Having a solid, growth-oriented foundation for business or entrepreneurship is great – but now what? You probably need a work desk, an internet package, some apps, and, of course, a business idea to get off the ground.
The problem? Good business ideas are hard to come by.
How hard? Nine out of ten start-ups fail.
And while there’s a lot of talk about how the people executing make or break a business, your idea is important. Even with the right mix of entrepreneurial skills, you’re unlikely to be successful without a good idea.
Ideas are where it all begins, and in order to become an entrepreneur you need to find a promising business opportunity, and then know whether you’ll be able to permanently escape from the 9-to-5 grind.
If you’re aware of the challenges and you’re still dead-set on practicing entrepreneurship, use the tips and strategies as a jump-off point to spark your own business ideas.
We’ll talk about:
- Imagining your ideal work day
- Finding a problem to solve
- How to choose between a product-based and service-based business
- Choosing your profitable business idea
- Imagine your ideal work day
The first step is to sit down and imagine your ideal work day five years from now. How is this helpful? Well, you’d be amazed by the number of people who aren’t passionate about their work or the number of people who’ve shared their aspirations for living a location-independent lifestyle but don’t actually want to spend time away from their families. You certainly don’t want to end up in the same boat.
For example, if you can’t live away from home, the idea of becoming a travel consultant wouldn’t be viable. That’s because travel consultants are known for their authentic, real-world knowledge of different destinations, and that comes with going to those places.
- Find a problem to solve
Now that you have a rough idea of your ideal working day (and a few business ideas), it’s time to discover a problem to solve.
No matter your skills, product genius, or sales and marketing chops, at the end of the day, your success as an entrepreneur hinges on your ability to solve problems.
Not just any problem, but a recurring one. Something that your target audience has to deal with all the time, and makes them wish that there was something available to make their lives just a tad bit easier.
- Choose between products and services
You’ve got some ideas about your own personal desires and some problems that need fixing.
Now we’ll narrow the playing field a bit more: choosing whether to start a product-based venture or sell business services.
The main difference between the two is that the product-based venture involves selling a physical item, while business services are intangible. Both types can be very profitable, and there are loads of entrepreneurs who’ve gone on to become millionaires with both product-based and service-based companies.
But as with anything, there are pros and cons to consider before getting started.
Launching a product business
Starting your entrepreneurial journey with a product business can require more time. Whether you choose to keep your own inventory or take the dropshipping route, you are ultimately responsible for your products’ quality, as well as figuring out what to do with returns.
When you launch a product, you just have to build or source it once, and then if successful, you can make money selling the same product as many times as consumers want it and keep searching for it.
There are several successful entrepreneurs who’ve made a solid living selling products. However, you have to be wary of the logistics involved, and be ready to jump through a few hoops.
Launching a service business
Starting a service business can be easier in some ways. For one thing, you won’t have to invest as much money upfront than with a product business. Online services, like freelance writing and graphic design, require just a computer, an internet connection, and skill.
Simply put, you can take your capital and put it into marketing rather than into stock, getting the word out and bringing money in.
However, you can find it difficult to explain your service to potential customers. In fact, the audience you pitch to may not be able to visualize what you do. You can counter this somewhat by highlighting how your service could save them time and money, but even then you may have to frequently rearticulate its value.
Also, much of your success will be up to you, so it’s you who’s going to go the extra mile to increase the sales of your business, not anyone (or anything) else.
Depending on where you choose to offer a service, you might need an office and a small team to make it happen. Launching and working out of your home usually means lower overhead and growing with a team.
Business ideas for ecommerce entrepreneurs
Now that you’re aware of the differences between product-based and service-based businesses, how about working out your idea muscle?
While you probably already have some really good business ideas in your journal to work on, you might have missed out on certain business opportunities that are in demand, easy to start, and can be fruitful.
- Pick your most promising business idea
The last step is integral to the entire four-step approach, as this is where you identify the best business to start. The ideal business will be the one that meets the following criteria:
Profitability: Can give a good return on your investment
You want to pick an idea that has the biggest odds of becoming a cash cow for you. We did a lot of exercises on trying to find an idea that meshes well with your interests and passions, but of course, you’ll need to balance that outlook with viability.
Possibility: Is easy for you to execute
This is crucial if you’re planning to bootstrap or create a side hustle, or if you don’t want to invest in resources for the time being. If that’s you, choosing something that’ll require a ton of capital right off the bat is setting yourself up for disaster. If you’re looking into tutoring, for instance, you could start an online business where you deliver lectures over WhatsApp or Telegram. It’d require less capital than if you were to start with an offline academy.
Interest: Aligns with what you enjoy
Preferably, it should be something you see yourself working on for the next few years at least, so your idea has to be something that’s not only going to bring in money but something you’ll enjoy doing as well.
Take the top 10 ideas you generated and organize them into three lists:
- Most to least profitable ideas
- Most to least possible ideas
- Most to least interesting ideas
Then cross-examine these ordered lists to see which ideas rank high for all three categories.
At the end of this process, you should have at least a couple of business ideas that you can really start working on tomorrow, if you wanted to.