Put any amount of thought into where ideas come from, and it’s obvious that the sources are everywhere. Sources of business ideas are no different, except that in business, an idea’s credibility and feasibility equals time and money. Even a good idea can become a bad one if not thoroughly thought through and planned out. Individuals looking to start or expand a business have plenty of sources to choose from.
Many leading business experts recommend a few key sources of business ideas, but primarily advise basing ideas on personal interest and experience. It makes sense that success could be more readily found in an idea that stems from a personal area of interest or expertise. However, many business owners have started successful businesses built on ideas that were new and relatively unknown to them because they were willing to perform extensive research.
Research may be the key to developing an idea into a successful business plan, but the idea has to be developed first. There are many sources of business ideas that can be easily uncovered with careful observation and research. Aside from evaluating personal interests and experience, observations should be made about other businesses and intended markets. For instance, a business geared towards kids in an area where many residents are elderly is probably not a good idea. Conversely, a business idea that can reach people anywhere and any time does not to be based on a geographic market.
In the United States, one of the best sources of business ideas and information about starting a business can be located through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is an equally useful resource in the UK. Organizations such as the SBA and FSB exist to promote the development and success of small businesses and provide a wealth of information about taking an idea from concept to a full-fledged business plan.
Books are another good source of business ideas. Many of them present basic ideas, often organized by category, and are intended to spark the entrepreneur’s imagination. When coupled with resources like the Better Business Bureau, local business directories and the Small Business Administration, a list of ideas can begin to take on a more specific shape that develops into a more singular idea. It is likely that several ideas will have to be honed based on existing businesses, current markets, and previous experiences.
Keeping a written list of information and sources of business ideas garnered through research is a good way to keep ideas organized. It will also help in developing an idea into a business plan, which is essential for conceptualizing an idea. While it’s true that no specific education is required to be a successful entrepreneur, a solid business plan in conjunction with a good understanding of basic business principles, such as marketing, economics and finance, is an asset.