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10 Steps to Generating Your Big Idea

Whether you're too busy to think, feel your brain is stagnating, or are somewhere in between, generating the big idea can be a daunting challenge. Here are ten ways to kickstart the creative process:

1. Buy a Notebook

Keep it in your pocket, beside your bed, and even take it to the bathroom. Ideas can strike at any time, so write them down as soon as they come to you.

a man writing in his notebook

2. Ask a Friend

Talk to someone who knows you well. Ask them what they would buy from you, what you are good at, and what you should avoid. Friends can offer invaluable insights into your strengths and potential pitfalls.


3. Avoid the Hobby Habit

Many people think their hobby holds the key to a great business idea, but consider if there are enough people who share your passion and have money to spend on it. Your hobby might not always translate into a profitable business.

4. Watch the Weather

Will your idea appeal to customers all year round? Seasonal businesses, like selling Christmas decorations or renting out bikes, might not sustain you throughout the year. Consider running two complementary businesses to balance out the seasons.

a man holding xmas gifts

5. Read Books

While you’re probably already reading business books, expand your horizons. Read biographies of business leaders and stories of how leading businesses started, often in small ways. Record what impresses you in your notebook.

reading a book

6. Open Your Eyes

Observe the businesses around you. What could you do better? You might not want to be a newsagent, but analysing how the one you frequent operates can provide useful insights into what works and what doesn’t.

7. Stroll in the Park

Visit places you rarely go. Observe what people do and identify what's missing. Your business must appeal to people, so think about their needs and how you can meet them.

a man walking over the brooklyn bridge

8. Travel

You don’t need to go far. Visit local trade fairs and see what businesses are there. Pose as a buyer and ask questions. Constantly consider why, how, where, and when businesses operate.

9. Check Your CV

Many people start businesses in fields where they have prior experience. While you shouldn’t take this for granted, it’s a possibility worth considering. Your professional background could be a solid foundation for a new venture.

updating cv

10. Shake the Pig

Emptying your money box onto the bed is the ultimate reality check for a budding entrepreneur. If you’ve recently come into a large sum of money, your choices are wide. For most of us, however, our budget will constrain our start-up plans. Knowing your financial limits helps ground your ideas in reality.

Every business you can think of was started as a result of someone's inspiration. The initial idea will have been prompted by many inspirational factors. Unless you have been in business before, each good idea you generate will prompt a doubt. The battle for supremacy between inspiration and doubt creates the tension that urges exploration. Only the foolhardy start a business without considering the downside as well as the opportunity.

Mark's Story

Newly married with a young baby, Mark had recently moved house and was annoyed that some of their treasured wedding presents had been damaged in transit. "We hired a van and moved ourselves, packing our stuff in boxes we’d saved up from the supermarket. Some stuff got crushed when I had to brake sharply and that really upset my wife."

The next week, while buying shelves for their new home in a DIY store, Mark spotted piles of plastic crates. "I wish we’d had those when we moved," said his wife. That innocent remark got Mark thinking. He teamed up with his friend Jonathan and started a business renting plastic crates to people moving house. They partnered with van hire companies and estate agents to pass on their leaflets, and thus, a new business was born.

Generating your big idea might seem challenging, but by following these steps and staying open to inspiration from everyday experiences, you can find a concept that has the potential to become a successful business.


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