A Young Entrepreneuer's Quest

How to Generate Hundreds of Business Ideas

by Patrick Toerner on February 10, 2010

business ideas

So you want to start a business, but you aren’t sure what business to start?  Well fear not, because with this method you will be coming up with at least 2 a day without even trying.

It basically works like this, listen to people around you talk, and especially listen when someone says something along the lines of, “I wish there was…” or “This sucks…” or “They should make a…”  You have just stumbled upon a potential business.  If someone is unhappy with something or thinks whatever it is could be done a better way then you have a legitimate business opportunity.  That means at least one person would likely buy your product or service.  The old saying goes, find a need and fill it, and if you just listen to the people around you, you will be able to hear hundreds of needs.

Here are a few examples: “I hate getting lost while driving!” I’m sure something like this sparked the idea for the first GPS system. “I wish there was a browser that was really fast and didn’t crash.” I’m still waiting for this one :)   “They should make a computer that only does email, write letters, and go on the web.” This is a direct quote from my girlfriend’s grandmother. It got me thinking that something like this really could work.  Look at JitterBug, a phone and phone service specifically designed for senior citizens.  It has much less features, yet they are still making astounding profits.  The senior citizen market is huge, especially now because of the baby boomers.

So those were just some examples of things people could say, but even your own thoughts can give you clues to new business ideas. If you notice yourself thinking that something would be much more efficient if it were done differently, don’t just let that thought slip into oblivion.  Write the idea down, or record a voice note on your phone, just make sure you record it some way. I write ideas in my cell phone, then periodically go back and check them.

After you have been doing this for a while you will notice people saying things like the above all the time. At first it will be a little more tough, you might hear one or two every few days, but after a while, your mind will tune into searching for these type of sayings and you will find yourself getting 2 or more legitimate business ideas per day.

You will naturally notice that some business ideas are much better than others.  This doesn’t really matter because in a month you can come up with 50 or more business ideas.  Pick your top 7-10 and investigate them further.  Find out if there would actually be a market, estimate your profit margin, take into account if you would enjoy doing the work, search competitors, and basically see if each will be a viable business or not. You will likely eliminate 90% of ideas at this point, but no worries, you are left with the creme of the crop.

The next step is by far the most important part of your business idea. Do it! Start working. Write a business plan, get a domain name, register for a patent. Do whatever you have to do, but start working!  The best business idea in the world is worth nothing unless it is executed.

Have a better way to come up with business ideas? Let me know!

Image by annais via Flickr

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