In their quest to find out how organizations come up with new ideas and convert these ideas into successful new products, services, businesses and solutions, researchers from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute arrived at an interesting conclusion. They discovered that most of the novel ideas behind successful projects were the result of “happy accidents” rather than formal idea-generation processes.
Perhaps this is why such ideas are not too common.
Nevertheless, because the entrepreneur in you is determined to succeed, nothing can or should stop you from creating your own luck.
Coming up with a winning concept is the first step.
To get there though, you need to start looking in the right places. Examples of these idea sources are discussed below:
1. Answering the question “What’s next?”
In doing so you may come up with a concept(s) for products and/or services that will cater to these needs. There are indeed plenty of successful businesses that have flourished because the entrepreneurs concerned foresaw future opportunities.
2. Earning money from your hobby
Many people have found entrepreneurial success by transforming their hobbies into businesses.
For instance, many food catering businesses are owned by persons who decided to monetize their love for cooking. Similarly, many people have found success in photography, fashion design, jewelry making, etc.
This article suggests hobbies that can make you a better entrepreneur.
3. Getting rid of a particularly bothersome problem
Think about one bother that makes you go bonkers. Most probably there are lots of other people in the same situation who are itching for a solution.
Marion Donovan, a Westport housewife, must have had enough of cloth diapers, enough to be inspired to design the first model of a disposable diaper.
Can you think of a solution that can double up as a business idea?
4. Identifying an untapped/new market niche
For a given industry, think about the various products and/or services that currently exist. What are the various requirements that are hitherto being catered to unsatisfactorily? Spotting and monetizing such opportunities typically requires some imagination.
For example, many of us couldn’t think beyond bottled mineral water. Some imaginative entrepreneurs did. Now we have carbonated mineral water and flavored mineral water.
5. Visiting exhibitions
At these events you will be able to interact with foreign entrepreneurs from whom you might learn several ideas that are yet to be exploited as business opportunities in your country.
Apart from inventors and entrepreneurs you might also want to engage with product distributors, sales reps, franchisers and wholesalers.
They are obviously interested in expanding their business to your country – who knows, you may end up running the sole local dealership for one of these companies.
6. Transferring your skills to an entirely new area
Imagine using your skills to create a new product or service that is a marked departure from what you are used to doing. The result could be a business idea whose success may exceed your own expectations.
In the movie “The Illusionist” the lead actor, a carpenter’s apprentice, uses his woodworking skills to create a lovely imaginative locket for the girl he loved. Such custom-made keepsakes tend to sell well.
7. Exploiting a market niche where innovations are scarce
There are markets where successive innovations are far in between. A creative entrepreneur can make the most of the situation by providing a product that users are likely to hail as being revolutionary.
For instance, scissors and manual clippers were for a long time barbers’ instruments of choice. The introduction of the electric shaver by Jacob Schick changed all that and ideally helped to revolutionize the concept of male grooming.
8. Launching a cheaper version of an existing product/service
This approach is really effective for startups hoping to compete in industries dominated by big household-name players.
Provided that your proposed product/service has proven that it can deliver, customers will definitely want to give it a try. It is for this reason that many industries are characterized by product differentiation and price discrimination.
For example, a man who cannot afford to buy a diamond necklace for his lady can always purchase one made with cubic zirconia gems.
9. Engaging with a product or service’s users
As a matter of fact, it is the users of a product or service who can provide the best feedback about it and also suggest whatever improvements they would like to become available in the market.
You can therefore decide to interact with people who buy a certain product that you are capable of improving upon and from these discussions find out what your new version of the product should feature and/or offer.
Sportswear giant Nike started out by making improvements to running shoes.
10. Scouring mass media for opportunities
The mass media is a treasure trove of information and ideas from which business opportunities can be created.
Wherever you look, be it on the Internet, television, newspapers, magazines, and so on, there is always information about the latest trends in this or that facet of our daily lives. Ads of virtually every description are always aplenty.
You can directly respond to potential business opportunities. You can also go a step further and visualize a new concept that you can package as a viable business solution.