How to turn on your discovery channel

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English: The carbon footprint as it is underst...
English: The carbon footprint as it is understood by people. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After working in transport and distribution John Bremner took a voluntary redundancy package and started learning computers to retrain for a new career. He came up with an idea to start “The Green Engineer” which offers maintenance, modernisation, installation and repair services for the domestic market in electrical, plumbing, heating and renewable energy.

John plans to build a business by working with renewables from rainwater harvesting to domestic heat recovery systems and would like to create a positive impact in reducing our collective carbon footprint.

Where did John come up with the idea for his business in assisting homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient and save money? John, after taking his voluntary redundancy, invested the money into retraining for a new career and gained qualifications in advance computing through homestudy. While he was doing his training he did a lot of research online and at a local library where he came up with the idea for the new business.

It’s interesting that John came up with these “aha” moment when he deliberately went out to search for new business ideas that would suit his temperament, experience and skills set. John went online and used libraries but there are a number of sources that you can look for new business ideas if you want to start something of your own. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

The search for new business ideas begins with knowing your own personal key drivers – what motivates you and makes you tick. It also starts with an inventory of your skills, experience and knowledge in specific areas where you have worked before. In doing such an exercise you would be looking for your transferable skills. These are the skills and experience that you can transfer to other areas successfully.

Another area to consider is your personal resources. An Australian entrepreneur who launched a successful software product says that it’s important to have money in the bank early because this will help you make better decisions. The sooner that you can get going on saving into a cash kitty or cash pot that you can use to finance your start-up, the better. You also need to look at resources such as your personal networks and contacts, the premises that you may already own and skilled people whom you may be able to outsource or hire part-time.

Without a viable business idea, you won’t be able to start a business. This may sound basic but people can sit around for very long scratching their heads but no new ideas are forthcoming. The solution to this problem is to get active than do research. It may, like John, involve doing online research, visiting libraries, digging into business directories and even the Yellow Pages.

You may also want to visit shopping centres, morning markets, farm markets and community markets to see what others are selling and whether there is a gap in the market for you. Some entrepreneurs also visit trade exhibitions in their area or domain of interest and see what is available on the market.

A simple but effective way to come up with new ideas is to listen to people. When you hear them complaining about products or services that don’t work, make a mental note of it to explore later. Share their pain. By understanding other people’s pain, you may find a gap in the market that you can fufill. Do you have a solution that may work better than what is presently available?

It also pays to observe people using products and services and find out what their hassles are. By watching them carefully, you will see where other entrepreneurs have overlooked areas where you may be able to come up with a better, faster or cheaper ways to solve the same problem.

If you want to find out how to start something of your own, tap into your discovery channel at Idea Accelerator. When you are looking for ways to come up with new ideas, test them, build prototypes and deal with business planning and operations more effectively, Idea Accelerator has a data base of more than 550 articles to help you.

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