I Want to Start a Business, But Don’t Know Where to Start

The New Year is here and it’s time to start that business you have always wanted to!  So from last week’s post, Secrets to Starting a Business, we know that it is going to take a lot of hard work to get started.  Remember – Pay Attention, Learn What to Do, Do the Work Now, Not Later. Now let’s say you are eager, ready and know you are in for a hard fight, but you don’t have a clue as to what kind of business you want to start.  Or perhaps you have a hobby or area of interest you’d like to pursue but no concrete ideas for products or services.  No worries, let’s talk about how you come up with your business idea.

What is Needed in Your Community?

According to Entrepreneur.com’s article Starting a Business: The Idea Phase focus on what you feel will work in your local area.  Even if this is a big national brand like Starbucks.  This is what Minneapolis based Caribou Coffee did.  They realized an alternative to Starbucks was needed that focused more on being a comfortable community place to hang out in their market and they now run the second largest gourmet coffeehouse chain in the country.

Look for Ways to Make Existing Products Better

“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door” is a phrase attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson.  While this is actually a misquotation of Emerson, it has served as a leading metaphor for innovation and invention.  As you contemplate your business idea take a look at the world around you, sometimes a taking trip to your local Wal-Mart of other big box retailer and strolling through the isles can bring inspiration.  Look for products that make you think I could do that better.  Also, listen to what others tell you they are struggling with in their lives.

Test Your Hypothesis

Once you have identified one, two or a few ideas that you think might be viable businesses, it is time to test your hypothesis.  Build a storyboard, sketch or even a mock-up of your product and talk to people you know and get their opinion.  Identify who might be your target customers and suppliers and get their opinion.  An excellent model that can be utilized for this was born from the tech world is the Lean Startup.  Entrepreneur and author Eric Ries has designed a simplified process to speed up the process of identifying the viability of opportunities. The most important item to remember while contemplating business ideas is know that it can take a while to find the right one.