To engage in business you must have a workable business idea. It is your idea that you turn into a business. Why is this? Because all inventions, products, services and businesses started with a single idea. Ideas rule the world. Examples here include Microsoft, Dell computers, Yahoo, Google, Amazon, Guinness, Honda, Toyota, eBay, Cadbury, Coscharis, Dhl, Prentice Hall, AIT, and the list goes on. And the fact is that everyone, all of us, including you, have got great ideas. The problem lies in:
i. Sifting the viable business idea from the unviable.
ii. Realizing that even the most silly or outrageous idea that you may come up with could in fact work.
iii. Having the courage to put the ideas to work.
Generating useful business ideas is a skill that can be learned, a courage that can be acquired. The more you practice, the easier it will be to come up with viable business ideas whenever you need them.
What makes a viable business idea?
Note that not all business ideas turn out to be viable business opportunities, most are failures. If wishes were horses beggars would ride. For your idea to be viable you should subject it to the following tests?
- Is there a market for it? How large is this market?
- Does it make life easier or solve a problem?
- Is it viable?
- If that product or service is offered by someone else would you pay for it?
- Can it generate profit?
- Is there room for growth?
Where to look for ideas:
- Research –Do a research or survey of, and, in your business environment to find out what will and will not work; what needs are been met and what are not been met. What resources and opportunities could you tap into, what customers’ demands and expectations are and what they are likely to be. What businesses are growing and which are dying.
- In-depth knowledge of an industry – If you are in a particular industry how in-depth is your knowledge of that industry and business?. Most companies do better than others because they are always thinking ahead based on their in-depth industry knowledge. This is where the knowledge economy comes into play. Try deepening your industry knowledge for then you will be at advantage to exploit all future opportunities.
- Listen to customers – Consumers and clients can help you identify what products and services they would spend their money on. Through listening and engaging in constructive dialogue with them you could gain insight into viable products and businesses.
- Your own problems – What problems have you faced in life and how did you solve them, what approaches worked. Are there many other s in similar situation and could your solution be of benefit to them
- The problems of others – What issues are of problems to people and what solutions could you offer. The shredding machine was developed to solve the problem of mountings of unneeded and used paper in the office.
- Personal interests – Channels Television in Nigeria was created by Tony Momoh out of his personal interests in the news business. So what is your passion and what are your interests?. Can you exploit those to create a business niche?
- Brainstorming. Company’s and corporations do this a lot. They call it strategy sessions. In brainstorming you gather good heads together, through the challenge or the problem and let everyone come up with an idea or solution to the problem. At this stage do not bother about the strategy. Worry only about the idea and solution you desire.
- Carry a Notepad. Ideas are sometimes fleeting. They come as in a spark and if you do not capture it on pen and paper at the auspicious moment, you may be confused as to what exactly it was you were rummaging over later on. Notice that good entrepreneurs and business leaders always carry a diary along with them. Leading bank executives and CEO.s will never attend a meeting without a note pad or a diary. Why? To capture any business idea or thought which they will later develop. Imitate best practices. Get a note pad and note down your thoughts, colleagues’ suggestions or fleeting ideas. They may as well turn out to be your next big hit.
- Ask. A popular adage says “He who asks never gets lost”. So if you lack the necessary ideas, why not ask others for one. Consultants exist for this purpose. You do not necessary have to re-invent the wheel. Remember Henry Ford. After all it is said “Management is doing things through other people”. Use the people around you, whether they work for you or not.
- Franchise: Another way to develop a business idea is to buy a franchise. A franchise is the right to do someone’s business in a given territory subject to agreed terms and conditions. A franchise spares you most of the start up problems as those who already have been tried and perfected by the franchisor.