Business Ideas and How to Manufacture Them

You can not underestimate the importance of a solid business idea when you are starting out in the world of enterprise. The core business concept is the building blocks upon which all else stands, and as such must be solid and carefully constructed. Sometimes incredible ideas just arrive, seemingly by accident; what many people don’t realize is that effective ideas can actually be manufactured by anybody who knows how.

One way to find an excellent business idea is simply to adapt one that is already out there. There are countless products out there that are selling relatively well and yet can still be improved upon in a number ways. Taking this approach to the idea creation process has an inherent advantage in the fact that you already know there is a demand for this sort of product… it takes a large proportion of the guess work out of starting your business.

By overcoming the weaknesses of an existing product (for example, by making it faster or smaller) you are not only coming up with a viable idea for your enterprise, but you are also guaranteeing it a competitive advantage. This is how people create business ideas that are not only coherent but also incredibly profitable.

A different, but equally effective approach to developing your ideas, is to start by researching problems faced by the everyday consumer. If you take a problem-oriented approach to crafting your business idea, you not only increase your scope of creativity but you also improve the chances that your idea will actually be saleable. This is because when customer buy a product or service from you, what they are really buying is the perceived benefit of having that product or service. For example, when someone buys a haircut they are buying the feeling of being attractive; when someone buys an office computer, they are buying increased productivity.

If you begin the process by brainstorming problems, an interesting thing occurs – by solving any of these problems you will be providing a massive benefit. The problem with land telephones is that have to remain stationary… when this problem was solved with the invention of the cellular phone, a benefit was created simultaneously. Everyone knew that the cell phone would sell because the benefit of NOT having to remain stationary was so apparent. If you start with by finding a problem you think you can solve, your business idea could emulate the success of the cellular phone.

Another approach to generating business ideas is to start by listing your areas of interest. You hobbies are a great source of inspiration – if you take the problem-first approach discussed earlier, then you can identify situations that would make your area of interest more fun or easier. For example, if you are a keen swimmer, you may find chlorine in your eyes to be annoying… an excellent idea to pursue would be the development of contact lens that protect the eyes from chlorine.

If you develop ideas that are closely linked to your personal interests, you are automatically meeting two of the requirements of a successful business concept. For starters, it is something that you are probably quite knowledgeable about. This means that you can make intuitive decisions with far less chance of being mistaken. Secondly, it will probably be something that you are passionate about. The passion of the entrepreneur is the number one factor that separates successful enterprises from failures.

The inspiration behind your business is the foundations upon which it is built and the fuel that will propel it to the forefront of your industry. Put on your creativity hat and generate some wealth-building business ideas today!

15 Ways To Find The Next Winning Business Idea

In the last post I talked about what makes a great, profitable idea: for you. Now let’s talk about how to actually find that idea. I’ll also follow this up with how to get inspiration for your ideas. Even if you don’t have a creative bone in your body, that’s fine-read on.

1. Take an existing business model and introduce it in a new location or industry. Instead of coming up with a brand new idea, why not take something that already works and implement it somewhere else? One American entrepreneur I talked to recently introduced the “agency” method of finding and managing professional baseball players to Japan. Before him, a large barrier separated talented players and professional ball clubs. Without inventing anything new, he took a successful business model and implemented it in Japan.

2. Take an existing idea to a related market. Likewise, you can take something that works in one market and introduce it to another.

3. Make an improvement to an existing product. You’re a consumer and have the opportunity to try all sorts of new products. See if you can make them better for yourself or others. Often a good resource for this is looking at customer reviews on such sites as Amazon.com. A useful tip: often times, simply making a better product is not the answer-try to see if you can make a cheaper product with less features to satisfy demand from a customer base that isn’t willing to spend as much and doesn’t need a top quality product (big companies often overlook this area). Read The Innovator’s Dilemma for more detail on this topic.

4. Create a brand new solution to a pain point in an industry. People love to complain. Go to forum boards in your business area of interest, read blog comments, and peruse Amazon.com product reviews. Listen to what people hate and develop a solution to their problems.

5. Pay attention to new trends. Don’t try to create something really cool that no one cares about. Go to where the buzz is and you’ll likely land more customers and investors. “Green technology,” “social networking,” “cloud computing…”- these are the areas that are growing the fastest and the companies within these industries need new solutions to their problems as they grow- just pay attention.

6. Figure out what the government is throwing money at. Governments (at least in the U.S. and Europe) are notorious for throwing away money at concepts they deem important but have no clue about (“climate change mitigation, anyone?”). All it takes is reading the newspaper to find out what kind of hot issues are prevailing so that you can find your niche.

7. Take something existing and put your own spin on it. What does Southwest Airlines do that U.S. Airways can’t? Nothing. If it weren’t for slight differences in service, airlines would be as similar and commoditized as coal. But Southwest chose to brand themselves as an airline that cared about customers, could make their lives less stressful by targeting less congested airports, and allowed them to choose their own seats. If they didn’t do this, they would be competing on price alone, and as a small entrant, they would get smashed by the big airlines.

8. Find out how to do something cheaper. If you can convince a CEO that her company’s spending $X thousand per month on a certain service but you can do the same thing for 50% of that with the same level of quality or better, you’ve got a business.

9. Talk to professors and read academic research on hot topics. Academics are infamous for coming up with brilliant ideas without recognizing or having the time to implement them into practical solutions. Visit some labs and interview some experts on an area of interest to you. Universities are often more than happy to supply you with the people you need to make the business happen (lawyers, VCs, experts).

10. Hobbies and passions. Need I say more? If you enjoy something enough, you probably know exactly what fellow hobbyists want.

11. Buy a business in an area of your expertise/passions. If you want to be in business but can’t come up with an idea, why not acquire an existing business in your area of expertise? You would presumably invest in something that is already proven and generating a cash flow. This offers a few benefits: it teaches you quickly how to operate one (although I would recommend having an industry mentor along the way) and it’s easier to finance because lending banks feel secure that it’s already proven.

12. Find untapped distribution networks. Distribution networks are ways for a company to get its products to its customers. A restaurant, for example, is a way for a wine company to distribute its bottles to paying customers. If you find distribution networks that may be good avenues for a product, however the product isn’t there, you may have found an opportunity to distribute a similar product, especially if demand is high.

13. Identify lazy incumbents. Incumbents are large companies that have sustaining, rather than accelerated growth in a market. Although they seem to set up insurmountable barriers to entry, their large size makes them inflexible and often lazy. They may forgo many new technologies, ignore customers, sacrifice quality, or be slow to capture social and fashion trends. If you can catch on faster and satisfy your customers’ hunger, you win.

14. Identify an existing idea/business that could use better branding, content, or service. It’s a sad thing that many great ideas die because people don’t like them or simply don’t get the opportunity to see them. If your talent is in branding products and making them more attractive, undervalued opportunities abound.

15. Add value to a process. A furniture manufacturer could use the help of a sawmill to take the chopped wood from lumberjacks and turn it into chairs and tables. Sure it could grow and cut its own trees and save money, but they may be better off paying a slight premium for the wood from the sawmill so that it can focus on what it does best-making furniture. Think about ways that you can add value in an industry’s value chain.

Inspiration for your idea

So these are some initial types of ideas, but you may want to brainstorm and drill down to what’s right for you. For that you’re going to need to be in the right state-one that gets you inspired and feeling creative. When are you at your most creative state? I want you to think about what type of setting you need to be in to have positive thought. Is it having water run down your back in a shower? Or are you like me and need the rumbling white-noise in a transatlantic flight to free your mind? Here are some more things/environments that may motivate you and allow the free flow of ideas: reading business books or autobiographies of successful entrepreneurs, brainstorming with other MBAs or entrepreneurs, attending conferences/seminars, taking baths, skiing, driving, free writing, drawing…and the list goes on. Good luck and get inspired!

Social Network Integration – A Great Tool for Businesses

Social media has become a very important part of everyone’s life in today’s world. Now, it’s the time for businesses to turn towards them for their advertisement and increase their profits, thereby expand their business. Social Network Integration provides just that to the businesses and companies. It’s a way through which they can reach to a wider audience and that too in much less time as compared with other advertisement strategy.

All one has to do in Social Network Integration is integrate their site with available social media sites and that’s it and therefore expand their reach. In general one can separate the whole procedure in ten stages through which a business goes through while they move toward full social media integration:

• Observe everything and report – This can be considered as the entry mark where the businesses know about the marketplace. It consists basically of two things – listening and reporting. Listening devices like the Google Alerts are used to keep a track of conversation and the instances that are in association with the keywords. Reporting provides the decision makers with the much needed information of impact of the social media on business.

• Setting of stage and dress rehearsal – In this stage the businesses create their account on the various social media sites and start publishing their content.

• Socializing Media – The companies in this stage start paying attention to the audience so that they could improve their content in response and provide human communication.

• Search of voice and finding the sense behind purpose – Now after hearing and seeing the response of the audience business gain inspiration or ideas so as to put a sense behind the purpose into their social media programs.

• Converting words into real action – Now after all discussions and gaining of ideas businesses in this stage start bringing out their ideas into practice.

• Making the brand human and defining the real experience – Now after the brand has created its name, its message and talks start spreading from consumer something which in short can be termed as mouth to mouth advertisement.

• Community – Community is not only made by making a profile on social network. Through the earlier stages businesses gain them through their hard work. Businesses make a path that is required to take their customers towards a great network that is filled with information and important connections.

• Social Darwinism – Now after the above stages the introduction of whole new roles will change the structure of team and therefore workflow. Hence an organizational transformation would take place that will be required for supporting effective engagement and to maintain the relevance of the brand.

• Socialization of the business process – Many disciplines and also the departments of business would now socialize and therefore the adaptation of the infrastructure would be required to manage the social workflow.

• Performance metrics of business – For measurement of the real effect of the social media on business number and data is required every time. That is what now happens at this stage.

Social Network Integration is definitely a great tool for the business to make their business more relevant and reach out to a greater audience and create a name for them