The Best Business Ideas
Some of the best business ideas are totally off-the-wall.
Outsiders may look at them and conclude that they will never be successful, but if you find something for which there is a demand then you cannot lose, especially if nobody else has got there before you.
Other ideas are boring and mundane, but if they fill a need then those ideas are just as likely to be successful as the most innovative companies. The truth is that there are no magic rules in this process. Your best shot at choosing the right idea is to make sure that it is a good fit for your personality and your skills. No matter how brilliant your business idea may be, if you are not qualified to implement it then you little or no chance of making your dreams come true.
Maybe you already have a lot of business ideas but you can’t pick the best one. Or perhaps you want to start brainstorming. There are just two things to remember about business ideas.
You can be different
- Amazon started selling books online when everybody seemed to be perfectly happy to go to a book shop, and keep their credit card details off the internet. Who would have thought it would work? But it did - and how.
- Airbnb invited users to let their homes to complete strangers – people they might never meet. Who would have thought it would work? But it did – and how.
- PXG decided to enter the business of manufacturing golf clubs and take on the likes of Ping and TaylorMade. Not only that, but they decided to enter the market at the top end, selling really expensive golf clubs - golfers can't get enough of their equipment. Who would have thought it would work? But it did – and how.
You are allowed to be mundane
- You might take an existing product or service and produce your own version of it at a lower price, or in a different location, or with some other minor tweak.
- Or you might find a niche that no one else has identified or explored. Throx did sell socks in threes so people don’t need to worry about losing one in the laundry. Who would have ever have believed that would work, let alone make money? But it does.
How to find the best ideas
As you come up with ideas, you will also need to devise a way to select the good ones. It is a vital choice because your next step will be to invest time, energy and possibly money exploring that idea. How do you decide what is best for you, and what is most likely to work for you?
- Find something you are passionate about - Does the idea excite you? If you’re wildly passionate about your business then you will have much more energy and focus. If it does not excite you then it is not going to excite your potential customers, or anybody else.
- Choose an idea that fits with your skills - Do you have years of experience, qualifications, contacts, or a special talent that you can use to your advantage? The more you do, the greater your chances of success and the less you have to pay somebody else.
- Ensure you can make money from it - You will need a plan to convert your idea into a way of making money. Some ideas can be monetised in many different ways.
You have lots of ideas in your mind, but you need to prioritise them. Do a few stand out as something that you really want to do? Identify those and put them at the top of your list. If you’re only just starting to brainstorm small business ideas, focus first on areas where you have a passion and knowledge.
If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, your business will be much more fun to run. You will find it easier to get up early, work late, and battle through any obstacles that are put in your way. And, of course, you will better absorb information that genuinely interests you, and that is likely to help you learn and develop faster.
Choose an idea that fits with your skills
It’s much easier to get a business off the ground if you can do a lot of the early work yourself. Otherwise you’ll have to hire a lot of professionals, and that’s going to get expensive.
Idea for an app? You should be able to develop a minimum viable product on your own. Want to open a hospitality business? You should know a thing or two about the service industry.
You don't have to be a total expert before you start. It’s okay to learn on the job. But when you look at all the steps required to start your business, make sure you can take responsibility for a good chunk of them yourself.
How to make money from your small business idea
Once you’ve chosen your best business ideas, you need to work out how you can turn them into cash. That’s what a business model is for. It’s your plan for making money.
Business models are many and varied. Some types of business make money by selling goods to consumers (retail), others by selling goods to shops (wholesale), and others by leasing goods. Some businesses make money by charging clients an hourly fee for a service, while others charge a flat fee. These are just basic examples of business models. There are all sorts of creative variations.
Business models generally fall into broad categories such as retail, manufacturing, software-as-a-service, professional services, and so on. Many categories have general rules about:
- what customers are charged for
- average mark-ups on products or services
- reasonable operating costs
Mixing business models
Your small business idea might lock you into a particular business model. If you open a shop, you’re going to operate exactly as your retailers do. However, your business might allow you to mix a number of business models.
If you have invented a unique product, you might be able to make it, supply it to retailers, and sell it direct to customers through your own store. Try to investigate the business models that apply to you. We can help you with that.
Remember that you're just choosing between business ideas at this stage. You don't need a full financial plan yet. But ask yourself:
- can I realistically make money from this idea?
- do I need special expertise (such as wholesale experience) to make the business work?
Once you've picked an idea that you want to explore further, you should get a financial advisor to help work out the business model in more detail.
The best business idea is the one that fits you
When deciding on a business idea to pursue, make sure:
- you are excited by it, because you will need to spend a lot of time on it to make it successful
- you can carry it out (while doing a lot of the work yourself)
- you have a plan to finance it
When you are satisfied and you are convinced that you can put your energy and skill into it, and can see a financial return for your efforts, you're ready to move to the next step and it is time to start thinking about how to get your small business off the ground. We can help with that too.
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