Coming up with a viable business idea isn’t JUST about finding an idea that has legit potential to generate revenue.
It’s going to take a combination of a few things in order to find a viable business idea you’ll actually fall in love with.
I do believe you can fall more in love with a business as it grows, but I also believe you have to have some type of passion or desire to start that business in the first place in order to continue getting back up when things are tough.
How to come up with a viable business idea
And who doesn’t want to create a business they love?
Here’s the winning equation for a Viable Business Idea
An interest + Your experience + A need
= Viable business idea
Now that we’ve got the equation to help us come up with a viable business idea, let’s take a look at how we can put it together in 3 steps.
3 Steps to your Viable Business Idea
Step 1: Create an interest list
First, let’s figure out what you’re actually interested in, because if you’re not interested in a topic, subject, industry, niche, or style, then chances are you’re not going to fall in love with a business idea based on that.
So grab those handy little sticky notes and clean off your whiteboard!
Color code it, categorize it, organize it – whatever helps you in creating an interest list, let’s put it to work. This might even just be opening up your Workflowy or Evernote and starting to type out your interests.
Give yourself a couple of days. Some interests might be blatantly obvious to you, while others might only come to you after giving yourself some time to think about it.
Our goal is get your list to 25 interests
One thing I had on my interest list?
Among a whole lot of other things I’m interested in, writing was one that I came up with.
I also included other things on my interest list like:
- Spending time with family
- Meeting new people
- Project planning
…just to name a few ;)
Okay, so you’re actively creating your interest list… now what?
Step 2: Gather your experience
Next, it’s going to be helpful to take inventory of what you have experience doing.
Whether it’s something you learned at a previous job, what you studied in school, or just something you learned growing up, bust out those sticky notes again (or open up your Workflowy) and start jotting down the things you have experience doing.
Our goal is to get your list to 25 things you have experience doing
One thing I had on my experience list?
Since I used to work at an Advertising & Marketing agency, Marketing was one thing I had on my experience list.
I also included other things on my experience list like:
- Project planning
- Communication skills
- Attention to detail
…just to name a few ;)
So now you have 2 lists: one of them with your interests and the other with those things you have experience doing.
With those 2 lists side-by-side, start to pick out where there is overlap: which of your interests in some way, shape or form aligns with your experience?
Your list might looking something like this:
This overlap will represent your potential business ideas
Now that you have a handful of potential business ideas, and you’ve identified those things you’re both interested in AND have experience doing, it’s time to find out whether or not they can become viable ideas.
Step 3: A need in the market place
At this point, you should have a few ideas that are based on where your interests and your experiences align.
For me, I chose to combine my interest in writing and my experience in marketing: this exact exercise is what I used to come up with the idea to start my first entrepreneurial venture: Kate’s Copy.
I also noticed that given the alignment of some of my interests and my experiences that project planning and communication would be strong points to leverage.
John also used this exercise to come up with his idea to start EOFire.
One of his interests was listening to podcast interviews with those whom he viewed as inspiring and successful entrepreneurs. His experience? His experiences included great communication skills, along with dedication and drive to accomplish anything he set his mind to.
A lot of brainstorming and a light-bulb moment later, the idea to launch a 7-day a week interview-based podcast was born.
John took an interest of his, married that with things he had experience doing, and identified a need when he realized he had run out of podcasts to listen to (no one has a 7-day a week interview-based podcast on entrepreneurship?! – BINGO!)
So now that you have an idea or two, it’s time to go through that process of finding out whether or not one or more of your ideas can help solve a problem that a specific group of people has.
How will you know?
This part can get a little tricky. In order to figure out whether your idea can help solve a problem that a specific group of people has, you need to do a bit of market research.
This could be by way of doing research on Google Keyword Terms (to see how frequently others are searching for the idea you want to create to “prove” whether or not there is interest that exists for this idea); or by doing just a regular search in Google to see how many others have already created an offering around your idea, (which in many ways will give you “proof of concept” if others are doing it successfully).
But the route I want to take you on involves actually knowing who is in that specific group of people you’re looking to target – this is how John came up with proof that there was a need out there for a 7-day a week interview-based podcast on entrepreneurship.
This leads us to our next step on The Fire Path: Finding your perfect customer.