Small business assistance
Woman small business owner thinking of ideas

Business Ideas: Where Do They Come From?

If you believe owning your own business is right for you, you may have a few ideas of what kind of business you’d like to start. Many small business owners begin by making notes or keeping a file to capture ideas as they occur. Begin by saving marketing materials or bookmarking websites of businesses you admire. Envisioning the right target market, the best products, or services to offer, or the perfect way to convey your concept, all take research and time.

Ideas from Work

If you are already employed, you may find your best ideas come can be found at work. The time you put in working for someone else can be put to good use gaining experience for when you’re running your own business. You can learn from the mistakes of your boss or from his or her good example. Study how customers are treated, what marketing methods bring what kind of customer, how much they pay for the product, and how much does it cost to deliver it. Who are the best vendors working in this field? Whether your working for an accountancy firm, a landscape company, or a coffee shop, working at a small business is a great way to not only learn more about the industry, but how to run (or not run) a business.

If you are working for someone else and you want to start a similar business and become a competitor of your former employer, remember there are ethics to consider and poaching customers and proprietary information will get you in hot water. However, if you want to start a related business that covers an aspect of your industry not covered by your current employer, that opens the door to working with your former employer as a source of referrals for you. For example, if you’re working for a commercial landscaper and your employer regularly gets requests for landscape maintenance jobs he doesn’t want to do, you could start a landscape company that captures the business your employer rejects.

Ideas from your Hobby

Is there is something you’re good at and others agree and encourage you to do more? That may be a sign you’ve got a potential business idea. Many people have started a business when they got raves from family and friends. Making wedding cakes, sewing baby clothes, teaching guitar, braiding hair, or selling crafts on eBay or Etsy, all provide insight into what customers want and what price they’re willing to pay. Most hobby-based businesses can be a source of extra income, but they can also have the potential of becoming a fulltime business. Experiment by seeking customers outside your circle of family and friends. Give samples or demonstrations so people who don’t know you will give you a try. Make it easy for people to find you again if they want to buy from you or refer you to others.

A Need in the Marketplace

Anyone who keeps on top of the news, volunteers at a charity, belongs to a gym, attends faith services, or has children in school can observe the world and see how to make it better. Being an entrepreneur means thinking of creative solutions to everyday problems. Challenges are all around us, but most people just complain. If you feel you’ve got a great idea and you can make money at it, make an appointment with a business counselor at one of the Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers or SCORE offices and get advice on how to vet your idea and begin making a plan. The world needs your great ideas and your business solutions.

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