How do you find your best ideas for a start-up?

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A woman in a bikini at a Beauty pageant 7 Marc...
A woman in a bikini at a Beauty pageant . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A student completing her law degree and her fellow student studying Spanish and finance have started a venture to sell dance shoes.

There is a new trend among the generation of millennials who say they don’t want to limit themselves and aren’t afraid to take risks as they start their own businesses different from their formal studies, according to a recent report.

Many have watched their parents lose their jobs during economic downturns and don’t dream of climbing the one-track corporate path. They have discovered the reality that job security is a lie, said a coach who helps students to start up their own businesses. “Millennials are really looking for meaning and purpose,” she said.

How did these two graduates find their idea for dancing shoes?

At the local salsa dancing club the simple flats they were wearing made them feel like a “a make-free girl at a beauty pageant” and the other graduates’ shoes had heels that “felt like daggers”. So they began to explore how they could come up with shoes that would be more suitable for dancing.

Hands-on experience is one useful way to come up with new business ideas. It’s through trying out products yourself or even services that you will find flaws in them that may lead you to becoming passionate about coming up with an alternative. If you’re searching for new business ideas, it pays to be aware of your experiences: when you eat foods, do hobbies, participate in sports, work, travel or even go on holiday. But it can’t just be anything because you need to be passionate about what you are doing.

The search for new business ideas could include experience as mentioned but also observation and listening. You might see someone working on a product or service and they are struggling with it which might lead to a new business idea. Same thing for listening. One entrepreneur who built a large cosmetics business got her idea from a clerk at a cosmetics counter. She asked for a certain type of lipstick that wasn’t available and the clerk told her that she would be rich if everyone who asked her for that type of lipstick gave her a dollar.

These idea-generation methods are valuable because they are steeped in actual human experience. The skill here is to determine whether the idea that you come up with is viable. To do that you need a process for evaluating, testing and developing your idea.

You can use other idea generation methods that are more deliberate and organised such as personal brainstorming, mind mapping, freewriting and the 20-Idea Method. Yet although these are valuable for generating ideas you just need to be careful that what you come up with is “bounded” by reality. You can also approach idea generation through exploring many facets of a problem or area of interest and use random techniques to trigger combinations that bring about something new and different.

If you want to discover more about a system for producing new business ideas and turning them into viable products and services, then get my book “Breakthrough Ideas”. As personal development pioneer Earl Nightingale said, “a single thought can revolutionise your life…”.

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