It's one thing to want to run your own business but another coming up with a great idea and developing that into a genuine business opportunity. Some people are lucky and have that 'eureka' moment and are able to come up with a new product or service idea, but for the rest it's not so easy and often ends in frustration.
I believe there is a process to help you reach that ultimate idea to start your new enterprise, which I explain below.
This is the process by which you record your thoughts and ideas in a structured manner, which can then lead you to more and more ideas for development.
I suggest you use the Mindmap technique focussing on the following main areas to develop your thinking
- Experience - record here all areas in which you have a level of experience, that could be in employment or your private life. Make sure you log every experience no matter how small, for instance, don't just record your job description but every element of that job. You will be surprised at the results and you will start to see areas for potential business ideas.
- Hobbies/interests - record here all your hobbies and interests making sure that you complete as much detail as possible. Many people have started successful businesses that are closely linked to their hobbies and interests
- Family/Lifestyle - record here how you would like your lifestyle to be after you are running your new business. It's no good starting a business working longer hours than you are at present if you want to spend more time with your family.
- Finances - record here the areas where you could obtain finance for your business venture. A loan from your bank is an obvious one but you may have friends and family that would finance you venture, or even become a partner.
- Type of business - record the type of business you would want to run. Do you see yourself running a shop or are you more of an outdoor mobile type? You need to start the type of business you could operate for years without feeling trapped or bored.
- Idea bank - record here any current ideas for a product or service that you already have. Make you spend time thinking of all areas of life where you feel things could be better with a new product or service. At this point it does not matter how crazy these ideas might be as you can deal with this in the next section.
By now you should have a lot of information in the form of a Mindmap, take time to study your Mindmap to see the connections between the different areas and the potential opportunities and problems.
Now you need to start developing business ideas from your Mindmap by recording all areas for a potential business. For instance you may frequently attend a gym, so a fitness instructor is one business idea you should record. Don't rush this process but keep coming back to the Mindmap over a week or so, every time adding other ideas as they emerge.
Once you feel you have exhausted ideas in all areas of your Mindmap list, separately, every business idea for a product or service that has arisen.
Now spend time appraising each idea seeing whether it fits into your envisaged future lifestyle, preferred type of business and financial resources as recorded on your Mindmap. You will now have a smaller list of business ideas that you can now develop further.
You will now have a list of ideas or products in a general form which you now need to evaluate under the following headings.
- Existing/ new business - Can you buy an existing business or would you prefer to start a new business?
- New product/service - Can you develop a new product or service or can you improve on what is on offer already?
- Specialise - Can you offer a specialist service where you feel there is a need?
- Mobile - Can you offer a mobile service that would appeal to customers?
- Internet - Can you use the internet to develop your business, it can be a low cost route to starting a business?
- Part-time - Can you start your business part-time to test the market before going full-time?
- Start-up costs - Will it need a high level of finance for premises, vehicles etc. or is it a low cost start-up?
- Scaleable - Will you be able to scale up the business in the future without the escalating costs of staff, vehicles and premises?
- Profit - Remember the profit of the business is what is left after you have paid all the costs and yourself. Many people fail to factor in that the will need to generate an income eventually, especially if they hope to give up their day job.
- Exit strategy - Eventually you will want, or need, to sell your business, whether due to retirement or to move on to other commercial ventures. Is this a possibility or will your business be nothing without you, saleable businesses are a better proposition
So now you should have a fully evaluated list of business ideas to investigate further. This list will be ideas that fit your experience, interests, financial resources and lifestyles aspirations, so are all potential opportunities for a new business venture. You will need to spend some time investigating these opportunities assessing any competition and possible pitfalls before deciding on your final business venture or ventures. Good luck!