You're finally doing it. After thinking long and hard, you've come to the realization – it's time to start your own business.
You're full of entrepreneurial spirit. You've saved up and are ready to invest your precious money and time. You're 100% committed to the notion of becoming your own boss.
There's just one teensy little thing...you haven't figured out your business idea yet.
Why your business idea matters
Here's the thing. A business idea is a foundation for your new-found entrepreneurial journey. A profitable business idea is one of the most important factors that will determine:
- whether your business will actually make it in the long-run
- has any potential into turning into a viable source of income.
A successful business idea will bring you profit (although, not overnight – you will still have to work your butt off). It will also keep you excited and enthusiastic about your business even after spending numerous 24/7 shifts launching your new product.
But no need to panic – if you haven't figured out your business idea yet, we're here to help you.
There's no magic wishing well that grants awesome business ideas – and there's no need to reach out to business gurus either.
Finding a profitable business idea requires only a bit of your time, planning, and analysis of yourself and your skills. Without further ado, here are 5 ways that will help you find your profitable business idea.
Examine your talents and skills
Step number one to figuring out your business idea is to take a closer look at your previous experience, knowledge, and skills and put all of that to good use.
- Are you a great designer who can create eye-catching visuals that stand out and would be perfect for printing on t-shirts or phone cases?
- Are you a master of handcraft – from sewing to origami art – whose work always gets tons of compliments?
- Or perhaps you're an experienced party planner that you could start your own event planning agency?
Your strengths and what you're good at are all good starting points for building a business around it – as long as you enjoy doing that particular activity.
If you're not really sure what you're good at or what your talents are, do a little bit of self-analysis. Marcus Buckingham, the author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, believed that using our strengths makes us feel strong.
“Take note of the times when you feel invigorated, inquisitive, and successful. These moments are clues to what your strengths are,” he said.
Another option to find your strengths is thinking about it in terms of how other people perceive you. What do your friends say you're great at? Which skills of yours do they compliment? Or when they introduce you to someone new, what's the first thing they tell them about you?
Even if you're oblivious to your strengths, your friends, colleagues, or mentors might not be.
Find a niche you belong to
Oftentimes, the best business ideas lie within our own interests. Because when it comes to business, if you don't care about the topic at least to some extent, it's pretty safe to assume this will not be the most profitable business idea. You simply won't have the drive to develop your business.
So, start by digging deeper into your interests and hobbies. Make a list of 15 topical passions of yours by asking yourself these questions:
- How do you spend your spare time? What do you look forward to doing?
- What topics do you like to learn about most?
- What blogs, newsletters, or magazines do you prefer to read on a daily basis?
- What organizations, clubs, and online forums do you belong to?
- What's unique about yourself – your style, tweets, recipes, etc.?
Let's do a little bit of a brainstorm, shall we?
You're a crafts enthusiast who owns a Sphynx cat. Since the cat has no hair, it's always cold, and you want to make your creature, as well as others just like him, feel cosy at all times.
Business idea: cute cat sweaters for pussies who are always freezing.
You're born and raised in your hometown that you love so much. There have never been any souvenir shirts that do its inhabitants justice. You're a true patriot with a quirky sense of humor and love coming up with smart puns.
Business idea: merch shirts based on the coolest facts about your hometown that people actually want to wear.
Find a solution for your own problem
Another name for this strategy could be – “scratch your own itch”, and it's quite straight-forward.
Think of a problem you've run into, but haven't found a solution to yet. Is there anything that makes you angry or annoyed?
Now, if this problem is really important to you, your profitable business idea could be – finding that unique solution.
For example, you know how there's never a good place to hold your McDonalds dip sauce in the car? The creators of Saucemoto felt that pain and decided enough is enough – they have to create a product for that specific purpose. Thus, an in-car dip clip for ketchup and dipping sauces was born.
If no problems come to mind right from the get-go, give it some time. Take notes for a week or longer and see where you can offer smarter and better solutions to improve your own everyday life (and that of other consumers).
After all – no wonder why so many new moms have the enthusiasm for launching new businesses. They've just started raising a kid, noticing how mom life could be improved, and don't waste any time offering that idea for the world.
Take the kids wear brand WUF KIDS as an example – unable to find fun and comfy clothes for their kids, the store owners Toms and Madara decided to create such clothing themselves.
The bottom line is – use your background and if there's a hole, fill it with your great small business idea.
A great tactic that can help you find your profitable business idea is to search online communities for problems other people are facing, but you might not have even realized existed.
You can begin conducting your investigation on:
- Reddit. In this social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website, you can find, well, basically anything (from discussions about losing weight and healthy diets – to discussions about your favorite TV show character).
- Facebook niche groups. This is where you'll find people who are passionate about the things they believe in and not afraid to share their strong opinions.
- Twitter. People often use social media to complain about products and services, and Twitter is no different. Check out what gets on people's nerves to identify gaps in a market.
- Pinterest. Experts say that of all social media sites, Pinterest is the place to go to see the next hot product trends. Look at the comments under the constant stream of images to get you thinking creatively about business ideas.
What you have to do is – do a search using words and phrases that indicate the poster is looking for a solution or irritated by something. Here are some examples of such phrases:
- How do I...
- How do you...
- It sucks when...
- Can't seem to...
- Is there any way to…
- I hate it when…
- Please help
Scroll through the search results and keep an eye on the issues that are repeating themselves. That's how you'll know that there's something there and it's worth pondering this idea in terms of entrepreneurship.
For example, by searching “how do you” in the “Cats” subreddit (in other words – sub-community), you can see that facilitating traveling with cats is probably a niche to dig into:
Check out Google Trends
Google Trends is a free market analysis tool to use to figure out what's trendy and what people are interested in. As the name suggests, Google Trends tracks what terms people are searching for on the Internet and translates this into trends from 2004 onwards.
Here's how you can use Google Trends for finding a business idea:
- Go to Google Trends
- In the top left corner, click the ☰ menu, then choose “Trending Searches”
- Choose your target location and see what people are searching for in the area
- If you've already identified topics of interest to you, run your list of keywords through Google Trends. That way, you'll see how interest levels in those keywords trend over time.
If the interest is low, the demand might also be low (or you might face an uphill battle ahead of you trying to market your product).
But on the other hand, the interest is high and you notice a trend in your area, it's a data-based sign that you need to get started on that business right away (before somebody else snatches up the chance).
Finding a profitable business idea is no magic. It just requires a little bit of analysis, some patience, and some luck in the form of trendiness.
We'd love to hear what inspired you to start your business and how you found your great business idea. Let us know in the comment section!