Idea generation is the first step of the process of entrepreneurship. The ability to notice and identify business ideas is a valuable asset to have and it could also be learned. There are three main perspectives to look at it and many tools to use.
1. You have a problem and now you need to find a solution
Most common way to generate a business idea is to have an existing problem – something you personally experience as a problem, something you do not like or disagree with, something that you think can be done better. Once you identify the problem you start looking for a solution, which can either come form, your personality and knowledge or you could find it in the outside environment. If you personally have a problem, it is almost certain that there are more people that experience the same problem and might be ready to pay for your solution.
2. You have a product (knowledge) and you are looking for customers/ market
Once you already have product or knowledge, you can start thinking about who might be interested in it and who is ready to pay for it. It is good to think about specific group of people. That will help you to sell easier and to adjust the product better to the needs of those people. The more specific you are the better. Do not be afraid to ask questions and just try and test.
3. You do not have a problem or a product but you can see somebody with a problem and somebody else with a solution and you find a way to help them work together
People who are used to work in business environment often identify problems but they also identify possible solvers and they form a way to create that market. It could be a company that hires the solvers and sells to the people that need that, or it could be marketplace – physical or online, where people can sell to each other.
Tools to use when generating ideas:
brainstorming – brain storming is maybe the simplest and easiest thing to do. It helps you put on paper all of the ideas you might have and help you generate even more. It is a safe time for a team to share ideas and often ideas are generated from other ideas already on the paper
- asking questions – be curious, learn as much as you can for the market/problem, ask questions, be bold and brave.
- using your own experience – learn from what you have already done. There is not a better way to learn. Often times we generate new ideas using our own experience and we have already done and only change something in the idea
- get as much feedback as you can – share your idea as much as you can. Talking to people can bring you valuable feedback. Do not be afraid to share your idea- there is no such thing as stealing ideas, nobody can execute the same way as you. At the same time collect feedback and decide wisely on which one you should act on. Do not give up or get disappointed, if one person tells you something negative. It is a good time to improve and just ask more people.
- use existing product but for a new market – geographical or different industry – it is common to use existing models but for something else. Good example is when people started using the production line – first invented in automobile production plant, then it was brought to other industries in production and after that even in services like in self service restaurants. Think of ideas you like, that inspire you and think how and if you can bring them to the industry you work in or your country/city/village.
- learn more about the “blue ocean” strategy – modify some existing idea, add new value to it and basically create a new market niche, learn more about it here.
This blog post is an excerpt from the Bees Inspired – A Hive for Female Entrepreneurs Booklet that was created by the participants of Bees Inspired: A Hive for Female Entrepreneurs during a 10-day youth exchange that took place in The Netherlands from 18 till 27 January 2017. It gathered 42 participants from 7 different countries and empowered them to learn from each other about female entrepreneurship. The project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.