I wake up everyday and jump out of bed because I have had that bolt-of-lightning idea strike me, and I need to write it down right away! People always ask me how I come up with so many ideas - for businesses, for blogs, for projects, for brands - my brain never stops.
But that’s not because I’m some sort of magical thinking genius or anything like that, and I didn’t always think like this. It has taken me years to learn how to really get good at thinking up, refining, and executing a great idea.
It’s something you can learn how to do too.
Your idea muscle gets stronger with exercise and use - working my idea muscle is what allows me to think of solutions and businesses on the fly. The more you practice thinking about your ideas, coming up with solutions, and fleshing them out, the better you become at seeing opportunities for business.
Being observant and aware goes a long way. Soon you’ll have more business ideas than you know what to do with.
Just keeping an ear to the ground and your eyes open to opportunity can lead to a great business idea.
What are people complaining about and asking for?
What problems do you yourself experience?
What little thing annoys you every day?
Turn on your business brain today and start thinking about things from a problem-solving point of view. You might be surprised how a change in perspective can open up many new ideas for you.
Like I said before, your ideas will become better with practice and persistence - you’ve got to make that brain sweat a little. Coming up with 5 business ideas every day (however improbable or dumb they may seem) will help you get into that mind set.
ACTIONABLE ADVICE: When you sit down for breakfast, try to write down 3-5 business ideas, services, or products. Doing this again and again will help you refine your ideas and you’ll get better and better at thinking of really good ideas. You’ll have a long list after a few weeks that you can refer back to, cross off the really dumb ones, and maybe even look further into the ones that stand out to you.
The important thing is to hold nothing back in the brainstorming process. If you know you want to start a business but aren’t sure where to start or what passion you should follow, don’t rule anything out right away. Maybe you know you want to have an online store but aren’t sure what to sell. Maybe you love writing but aren’t sure what to blog about or write a book about. Maybe you have no idea what you’d want to do but are dead set on escaping the prison of your 9-5 office job. Figuring out the details becomes easier when you’ve brainstormed enough to be choosy about what you end up pursuing.
Some people will tell you that following your passion is a bad idea - and maybe "Passion" isn’t the best word for it. But running a business you’re not interested in or enthusiastic about will be so difficult and boring you won’t get far either.
When I was first trying to come up with what online business I was going to pursue, I used a few methods to figure out what I would be good at, and what I would enjoy doing for more than 5 minutes. Start a brainstorm with me now and see where it takes you!
This could just be the beginning of your million dollar idea. Remember to let the juices flow and don’t hold back. This exercise is good practice if you’re not sure which direction you should go in, you have a ton of ideas but aren’t sure what to pursue, or if you have no idea what you’d like to do but know you want out of the 9-5 office job and want to strike out on your own.
The following is an excerpt from my eBook, Find Your Niche. If you are ready to figure out which online business you'd kick ass in, this is the guide for you.
Brainstorm your potential business concepts.
At this stage, you are just writing down everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about whether it sounds profitable or silly, just write! Don’t even worry about what type of business these ideas might become, just get the words out!
Make a list of all of the demographics you belong to (age, location, gender, etc).
Example of my own list, to get you started:
student (at one point)
in a relationship
Make a list of all of your interests and groups you are a part of (subcultures, sports, etc).
My list, as an example:
girls in bands
vintage fashion and clothing
Make a list of things that just plain light you up and make you excited.
Again, use me for a reference!:
Talking with other cool girls
Make a list of everything you are good at, knowledgeable about, educated in, and your special skills.
My list to get you started:
Degree in Sustainable Design + Business
By now your ideas should be flowing and some of the things you wrote down have probably sparked an interest in you.
“Hey, maybe I could help people learn how to…”
“Everyone says they like my handmade ____, maybe I could sell those” are all good jumping off points.
Without taking inventory of your skills, characteristics, and education, you might have felt lost and overwhelmed. Now that you can clearly see on the page in front of you how awesome you are, all the things you rock at, and what your demographic could be, start coming up with business ideas in your areas of interest or expertise.
This blog post is an excerpt from my “Find Your Niche” eBook. If you want more guidance and resources for really refining your idea search and niche business, check it out!