generate new business ideas easily

Great business ideas don’t happen in a vacuum.

You need some way of getting your brain to think creatively.

Commit time to sessions where you stimulate your brain into thinking differently.

Some people go hiking, others grab a coffee and people-watch.

I like to go for a hike or a walk in the forest whenever I hit a mental block.

Nature, coupled with exercise, heightens our senses and add clarity to life.

Here are 18 Ways To Get Into Hiking.

No12: Expand Your Social Circle

Strangers don’t know you, which is why they’re called strangers.

They don’t know your thought patterns and stories, so you can revisit your inner monologues.

The refreshing perspectives will cultivate new thinking and possibly light a mental light-bulb.

Remember, you don’t have to agree with everybody about everything.

Discourse is how we grow as a people.

Here are some common types of discourse used in business:

  • Debates
  • Meetings
  • Management Theory (actions and nonverbal examples)
  • Written Correspondence (letters, memos, email, social media comments etc)

Everybody you meet plays a part in the discourse process.

We all have something to teach each other.

No13: Read More Books (Both fiction and no-fiction)

Most of us just want to pursue our BIG dream without getting caught up in the complicated world of business.

Good news, we can.

All we need to do is read.

Even if you can’t make the time for an entire book, hunt down a bookstore and spend an hour or two browsing.

You’ll find plenty of thought stimulation.

In fact, we’ve got a list of business startup books you could begin reading today:

Here are the Top 20 Books For Entrepreneurs & Why You Should Read Them.

No14: For Good Business Ideas: Meditate

finding ideas for a new business

Meditation is an essential aspect of the creative process.

We are so frequently distracted that most of us are rarely present in the moment anymore.

“Meditation is not necessarily about having an empty mind. It’s about centering yourself and learning to observe your thoughts without being consumed by them.” David Aston

Meditation is a tool any successful businessperson or aspiring entrepreneur should regularly use.

It literally boosts grey matter by increasing volume in the areas of the brain associated with self-control, positive feelings and emotional regulation[2].

It has also been shown to increase cortical thickness in the parts of the brain associated with maintaining focused attention[3].

A busy, stressed mind is unlikely to access the inspiration and efficient thinking required to come up with a business idea, let alone a plan, and then build that plan into a reality.

Regularly taking time to clear your head and become aware of your surroundings will open a plethora of ideas.

No15: Observe From A Meta Perspective

No matter what you learn, do or see, you can zoom your perspective out to a macro or global level and discover ways it relates to other things in your life.

Macrolevel analyses generally trace the outcomes of interactions, such as economic or other resource transfer interactions over a large population. It is also referred to as the global level.

For example, on a micro-level, watching Netflix is a fun way to spend an evening.

But by expanding our viewpoint and considering what’s happening on a macro-level, you’ll notice that most things we watch are packed with universal ideas about how to connect with an audience.

We can then apply those lessons to our content creation and brainstorming sessions.

These are the 14 Things Great Content Writers Do That Average Writers Do Not.

No16: Use Structured Exercises

Structure breeds creativity.

Simple exercises can get your brain working in a focused manner to yield great business ideas.

I have two tasks for you…

The first task:

With a partner, take 11 minutes (timed) to come up with 33 ideas on a specific topic or problem.

You may only think of 23 or 25 and that’s ok.

You’ll find there are at least two or three gems on the list.

Remember this…

Good ideas come along all the time. They help people solve minor problems in work and daily life.

Great ideas appear a little less frequently and require a little more work to execute.

Great ideas aren’t necessarily the result of highly paid think tanks or drug-induced vision quests either.

Often they’re unexpected moments of inspiration that help keep the napkin companies in business.

The big challenge of generating great ideas is freeing yourself from the conventional thoughts occupying most of your brain time.

The second task:

On a blank piece of paper, or a whiteboard, draw a grid with six columns.

Atop the columns, fill in six S’s:

First S is Story – Brainstorm as many ideas from your personal background as you can. For example, if your grandfather passed down the best trout fishing bait or steak seasoning recipe, you might be onto something.

Second S is Skills – What certifications or credentials do you have? What’s your education background? Starting a business doesn’t require an MBA as we’re simply looking to bring your existing skills to the marketplace.

Third S is Strengths – Perhaps you’re a gardener or have an eye for landscape design. If you’re struggling to identify your strengths, ask your spouse or a friend. Sometimes we’re too hard on ourselves to see the things we’re good at.

Fourth S is Situation – Maybe a local gym is shutting down, and you’re able to buy their equipment and supplies at wholesale; then resell it all online for a higher price.

Fifth S is Social – What do you enjoy doing? What would you continue doing even if you were never paid to do it?

Sixth S is Solution – Some of the world’s most successful companies started by creating a solution to an everyday problem.

In rows to the left of your columns, list your ideas.

Don’t be picky or overthink this; list as many as you can think of.

If you’re struggling, use the aforementioned six categories as a guide.

Once all of your ideas are down, begin working across the columns, and place a check-mark next to each idea that fits within the parameters.

If an idea only checks one of the six S’s, it’s probably not your best move.

Continue this process until you narrow it down to three to five ideas with the most check-marks.

These are the ones worth exploring further.

No17: Write A Business Plan

business plan ideas

You need a business plan to understand the details of your business idea.[Find Business Plan Template article here]

Writing a business plan can save you a lot of heartache down the line.

Writing and researching a business plan ensures you do a critical analysis your business idea. Maybe by doing a business plan you discover your business idea was not such a good idea after all.

Do a SWOT Analysis. (SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Hopefully, you discover your business idea has potential and is worth pursuing, rather than the other way round.

A business plan allows you to look at your business idea objectively and evaluate it based on facts instead of emotions.

But how do I plan my business?

This is the minimum you’ll need to accomplish:

Research – Learn about the industry and study your competitors. Find ways to improve what’s already in the marketplace.

Evaluate – Even if you love your business idea, look at it objectively. Ask others, preferably with business experience, to evaluate your idea. Be prepared to to pivot as necessary.

Implement – It’s important to have a list of actionable items with deadlines.

Get help – At the very least, consult an attorney, an accountant, and a marketing professional. The attorney will help set up the proper business entity and can also help with contracts. Speaking with a marketing professional can help with client acquisition and continuity.

Set goals – Instead of “growing the business” your goal should be something specific like: “I am going to earn ten new clients in the next 30-days.” If you want to achieve your goals, you must make them tangible and specific.

Start your business – Once you’ve done your planning, it’s time to start the business. You’ll make mistakes as well as great choices along the way. Use your mistakes as learning opportunities.

Stick with it – Many businesses fail because it’s easier to quit than push through the difficulties of growing. Succeeding in business without challenges is impossible. Being a successful entrepreneur is about overcoming challenges.

Adjust – You’ll regularly make adjustments in any business. Pivot is the popular word for this today. Each day you will learn more about your business, your industry, and your customers.

Be patient – It takes years to build a successful business. Give yourself time. Understand that everything you try or do might take longer than expected. But the fact that you are doing it is what’s important.

No18: Evaluate Market Demand

A great way to test a business idea is to understand market demand.

Can you pre-sell your product?

Find out.

Create a landing page with OptimizePress or Leadpages and run some ads on Bing, FB, Twitter, SnapChat etc…

If you don’t convert anything or get much positive feedback, there’s a good chance your business idea will flop.

No19: Study The Competition

First, figure out if there is any competition or an existing niche.

If there is:

  • What is the competitive landscape?
  • Can you sell your product at a price to run a profitable business?
  • Are you going to be able to differentiate your business? How?

No20: Understand Your Buyer

define your idea customer, customer avatar

Identify your target customer.

Once you have your ideal customer avatar, start conversations.

Listen to their needs and wants.

If you work with your prospects, you are far more likely to create a product they will buy.

One final and perhaps surprising thought…

No21: For better business ideas – get more sleep! (rest more)

Some entrepreneurs boast about how little sleep they need, but fact is that “normal entrepreneurs” (if there such a thing?) perform better with more sleep.

I find between 7 and 8 hours works best for me. You may be different!

To find out more, check out this Harvard Business Review article: Entrepreneurs Who Sleep More Are Better at Spotting Good Ideas

Plus this scientific paper – Sleep and entrepreneurs’ abilities to imagine and form initial beliefs about new venture ideas.

And here are the types of rest everyone needs: physical rest, mental rest, sensory rest, creative rest, emotional rest and spiritual rest.

Of these I consider “creative rest’ the most important when it comes to business ideas.

I can be considering a business idea or an issue in my business and going nowhere. But the moment I remove myself mentally and physically from the “issue” a solution often magically appears. Often this is when I am walking or hiking.

Not sure who made this somewhat contradictory quote – but it explains my experience of letting ideas come to me.

Not all great business ideas magically appear – but they do occasionally drop out of thin air!

The harder and more intensely I try to come up with business ideas, they less likely they are to appear!

I appreciate this last point may seen an odd way to end an article on “how to come up with business ideas” – but I have witnessed too many friends and colleagues burn out because they simply did not take care of themselves.

Hey, I have made that mistake myself in the past!

And I would hate for that to happen to you.

Of course, sleep and rest are not the only things that matter.

A healthy diet is also essential for entrepreneurial success.

More recommended reading:

-> 20 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Immediately Improve Their Health

-> Why Entrepreneurs Are Unhealthy & What To Do About It

Wishing you huge Entrepreneurial Success and A Healthy Life.

Team IncomeDiary!

Author Bio:
“BarryBarry Dunlop is a lifelong Entrepreneur, Business Coach and Sales Turnaround Expert who is passionate about helping business owners grow their businesses and enjoy a better life while doing it. To interview Barry or invite him on your Podcast make contact HERE or connect with Barry on LinkedIn

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