Business means a person’s regular occupation, profession or trade.
Idea means a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
A Business Idea is a concept that can be used for financial gain that is usually centered on a product or service that can be offered for money. An idea is the base of the pyramid when it comes to the business as a whole.
Every great product starts with an idea. One of your greatest assets as an entrepreneur is the liquidity of your ideas. Average entrepreneurs monetize existing ideas. Great entrepreneurs reinvent the future with their ideas.
Those who dare to build the future need to think differently and dare the impossible. They take leaps of faith. They hypothesize around real and imagined pain points. They simulate the future by optimizing the present. They see things in a different way. They act.
In Africa, limited resources and numerous pain points emphasize the need for innovative startup ideas. African entrepreneurs need to create products that address everyday problems in the continent. The most valuable product ideas are not necessarily the most complicated. They just need to solve a problem that either a lot of people are willing to pay for or some other organization are willing to pay a lot of money for.
It doesn’t take a genius to come up with great product ideas, though. You just have to be observant and be human. Here are ways to break your conventional thinking and call up the light bulb moment:
1. Take note of things that annoy you
What annoys you? Is it city traffic or the stress of finding an apartment? When you think about the list of things you wish were different, the chances are those things also annoy other people. Keep a list of those things and find solutions that will make them better.
Keeping a journal is great for recording ideas. It also is a great way to structure and develop ideas. The only thing worse than not being able to come up with an idea is, not writing down a great idea when you get it. Because 99% of the time, you’ll forget it and then beat yourself up for it. There are numerous tools online that can help you with this such as Evernote, Google Keep or One Note. Keeping a few spare sheets of loose paper in your wallet or purse is a good idea, too!
2. Identify customer needs
The best products are the ones with existing customers. Find out the solutions people are currently looking for, then build a product around that.
The fundamental ethos of lean startup methodology is to find products for your customers and not to find customers for your product. Spend significant time to identify unfulfilled needs of a specific customer group. You can get an idea from their complaint. Build up on these complaints, and there is your business idea. Learn to read other users comments or complaints on any social platform that you have access to.
A good way to identify this is by reading customer reviews of existing products on Amazon, eBays etc. You’ll get a good feel for what people care about, their concerns, wishes, and interests about a product. And you may also hear a great idea or two in the mix. Build on the snippets of conversation you overhear to create a story and let that story lead you to a brilliant idea.
3. Get inspiration from a new environment
Visiting a new place is a great way to identify new opportunities. Traveling gives you the chance to observe the many differences between cultures. Such experiences can open your mind to new ways of providing value.
You might find out a different service or product that would be in great demand back home. There’s a whole big world out there of great ideas that aren’t yet in your market. If you see an idea you love in your travels, you can take it back home and give it a new spin that specifically addresses the needs of your market or community. Even if you don’t find inspiration, traveling will help take you out of your surroundings and refresh your system.
Inspiration can also come without travelling. Drive a new route to the office, try a new restaurant for lunch, take public transport, take up a new hobby, work in a different place, or listen to a different kind of music. Not only will it get you to think differently, you’ll meet and connect with new people—which is a great way to find great new ideas.
4. Become inquisitive
Start being interested and involved in what is going on around the world. Find minimum 30 minutes a day to read popular blogs, news portals or watch hot news.
Learn about startups that are launched and start growing.
Becoming aware will not take too much time but can help you to know a lot about different industries and innovations.
5. Read more books
Reading is one of the most effective ways to unlock new ideas from other people’s thought. It easier to get access to knowledge through written content than ever before in human history. Take advantage of that. The more you read and learn, the better you will become at putting together seemingly unrelated concepts.
Continuing to talk about the role of books, I should stress that good book is a great source of inspiration and getting knowledge. Reading can show you where to start! Books can help you to learn many lessons, give new business ideas and understanding how to implement them.
If you are a starting entrepreneur, here is the list of books I would recommend you to take into account:
– “Startupreneur” by Ebenezer Dare
This book is design to help you learn the process of starting a business, what are the requirements? What are those basic necessary things you should know as the chief operating officer of your named organization, information they say is key to everything in life. You can get the book on Amazon by searching for the name or the name of the author and/or you can contact me directly for the book. It is in e-format.
– “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
It is a required book for every entrepreneur, especially if you are going to build a digital product or a service. It describes how to launch successfully in the atmosphere of total uncertainty.
– “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh
I cannot describe in two words how inspiring this book is. It tells the story of author’s growth from idea to building a corporation through the concept of happiness. If you haven’t read this book before, do it ASAP.
– Definitely, “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
You will learn how to generate ideas and make them unique, rather than compete with existing markets.
6. Socialize outside of your circles
Hanging around the same friends can get you in a fixed way of thinking, leaving you generally uninspired. Take advantage of myriads of social and professional networks that are available online.
There are times when you are so close to a project that it creates a mental block for new ideas. Bringing in a fresh perspective can make all the difference. The refreshing perspectives new people give you will help you generate new thinking and possibly one new idea or two. Get someone who is not familiar with your project to ask you questions about it.
Get new experience. Try something new you never experienced before in your life. This can help you generate ideas. When a person gets in unusual conditions, new feelings and emotions received evoke creativity. Switch your mind from everyday routine to something new you always wanted to try. New atmosphere will make your mind to think about all pluses and minuses, find problems that need to be solved.
7. Find gaps in an existing product
You can get an idea by looking at what other people are doing. Here you do not copy other people’s product ideas but see what improvements you can make with it.
Find gaps. These could be a product as well as geographic gaps. Identify existing gaps in an established market is a good way to generate business ideas.
Netflix founder built a successful and profitable business by identifying an obvious gap in an existing market. The story of Netflix vs Blockbuster has been one of my business inspiration of all time.
It’s hard to come up with great ideas when your mind is crowded. Research shows that business leaders come up with better insights and breakthroughs when they are in a more meditative and relaxed state of mind. Meditation encourages divergent thinking which allows people to come up with the greatest number of possible solutions to a problem.
Create a quiet haven for your mind.
Commit to two hour-long sessions every week and you may find new ideas coming through. Don’t be afraid to be outrageous. Sometimes it takes being unreasonable to make anything innovative.