Have you been struggling to find a business idea? Or maybe you're on the opposite end of the spectrum and have too many ideas. "If only I could settle on one idea," you think. "Then I could get started on my business already."

Whether you have no idea or too many ideas, the problem is the same: you don't have that one idea.

Finding an idea can be a messy process. Sometimes, you'll find what once seemed a great idea not so brilliant after all. Other times, an idea might come up after undergoing difficult life experiences.

But if you're willing to go through the process, you might find yourself armed with an idea that could change both your life and the lives of those around you.

Here are the 3 steps to finding that elusive idea:

1. Brainstorm it all out on a piece of paper.

To begin, jot out your thoughts and ideas. Even if you think an idea sounds silly, put it down. Write out anything that you think is relevant.

Here are some questions you should answer.

  • What are your strengths? Think about some things that people tend to compliment you on, or things that you tend to figure out more easily than others. For instance, people might regularly come to you for fitness advice.
  • What are your interests? In your spare time, think of what hobbies and interests you enjoy pursuing. Maybe you like to read books on organization and productivity, for instance.
  • What are some problems? There may be issues that you've personally gone through, or problems that people you know have experienced.

Think of at least five points to write down for each of these three categories. If you think of one idea, it becomes easier to branch out into other related ideas. The more, the better.

2. Look at what real businesses are doing.

We'll often think of an idea that sounds brilliant...until it comes to the execution stage. Look at the list you created. Pick one idea that stands out and do some research.

  • Google: Search up your idea and see what comes out. Are there products or services out there that cater to a demand? Jot down at least five websites you find, and browse through any that seem interesting to you.
  • Amazon: Look up your idea or a product related to your idea. How popular are the items on Amazon? Take note of the reviews (especially the two to four star Amazon reviews) to see what people have to say. You'll want to see if there's demand and people's opinions on the current solutions available.
  • News sites: Take a look around on sites and find out whether there are opinion pieces or news about businesses that relate to your idea. What are the articles saying about the businesses? Is the idea viable?

As you go through the process, look at what kind of products and services are available. Are there businesses based on your idea that are operating successfully?

If you've come up with some roadblocks after doing research on your idea, it's time to go back to the drawing board and find another idea that might be more promising.

3. Talk to people.

If you've found an idea that interests you, and can be potentially viable based on your research, it's time to move on to the third step: interacting and talking with people.

While brainstorming ideas and researching them are a good way to begin, it's important to know people's experiences by talking to them. People are more likely to be honest about their experiences when speaking to you one-on-one.

So, talk to people who are in need of a solution to the issue. Find people, whether friends, family members, or acquaintances, and listen to their experiences.

If needed, rinse and repeat

Finding your idea is an iterative process. Sometimes an idea successfully makes it past all three stages. But more often than not, you'll have to go back to the drawing board.

If so, that's okay! The whole point of the exercise is to test out an idea before pouring a lot of time and money into something that won't work. When you put your ideas through rigorous testing, you'll know that they've gone through a filtering process, leaving only the gems.

Published on: Jul 18, 2017
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