Over the years, I've had a plethora of aspiring entrepreneurs tell me "I want to start a business," only to be followed with "...but I don't know what to start."

Some people are waiting for the perfect idea, while others are brain-blocked thinking about how to make money.

When you're thinking about starting a business, throw away all your preconceived notions about business and do these three exercises to help you get started. 

1. Think about where you provide value.

When I quit my job on a whim, I knew I wanted to start a business, but I wasn't sure where to start. I sat down and thought about the skills that I had. Even when working at a company, my skills had always been in project management for marketing and design work. I could balance many moving parts to help create creative campaigns.

Some of the most fun projects I worked on during my time in-house were design and press projects. I decide to take this skill and turn it into an agency providing these services to others.

When you are thinking of a business idea, think about where you provide the most value in the things that you are doing now. To get started, sit down and make a list of 10 of your skills. Business inspiration might strike as you remind yourself what you're good at. 

2. Make something for yourself or for a friend.

I've always loved making gifts for friends and funny T-shirts for myself. As I continued to make funny gifts, others would ask where to get them. I decided to put my gift ideas online to see if others wanted them too. To my surprise, people around the globe started to purchase my gift ideas.

When friends ask what kind of business they should start, I recommend that they first make something for themselves or for a friend. This takes the pressure off from having a "perfect" business product.

Get feedback from friends and family--do they like what you made? If so, ask them how much they would pay for it in a store. To get started, think of a friend or family member and then start by making them a gift. 

3. Think about a problem you can solve. 

Another great way to start a business is to think about a problem you have in your everyday life. Then, think of a solution to combat that problem. If you are brain-blocked on business ideas, poll your friends about their problems.

Next, think of how you can solve them. If you come up with a solution, you can quickly get feedback from your friends and insight into whether or not they'd pay for your product or service. 

There are many ways to start a business, but they all start with an idea. Spend five minutes today thinking of ideas for yours. 

Published on: Mar 18, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.