Some of the important sources for getting new business ideas are as follows:
You may have decided that you want to do business but you are not sure which business you want to get into. Business ideas are all around us. There are many places to start searching for ideas. Sometimes, it is an on going process where we are generally on the lookout for great new ideas.
Over a period of time, you may end up recording a number of good business ideas that we come across while going about our day- to-day life. You can then evaluate these ideas and when the time is ripe, these ideas can be taken further. Let us look at some good sources for ideas.
If you have been working somewhere for the past few years, you have obviously been doing something right to still be on the payroll. During this time, you have gained experience in your field and been professionally exposed to various other fields. You have developed contacts both within your company and also elsewhere in the industry. You have picked up skills and may also have received training in a specialized subject.
Now, figure out what have you learned in all those years and how does that help you to choose a good business to start. Analyse what did you do within the company and will you be get paid to apply the same skills and know-how independently outside the company? Also, find out what needs and lacunae were you exposed to, which you may be able to profitably address now.
Can you think of your former employer as a potential client? I know of many software professionals who split from their employers and their first job was work outsourced to them from their former companies.
When you start a business in some way connected to the work you used to do, you start off with a lot of advantages. You bring with you your experience, technical knowledge, contacts, etc. That is a huge plus in the uncertain world of business.
I envy professional athletes because they make a living out of what they love doing. John McEnroe made millions playing tennis and many more millions commentating on it and most of us have to pay to play tennis. Life can be very unfair.
Taking a good look at what you enjoy doing during your leisure time is a good way to look for business ideas. Hobbies are a means to avoid boredom and dissatisfaction at work. Explore both formal hobbies such as stamp collection, badminton, and classical music and also informal leisure activities such as walking, yoga, and cooking.
For example, if you are interested in cricket, you can start a sports goods shop specializing in cricket, manufacture protective gear, or start a local cricket magazine, or even a cricket training camp. The possibilities are endless.
Be sure to allow your business to exploit your strengths and abilities and to steer clear of your weaknesses. List your strengths and weaknesses. Ask your friends and relatives to help you with the list.
There is an interesting exercise to list your strengths, which is given below:
1. List your top ten accomplishments.
2. List the skills and personal attributes you applied to achieve them.
3. The more commonly occurring ones are your major strengths.
You may surprisingly find out that you are good at compiling information or negotiating or working with animals.
Look at what you enjoy and what you are good at, and try combining them in the business you are going to start. If you love painting but are not good at it, do not become a painter but if you have great communication skill, you can think about starting a business selling works of new artists to hotels and offices.
Consulting friends and family members can be a great idea to look for ideas. Those close to you might have also thought of starting a business. You can take advantage of their work experience and interests to generate ideas and they would also be useful in the analysis of these ideas.
An interesting way to know their thoughts is to get them together in a focus group. A focus group is a group of people sitting together to discuss a specific topic. You can invite some other people with domain knowledge to join you in this. For example, if you want to discuss business opportunities in the automobile sector, invite someone you know who works for Maruti.
The retailers and the distributors are the people closest to the consumer. No one knows more than them, what the consumer wants and what is he/she getting right now. Most distributors deal with a wide variety of products so their experience may be across industries.
They will be able to tell you which products are doing well in the market and what are the various problems in various industries. The retailer will be in a position to give you a first-hand report on consumer behaviour. Often distribution channel members can have suggestions for completely new products.
Ideas may develop when you travel to different parts of the country or to different countries and see different ways of doing things or products that may work at home. Travel makes you aware of the alternatives.
When you visit a major city, it may be better for you to spend more time at the supermarkets gazing at amazing new products than at the traditional tourist places. A potential entrepreneur travelling to England would like to visit Harrods departmental store instead of visiting Madame Tussauds, where he/she can come across a great variety of processed and semi-processed foods and also see novel ways of dealing with queues and crowds. If you are from a small town, you can come across some new business ideas when travelling to Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
You can pick up a lot from business publications and periodicals. They write on current trends in industry, best practices, legal issues, and general business environment. Business magazines are good sources of knowledge but you can gain from reading general interest magazines too. They keep you in touch with the latest trends and happenings.
It is important to keep abreast of the current trends. Look at the world around you and see where it is headed. What new opportunity does this trend throw up? Double income families may mean greater demand for creches, home security, and ready- to-eat products. Keep your eyes and ears open for new trends and fads.
Across the country, there are many research organizations and even some universities engaged in developing new technology and commercializing them. If you visit regional research labs, you would be surprised at the amount of relevant work going on there.
Even better are some CSIR organizations that are smaller and usually more cooperative. All of them are interacting with the industry and have set procedures for transfer of technology. You can buy technology rather cheap but you have to be careful about what you are buying.
The Internet has today become the most important search tool. Where else will you find so much information literally at your fingertips? Good if you have a PC and an Internet connection at home, or else you may go to the neighbourhood Internet cafe. Use the search engines effectively and visit relevant sites.
Get information in the virtual world and use it in conjunction with what you can gather in the real world. If you want to know about cup -filling machines, find a manufacturer of a cup-filling machine on the Net get his/her contact numbers and address and meet him/her to find out what you want to know. The Net has made life a lot easier.