If you want to start a business but don’t have a solid idea yet, this article is for you!
I’m going to share the concrete steps you can take to find a profitable business idea (and actually turn it into a real business) using things you already have right now.
I don’t like MLMs, and I believe that any business you start should be completely independent and run by YOU and you only. The business ideas you’ll come up with here will be completely yours.
If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place.
I’m going to walk you through 3 questions you can ask yourself to find a profitable business idea that will work for you.
Table of Contents
- What Do You Have in Your Hands?
- What Are People Paying For?
- How Can You Get Your Foot in the Door?
First up is…
What Do You Have in Your Hands?
The core of every great business is taking something you already have and using it to help others. So the best place to start is to take inventory—to look at what you have that could be used for a business purpose.
Here’s a list of things that can be used for a business:
- Skills: Are you good at writing, teaching, or meeting new people? You can provide your skills as a paid service to people who can’t do it themselves.
- Expert knowledge: Maybe you’re well-versed in music theory or know a lot about parenting. You can use your expert knowledge to teach, provide consulting, or create products to help others learn what you know.
- Your location: The place you live can be a valuable advantage. Is there something you can get in your location that others can’t? Can you find something at a lower price where you live? Or can you provide information about your town to a publication that needs it?
- Equipment you already own. You might have cameras, exercise equipment, or a well-stocked kitchen. You could rent out your equipment or use it to provide a paid service, like meal prepping or wedding photography.
- Passion and interest. If you’re passionate about kids, animals, or the environment, that can spark a good business idea. How could you use your passion and knowledge to solve problems for other people in that area?
- Connections. If you have lots of friends or you’re gifted at networking, you have something a lot of other people don’t. (Looking at you, extroverts 😉) You could create an agency of writers, editors, and graphic designers to serve clients. Or you could provide a matching service where you connect people who need each others’ expertise.
- Space. If you have extra space in your home, office, or other property, that could be an asset for a business. You could rent out your extra space or create a physical location for your customers to visit.
- Time. If you have spare time, you can run errands for people or do other time-consuming tasks for money. If you’re a stay-at-home-mom, you could start an at-home daycare in your home with the time you’re already spending with your kids.
This is just a starting point to help you generate some new ideas.
I recommend writing out a big list of all the ideas you think of, and then rating them based on how interesting they sound to you.
But that’s not the end of the exercise.
Next, you’ve got to figure out which business idea people will actually pay for.
What Are People Paying For?
If you’re going to start a business, you want to make sure it’ll actually make you money.
Here are 3 ways to find out which business ideas have the best chance of becoming profitable.
#1 – Look for Problems and Needs
People pay money to solve problems.
While we do spend money just for fun, we spend more money trying to solve problems that we face everyday.
Everything comes down to a problem. If you’re bored, you’ll try to find something to entertain yourself. If you’re hungry, you’ll find something to eat.
So if you want people to get excited about your business, make sure you’re solving a problem for them.
Some examples of problems that you can solve with your business are:
- Having so many things to do for your business, but not enough time (Solved by a Virtual Assistant)
- Wanting to be more eco-friendly, but not sure how to do it (Solved by an Eco-Friendly Product Line or Eco-Friendly Consultant)
- Want to publish more blog posts but don’t have enough time to write (Solved by a Freelance Writer)
And the list goes on and on. But you’ve got to be solving a real problem that people already recognize. It’s got to be pressing enough that people will pay to fix it.
Here’s a mental exercise that can help you: Imagine your ideal customer or client waking up in the middle of the night and saying, “I can’t relax until I figure out how to ____!” That’s the sign of a pressing problem.
Sometimes we create business ideas that sound really good but in reality, no one wants what you’re selling. (Or at least, not enough to want to pay for it.)
If you find it hard to get paying customers, this is usually the culprit
Asking yourself these questions can help:
- Is the problem you solve something your ideal customers even realize they’re facing?
- Is it something they really care about?
- And is it something that’s such a pressing issue they’d be willing to pay to make go away?
#2 – See Which Businesses Are Already Successful
If there are existing businesses doing what you want to do, and they’re successful, then you have good reason to believe you can be successful, too.
If other businesses are making money with that idea, you know there’s a demand for it.
But if you’ve never seen a single business with your idea, you have no evidence that anyone will want what you’re selling.
That doesn’t mean your business will fail. But you will have to work harder to convince people that they need your solution.
You’ll have to work extra hard to build awareness of your product or service, if it’s something brand-new. And if you’re solving a problem people aren’t aware of, you’ll have to teach people that the problem even exists.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this. Just understand that it will take more time, money, and effort, and you’re not guaranteed that people will actually want to pay for it in the end. It’s a risk.
At the same time, every ground-breaking business idea has gone through this process, and some of them (like microfinancing, sustainable business, or the sharing economy) go on to change the entire world. So if that’s what you want to do, go for it!
That said, if you’re looking to make money and work for yourself in the shortest time frame possible, the best way is to choose a business model that’s already succeeding and create a business off of that.
#3 – Pay Attention to People Who Are Already Spending Money
It’s nearly impossible to convince penny-pinchers to spend their money on something they’ve never bought before.
It’s much, much easier to go to someone who already spends money and convince them to spend it somewhere else.
What does this mean for your business idea? Instead of targeting people who don’t spend money (because they won’t want to spend it on your business, either), you’re better off watching people who are already spending money and designing a product or service they’ll want to pay for.
This is why so many businesses fall under the business services category. Businesses make and spend money every day, and they need tons of different services to keep the business running.
So if you can provide a valuable service like writing, proofreading, marketing, virtual assisting, or any of 100 other skills to a business, you’ll find no shortage of clients.
They’re already paying good money, and they need someone to fill the job.
So it pays to focus on people who are already spending, figure out what pressing needs they have that you could fill, and then start a business to fill that need.
Putting it All Together
When you combine your strengths and assets with the needs you find in the market you’re interested in, you have the components of a profitable business idea.
You may end up with more than one idea, but I recommend sticking to just one business idea until it becomes successful.
Spreading yourself too thin, especially if you have other things going on (like raising kids and working a day job) will just lead to burnout.
Once you succeed with one idea, you can branch out and start building those other businesses on your list.
How Can You Get Your Foot in the Door?
Once you’ve got your idea, it’s time to make it happen.
The best way to get started is to take quick and messy action.
That means you don’t have all the details nailed down, but you’re going to start testing your idea and getting feedback so you can shape it into something great.
Here are some easy ways to get started:
- Post on social media. You can write a short post announcing your idea and asking if anyone wants to be a beta tester. When you’re in the first stages of your business, it’s good to lower your prices or offer your first trials for free since you don’t have a proven track record yet.
- Ask a friend. If you have a friend, a colleague, or a contact you think would benefit from your new business, you can simply reach out and make an offer. Make sure you’re giving them good value in return for their help.
- Do a value swap. You can find another new business owner who’s also looking to get feedback or reviews and exchange products or services with them. They become your guinea pig, and you become theirs.
- Make a prototype. If you want to develop products or create a more complicated service, the best way to start is with a prototype—a rough version that is workable but not polished. Then you can invite a few test subjects and get feedback on it. Each time, you improve some more and get more feedback, until it’s ready to launch.
- Sign up for a freelancing site and do some initial jobs. If you’re looking to get some experience as a freelancer, you can leverage a website like Upwork to find initial clients. These sites make it easy to find clients, but they charge a hefty service fee in return. Still, it’s a great way to get a few first clients and reviews.
If you can’t wait to leave your job and start working for yourself, you’re going to need a great business idea to make it work.
Asking yourself these 3 questions will help you to find a profitable business idea and start taking action on it right away.
Now, tell me: What kind of business do you want to start? Let me know in the comments below!