Published 14 July 2017 Category: Compass Tips, Entrepreneur, Business, Startups

Stuck For Business Ideas? Try These

Aspiring entrepreneurs often get stuck in the business idea phase — that is, they’re confident they could run a killer business, make a ton of money, and live the good life  -  if they could only come up with the right idea. If that’s you - the idea seeker  - we’ve got good news for you: coming up with new business ideas is actually pretty easy. Let’s go through some of the methods you could use to come up with your first (or next) business idea.

The Rip, Pivot, and Jam Method
Here’s how it works:
You look at another successful business, and copy their business model (rip)
 …but apply it to a new industry or vertical (pivot)
 …and then hustle like crazy to get customers (jam).

The Sniper Method
Some businesses are like shotguns and others are like sniper rifles. When you fire a shotgun, it sprays out a wide net of ammunition. In contrast, a sniper rifle fires a single deadly projectile. Both weapons have their time and place, but for entrepreneurs just starting out, it makes more sense to think like a sniper. For example, if Amazon is a shotgun; Gibson (Guitars) is a sniper rifle. Instead of selling every product imaginable, they only sell Gibson-made guitars, amps and accessories. That means they can do more targeted marketing and they appear more relevant and authoritative to the right customers.

The Shovels in the Gold Rush Method
Perhaps you’ve heard the advice, “In a gold rush, sell shovels.” The phrase comes from Sam Brannan, allegedly California’s first millionaire, who brought news of gold to San Francisco. But before he made his announcement, Brannan bought up all the picks and shovels in the city, so he could resell them to hopeful prospectors. And even though this happened more than 150 years ago, gold rushes still happen all the time. We’re just not looking for literal gold in the anymore; we’re looking for it in the form of the latest trend or hot fad.

The Intersection Method
The Intersection method aims to find potential service business ideas at the intersection of:
Your skills, Your interests and Your network.

To play around with this, get out a piece of paper and make 3 columns and in the first column, list your skills. It might help to refer to your resume for this one. In the second column, list your interests outside of work. What do you enjoy doing? Perhaps traveling, learning, music, or even parenting. In the last column, list the people you know, or rather the types of people you know (Tip: look for common threads on where they work and what they do). Next, you can play the matchmaking game to see if there might be an intersection to combine items from the 3 columns into a potential business idea.

The Scratch Your Own Itch Method
Solve your own problem, the saying goes, because other people are probably facing the same issue. Keep a mental note of all the things that frustrate you, that you spend money to solve, or that you wish you didn’t have to deal with. All of those are potential business ideas.

The Expert Enough Method
Are you the go-to person in your circle for tech support, photography, handyman work, accounting, BBQ technique, travel planning, or something else? If people are asking for your help, they think you’re Expert Enough. (Now they might not be willing to pay for you advice, but that doesn’t mean others won’t.)

The Probing for Pain Method
The Probing for Pain method can be incredibly profitable if you know how to ask the right questions. This generally works by calling up a business owner  - could be someone you have a previous relationship with or someone you’ve never met  - and asking questions like:

  • Tell me a little about your business?

  • What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry over the next 5 years?

  • What does a typical day look like for you?

  • What’s the most frustrating or time-consuming part of your business?

Your Turn
Which of these business idea generating methods could you use? Hopefully this post has your gears turning!