One of the prevailing mysteries in the startup world is how to come up with your great business idea if you don’t have one already. There is no set system or tried and true list of steps that will automatically lead to killer business ideas, so this can definitely be a challenging endeavor.
One of the simplest ways to come up with a business idea is to use the following equation:
Find a common problem in your daily life + identify who is affected the most by this problem = create a solution that solves the problem.
Using this equation, you can come up with a list of business ideas. The solution that you come up with becomes your product, the people who are affected makeup your target market and the problem is what creates the need for, and value of, your product. This equation may not be create the game-changing idea that you’re looking for, but it will help you create solid ideas that have a clear value, target market, and product.
If this simple brainstorm exercise doesn’t help you find your killer business idea, watch this video and keep in mind that coming up with innovative ideas is usually a much more complex process. Eureka moments, where you go from 0 to a groundbreaking business idea in one moment of clarity, are extremely rare. If you want to come up with groundbreaking ideas, give yourself the opportunity to add to and combine your ideas with others over time.
For entrepreneurs specifically looking to create a disruptive business innovation, which are ideas that question the status quo of a given industry, there is a slightly different system. Instead of looking for a problem or pain point, a disruptive business idea is created by finding a mature industry in which the successful companies all operate on the same assumptions, and create a business that breaks those assumptions.
Even after using systems to create business ideas, developing them over time and combining them with other ideas, or taking the disruptive approach, there is still no way to tell if you are sitting on a great idea. At the beginning of a relationship with a new startup this past month, one of the founders asked me, do you think this is a good business idea? They were looking for a YES or NO answer (really a YES answer), but that question is much more complex than yes or no.
The reality is that the definition a good business idea is different for every entrepreneur, but there are two requirements that remain constant:
- Will the business, if successful, fulfill the personal and professional goals of the entrepreneur?
- Is the idea going to become a successful business?
The answer to the first question is different for every entrepreneur. Some of us are looking for a business that will simply allow us to support ourselves while doing something we love, others are looking to create companies that will revolutionize industries, disrupt the status quo and create fortunes.
The second question is impossible to answer. There is no way to predict with accuracy whether or not a business will succeed. The best thing that you can do is to create a complete, well informed strategy to achieve success by writing a professional business plan. A complete business plan will give you a clear picture of what success could look like (market research, goals and projections), and what you’ll have to do to get there (strategy).