You’ve probably searched for online small business ideas because you want at least one of three things: freedom of time, money, or control.
And if you’re reading this, you’ve probably read a bunch of listicles that throw 36,000 business ideas at you:
Be a virtual assistant! A babysitter! An Uber driver!
You also probably closed those tabs in frustration because none of them consider the #1 one thing that will make a business succeed: You.
What you actually want to do. Your skills. Your passions.
In this post, I don’t throw 100 business ideas at you because… I don’t know you! Instead, I’ll show you a list of brainstorming questions to generate 100 business ideas that are actually realistic for you to do.
Let’s get into it.
An amazing online small business idea is made of two simple, but important ingredients:
Let’s break that down:
The best way to make a million dollars is to serve one million people. Kevin Kelly’s article on 1,000 true fans brings that quote into sharper focus:
If you generate enough value to get 1,000 people to pay you $100 every year, then you have a $100,000/year business.
Once you serve the needs of the initial 1,000 true fans, then you can expand outwards to groups that are adjacent to your initial group.
For example, if you help 10,000 people with $100 worth of products and services and you can gross $1,000,000/ year.
The essential principle of business—of occupation in the world—is this: figure out some way in which you get paid for playing.” — Alan Watts
Too many failed entrepreneurs are marketing-driven. They create a product first, then find a problem that that product can solve and customers to sell to. They believe that if they build it, the customers will come. Or that they can just pour more money to sell a below-average product.
Successful entrepreneurs are market-driven. They let their fans tell them how they can help. They validate their product and survey their potential customers for their willingness to put down money for a product before they go out and make it.
Successful entrepreneurs let the market tell them what to make and release to excited customers who line up before the store opens. Failed entrepreneurs tell the market what they want to make and release to crickets.
When people search for “business ideas”, they overlook an important source of those ideas: Themselves.
Their obsessions, passions, and strengths.
To help you mine your existing skills for business ideas, here are some brainstorming questions:
If you want to learn more about how to apply an entrepreneurial mindset to your current skillset. I recommend Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (amazon.com).
Another source that many people overlook when looking for business ideas are proven profitable businesses.
Investing in an already-profitable business takes away a lot of the setup stress of running an early-stage startup and figuring out a business model. All you have to do, really, is ask how much you really like the business:
Bonus points if you’re already a fan of the brand, the business model generates recurring revenue, or if the business is a big player in a growing market!
With these two sources in mind, here’s a step-by-step plan you can follow to get find your small business idea:
Prime your brain by having a vision, a driving force behind why you want to start an online business. Ask yourself…
Whatever your why’s and your what’s are, clarify them and write them down. Remember, a goal not written down is merely a wish!
Once you know why, how, and what you’re trying to accomplish with your online business idea, the next step is to find an idea that you can do.
To start, ask yourself:
These questions will help you figure out your passions, strengths, and skills. The intersection of these three things is where your best business ideas lie. These are the possible niches you could create a business in.
For example, maybe you like to go to tea shops whenever you visit a new city (passion). You also realize that your health-conscious friends have started asking you for tea recommendations beyond the usual Earl Grey and English Breakfast teas they have (strength). Maybe you could start a tea recommendation newsletter for fitness enthusiasts… And eventually, turn that into a monthly subscription box of herbal tea (profitability).
Once you know what you want and have an idea of what you can do, it’s time to look at what’s succeeding already to expand your knowledge of what’s possible.
Take as much time as you need for this stage. This is how you prime your brain for the final step of getting the best business ideas.
Once you’ve told your brain what you want, it’s time to let it get to work.
For the next 10 days, sit down each morning with a pen and paper. Push yourself to list out 10 business ideas.
By the end of the 10 days, you’ll have 100 unique business ideas on your hands.
They don’t have to be good ones. In fact, your first 90 ideas will probably suck. That’s OK. You just have to list out 10 ideas a day for 10 days.
Once those 100 ideas are in front of you, run each one through these filtering questions:
If you run an idea through these filters and it passes with flying courses, congratulations! You have a product or service that people will want to put down money for. And, more importantly, you’ll have a potential business that will help you achieve independence and freedom of time, money, and control.
If you don’t want to go through the entire exercise and want to skip ahead, here’s what you do: think of 10 interests that you obsess over when you’re not working. It could be…
..Whatever it is, start with that interest. Dig into communities that are passionate about that. Get involved in the community, whether it’s on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, or Facebook. Remember: niches!
Finally, learn how you can solve recurring problems that people are talking about — this is the problem part.
This quick method won’t give you as many options as the step-by-step method. If you want more on where you can find business startup ideas, be sure to check out this post on finding business ideas.
This entry was posted on Friday, June 28th, 2019 at 4:20 pm and is filed under New Business Ideas, Starting A Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.