Connect with us

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

Published

on

brainstorming

“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.

Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Company Posts

Business Opportunities In Printing And Signage

The event is taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

Published

on

sign-africa-tshirts

In an entrepreneurial environment, people are seeking innovative ways to make extra money. The signage and printing industry offers opportunities for small start-ups or those looking to grow their businesses.

These opportunities will be showcased at the upcoming Sign Africa and FESPA Africa expo, which is co-located with Africa Print for commercial print solutions and Africa LED for professional LED lighting. The event is taking place from 12-14 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

T-Shirt and Bag Printing

Embellishments and glitter help transform a simple shirt into a unique garment, and depending on the specific shirt and techniques used, it could become a high priced item. Shirts and bags can be customised, a key aspect to targeting millennials, who require unique products, want to stand out and want items that are Instagram-worthy. You can target this market with personalised bags and unique T-shirts, which do not require large and expensive equipment to produce.

Mugs and Promotional Gifting

While others may see public holidays as opportunities to relax, entrepreneurs can see them as money-making opportunities. Capitalise on trendy markets and popular holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day by producing themed and personalised gifts. Other profitable options include: shopping bags, decor and invites, promotional, corporate and safety wear, wood, vinyl, paper, plastics, metals, flat substrates like clipboards, binders, notebooks, mouse pads, coasters, business cards, stickers and corrugated signs or posters, smart phones and tablet cases.

Related: Move Your Brand Forward With Eye-Catching Vehicle Wraps

Vehicle Wrapping

Business owners are constantly seeking ways to get their brands noticed. And with all the gigantic billboards, street pole advertisements and other media vying for consumers’ attention, it’s difficult to stand out. Enter vehicle wrapping, which is an effective promotional tool as it’s cost-effective, impactful and long-lasting. Besides cost-effective general wraps for corporate fleets, custom vehicle wrapping offers special effects that create Instagram-worthy wraps that get brands noticed.

Of course, these business opportunities require training and some research. Luckily, industry experts will be available at the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa expo to answer visitors’ questions. There are also free educational features such as a T-Shirt and Bag printing workshop featuring demonstrations by local experts on T-shirts and bags with speciality printing techniques as well as the Textile Experience, which shows how to screen print onto T-shirts.

Opportunities for small start-ups or those looking to grow their businesses will be showcased in daily 30 minute Business Opportunity sessions. For more information about the event, and to register online, please visit: http://bit.ly/EntrepreneurSignAfrica.

sign-africa-fespa

Continue Reading

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

Published

on

Prev1 of 11

businesses-you-can-start-part-time

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.

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.

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
Prev1 of 11

Continue Reading

Types of Businesses to Start

A 7-Step Guide To Starting Your Own Trade Business

With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.

Morné Stoltz

Published

on

trade-business

Skilled tradesmen are always in demand. Whether you are a plumber, electrician, cabinetmaker, refrigeration expert, tiler or builder, there is a ton of work out there. For many, the best way to make the most of the opportunity is to open your own business.

Where do you start? The first step is to register your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Look for a catchy name that is easy to spell and memorable – you do not want customers to struggle. The CIPC will tell you which names are taken. It is also a good idea to do a trademark search before deciding on a name. Register with SARS and make sure that all your tax affairs are in order.

It is a very good idea to get a good accountant right at the early stages of the game. They can also help you set up the legislative requirements for running a business. The National Small Business Chamber is a non-profit organisation that offers a range of services to its members that aim to help them grow faster, save money and receive the support they need.

With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.

1. Finding customers

You want to find customers in order to grow your business beyond the ones you already have. These days, that means a website and some smart online marketing.

This can be as simple as setting up a Facebook page and any one of several other social media sites (like Instagram and LinkedIn). These services are at no-cost to you and allow you to quickly build up a following of loyal customers. You can share ‘jobs well done’, so prospective customers can see what you are capable of, while your contact details are easily accessible. In due course, consider some paid averts on relevant social media platforms and perhaps a website of your own. It is a good way to get potential customers on board.

At the same time, list your services in community newspapers, noticeboards and newsletters so everyone in the area can easily see that you are available and what it is you do. Also, keep your eye on social media community groups – and ask family, friends and existing clients to refer and/or recommend your services when an opportunity arises.

Finally, there are many government initiatives and non-profit organisations whose aim is to help small businesses succeed – with a particular emphasis on black-owned businesses. This help could range from facilitating access to finance, all the way to mentorship. Spend some time finding out what help is on offer. The SME Movement site also has this kind of information.

Related: How To Start Your Own Artisan Business

2. Stay focused

For those just starting out, there might be a temptation to take any job that crosses your path. Rather stick to your area of expertise to build a reputation based on proven skills. If you are an electrician with a little plumbing experience, for example, tackling a piping job could cause more trouble than it is worth. Every trade is different and you are an expert for a reason.

Leave the other work for experts in those fields – but build up relationships with them so that you can refer work to each other.

3. Ride on your qualifications and references

You have spent a lot of time getting certified. Let your customers know about your qualifications and experience by putting it on your Facebook page, your invoices, e-mails and other communications. The same goes for references; these are valuable and provide evidence of your ability to get the job done. Ask for a reference when the job is complete and then on to social media it goes. The good news with social media, by the way, is that these references do not ever go away.

4. Stay on top of the paperwork

The good old days of doing business on a handshake may be behind us. Providing quotes, contracts, invoices and records of payments electronically makes paperwork a whole lot easier by creating a digital archive where physical copies aren’t needed, but it serves the same purpose, when it is formally recorded, it is far easier to see what has been agreed to, done and paid for. Do not skimp here, even the best customer service provider relationships can go awry if verbal agreements are all you have to go on.

5. Register with your trade association (and invest in CPD)

Being a member of a trade association (like Master Builders, the Institute of Plumbing or other professional bodies) lends credibility to what you are doing. It also provides access to new customers should larger contractors need to sub-contract. Your trade association also formalises training and continuous professional development (CPD).

Related: 6 Tips For Launching Your Global Brand

6. Get business insurance

All too often, this crucial coverage is ignored by those starting out on their own. You want to protect tools and equipment on the one hand and you also want broadform public liability to safeguard yourself, your employees and your business against third party claims should something go wrong on the job. It provides cover in connection with your normal business activities and also your liability if any employees are injured in the course of work.

Putting the right insurance in place can mean the difference between staying in business for the long term or folding the minute the tools grow legs and disappear.

7. Deliver good service

Do not forget that every job is a potential reference and, at the very least, is your entry into that client’s network of friends or business associates. Concentrate on giving good service and actively request feedback so you can remedy any shortfalls. A take-it-or-leave it attitude may be relaxing, but it will prevent your business from growing to what it potentially can be.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending