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Types of Businesses to Start

8 Ways to Come Up With a Business Idea

The start of the year is a great time to gear up to start a business. But, of course, you first need to figure out a winning concept.

Jane Porter

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“You have to come up with a lot of ideas to be successful,” says Stephen Key, co-founder of the website inventright.com based in Nevada, and author of One Simple Idea for Startups and Entrepreneurs: Live Your Dreams and Create Your Own Profitable Company, (McGraw-Hill, 2012).

Key, who has licensed more than 20 products in the last 25 years, says he generates ideas by finding different ways to engage his mind, from walking the aisles of stores to brainstorming about holes in the marketplace.

Here are eight techniques from Key and other experts that could help get your creative juices flowing:

Ask yourself, “What’s next?”

Successful business ideas are often ahead of the curve. Think about trends and technologies on the horizon and how you might move into those areas, says Sergio Monsalve, partner at Norwest Venture Partners, a California-based venture capital group.

He suggests, for example, thinking about innovations related to the living room and home entertainment systems now that companies like Apple are developing new television technologies. “What can that mean in terms of new ways to live in your house and be entertained?” he says.

Related: Which Business Should I Start?

Do something about what bugs you.

When Colin Barceloux was in college, he thought textbooks cost far too much. In 2007, two years after graduating, he decided to take action and founded Bookrenter.com, a California based business that offers textbook rentals at about a 60% discount.

What began as a one-man operation created out of frustration now has 1.5 million users and 200 employees. “You just have to look at what frustrates you,” he says. “There’s your business idea right there.”

Look for new niches.

Your business idea doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at what some of the big players in an industry are missing and figure out if you can fill the gaps, Key says.

In 2003, for instance, he started the company Hot Picks, now based in California, after realising the major brands in the guitar pick industry weren’t offering collectible novelty picks.

Key designed a skull-shaped pick that filled an empty niche and was sold in 1 000 stores, including Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven. “The big guys leave a tremendous amount of opportunity on the table,” he says.

Apply your skills to an entirely new field.

Think about your skills and whether they might be useful in a new area, suggests Bill Fischer, professor of innovation management at IMD, the top-rated Swiss business school, and co-author of The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen (Jossey-Bass, 2011).

Consider, for example, JMC Soundboard, a Switzerland-based company that builds high-end loudspeakers. Jeanmichel Capt invented the speaker by applying his experience building guitars as a luthier, using the same resonance spruce to create a loudspeaker that produces a high-quality sound and looks like a sleek wood panel.

There’s also Rhode Island-based Dear Kate, a company founded by Julie Sygiel, who used her training in chemical engineering to create a stain-resistant, leak-proof underwear material that active women can use without worrying about menstrual leakage during a workout.

Related: (Video) 10 Wacky Business Ideas that Made Millions

Find a category lacking recent innovations.

When coming up with ideas, Key likes to identify markets that haven’t had many recent innovations. For example, when he realized there were few new developments in the product information label business, he created Spinformation, a label consisting of two layers — a top layer that rotates with open panels through which you can see, and a bottom label that you can read by spinning the top layer over it.

Companies needing to fit more information about a medication, for example, could use the extra label space for the details.

Make a cheaper version of an existing product.

Companies often get their start by offering customers an existing product at a lower price. Take Warby Parker, an eyeglasses company launched in 2010 by four business school friends. The New York-based business sells prescription glasses, which are typically priced at $300 or more, for $95. Since its launch, it has grown to 100 employees.

Talk to shoppers.

To come up with an idea that meets people’s needs, there’s no better way than by talking to shoppers. If you are interested in mountain bikes, hang out in the aisles of sports and bike shops and ask customers what they wish they could find in the marketplace.

If you’re interested in developing an e-commerce business, consider sending an online survey to potential customers to learn about their needs and interests.

Play the mix and match game.

Walk up and down the aisles of a drug, hardware or toy store combining two products across the aisle from each other into one, Key says. That should spark quite a few ideas, but be prepared for most of them to be bad. “You will come up with all these horrible ideas, and every once in a while you will find some brilliant idea out there,” he says.

Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in publications including BusinessWeek Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Brown University as well as a masters of fine arts in creative writing from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C.

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Types of Businesses to Start

10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time

Find your perfect match for a successful part-time start-up.

Nadine Todd

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Start your part-time business today

Contents

  1. Public Relations
  2. Freelance Photography
  3. Corporate Videos
  4. Small Business Advertising Agency
  5. Writing, Editing and Proofreading Services
  6. Internet Marketing Consultant
  7. Web Design
  8. Tax Accountant
  9. Business Consultant
  10. Business Plan Consultant

Launching a company – even if it’s operated part-time – is all about drawing on your skills, talents and interests to create a viable business. What you know and what you’re good at form a good basis for a part-time business because these companies either become an extension of what you enjoy doing most or they are based on your strengths.

Working part-time while still maintaining a permanent job is time consuming and often exhausting, so choosing what you take pleasure in or are good at can keep you focused and motivated. The right fit is important when it comes to launching a part-time business. Selling a service rather than a product does not require large start-up costs, which means you can grow your business without financing until it becomes self-sustaining.

Are you looking for a business that you can launch in next to no time?

Read: 10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!

Corporate Communications & Promotions

Corporate communications covers a host of areas, mainly because this is the sector that takes care of how companies look to the outside world – something that is very definitely a service, but also that is not often taken care of in-house.

If you can write, edit, have a knack for advertising, can take photographs or create promotional and corporate videos, you can offer your services part-time to companies both large and small that are in need of these services.

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Types of Businesses to Start

10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!

Where do you find a good business idea? Right here. Here you’ll find several innovative business ideas that are ripe for plucking.

GG van Rooyen

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Where do you find a brilliant business idea?

It’s not as hard as it may seem at first. In fact, the idea is arguably not all that important. There’s a reason investors talk about backing the jockey and not the horse: It’s often not about the idea, but the execution.

A great entrepreneur can turn even a mediocre idea into a success; all that’s needed is a USP and great customer service.

That said, some ideas are undoubtedly better than others. And some businesses are easier to get off the ground. In the following pages you’ll find a curated list of business ideas that have reached a point where they’re just waiting to be exploited.

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Types of Businesses to Start

The 10 Best New-Age Business Ideas You Haven’t Heard About Yet

Creating the company of your dreams often begins with learning more about something completely new to you.

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You don’t have to over-utilise iPads and smartphones to transform your business into a modern one. Connecting with newer generations is easy when you take advantage of the cool, in-demand ideas at your fingertips.

Here are 10 new-age business ideas to get you started.

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