What will lead you to a promising business idea? Exotic, Ninja idea generation techniques or the powers of your own observation?

Graphite pencil drawings strengthen my observation and give me new insights.
Graphite pencil drawings strengthen my observation and give me new insights.

A few weeks ago I came across a woman who had been in accounting but longed to start something of her own. At university she had plans for starting her own business but scrapped them for a “real job”. Some years later she attended a panel on the global water crisis which got her mind thinking. A couple of months later she was hiking with her mother when she thought about the metal bottle she was carrying for water. The water was warm. Then she had an idea to start a metal bottle of her own. In short, to date she has sold 4 million of her double-insulated metal bottles in attractive colours to high-end retail and outdoor stores with the price of each unit ranging from $25 to $45.

Some people think that you need all sorts of exotic idea generation techniques to come up with promising business ideas. They will go for techniques such as Rattlesnakes and Roses, Lotus Blossom, Cherry Split, Idea Streaming Windtunnel and the Gravel Gulch. Yes, these techniques have been well researched and documented but are they the Holy Grail to finding a promising business idea? Do you really need to learn a bunch of techniques to look for a simple business idea that will provide a source of income generation?

The point is that the woman who came up with the new metal, double-insulated water bottle in attractive colours most likely didn’t use these esoteric or exotic techniques. She used her own powers of observation to find an idea that could work for her and that she could commercialise. It was through her own experience, albeit something different such as listening to a panel on the global water crisis, and taking a hike outdoors that led her to her winning idea.

The thing is idea generation techniques can help but you can use your own observation, listening and experiences to come up with promising new business ideas. Either you do things differently such as going to a place where you’ve never been before, taking up a hobby or interest or you simply see things differently. It’s through a change of perspective that you become opportunity conscious and start to see problems, challenges, obstacles, complaints and frustrations as sources of opportunity. By flipping each one around rather than seeing the negative you turn it into a positive and come up with a solution that perhaps others have overlooked.

How do you look for ideas like this?

You may want to spend years looking for an idea or you could speed up the process. “Breakthrough Ideas” does cover some of the practical idea generation methods but it goes into many ways to show you how to think differently and become more opportunity conscious. It’s as close to real magic in finding your promising business idea as you will ever find.

Observation gets the ideas flowing

(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

One of the best ways to find out if entrepreneurial ideas are working is to go out and look for yourself at real businesses in main street, morning markets or shopping centres. Rather than swallow hook, line and sinker the stories you read in small business magazines and newspapers, it’s good to get out there yourself and find out what’s working and what isn’t. It’s not only about the business idea itself but also about merchandising, store location and customer service.
Continue reading “Observation gets the ideas flowing”

One secret to how innovators come up with brilliant ideas

Sound Ideas
Sound Ideas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A study of innovators – people who come up with brilliant, game-changing ideas – found that the skills of associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering makes the difference. Although it’s implied in questioning and perhaps observing, I would add listening as a key skill.

Innovators put together ideas and information in unique combinations. They connect or link information and observation in new ways.

They act differently which means that they observe actively, make contact with people they wouldn’t normally talk to and improve their questioning skills. Continue reading “One secret to how innovators come up with brilliant ideas”

Where do you find ideas for nothing?

Ideas can make millions. Where do you find your million dollar idea?

Well, the first place you could look for ideas is your hobbies and interests. What have you done, are doing that could be turned into a profit machine?

Many entrepreneurs have got their new business ideas from their hobbies. Small businesses have been started from hobbies in baking, gardening, cycling, collecting share certificates – you name it – people have taken their hobbies, found a market for what they have to offer and slowly built successful businesses.

Ideas can come from problems and customer complaints. A young woman in Australia once heard a shop counter salesperson say, “If I had a dollar for every time someone asked for matte lipstick, I’d be rich.” Well, Poppy King listened and built a lipstick business. Listening can unearth a goldmine. Continue reading “Where do you find ideas for nothing?”

How to get ideas on the run?

Simple idea but the innovation is in the execution
Simple idea but the innovation is in the execution.

Ideas can bring about new products and services, lead to forming a business and solve our pressing problems and challenges.

But where do you find ideas?

How do you come up with ideas, especially if you’re in a hurry and need them like now?

Really, there are mainly three ways:

• You can wait until an idea comes but you could wait until it’s too late.
• You can observe what is going on around you and hope that an idea will suddenly come from nowhere.
• You can approach idea-generation in a structured way using proven techniques that will increase your chances of coming up with a great idea.

Continue reading “How to get ideas on the run?”

How to get ideas

Human ear icon

Ideas can just pop out of the blue.

Or come to us when we are busy.

Reading, watching a movie or overhearing someone complain.

Let’s briefly go through the abilities all of us have to find ideas – observation, listening and questioning.

Observing for ideas

Observation is something we do all the time. We watch people; we observe what they do, observe how they are dressed and see what they buy.

From our observations we connect ideas with those we see to form new and better products and services.

We may, for example, come across a flower delivery service. Then observe at another time home-made chocolate being made, connect these two ideas and fuse them into something like a delivery service for chocolate gifts on special occasions. Continue reading “How to get ideas”

Rather don’t try this to perk up slow sales

A “perfect” family moves into an upper middle-class neighborhood, invites their neighbours over and proudly shows them the products they’ve bought from high-tech toys and designer clothes to luxury cars.

Perfect couple Steve and Kate Jones, and their gorgeous teen-aged children Jenn and Mick, are all in it together – they’ve signed up as professional product promoters.

Unsuspecting, envious, neigbours buy high-tech golf clubs, high-priced jewels and gourmet food to keep up with the “The Joneses”.

Soon some of their buying behaviour starts to have tragic consequences.

“The Joneses” is a movie that shows the fictive world of stealth marketing gone crazy.

Stealth or undercover marketing involves inducing consumers to buy without realizing they are being marketed to.

Small businesses wouldn’t stoop at using such dubious techniques but with their biggest problem being weak consumer spending they need to find out more about their customers – why they are not buying and, when they do, what kinds of purchases are they making.

Formal market “research” – focus groups, interviews, questionnaires — costs a lot of money. You don’t want to do that if you’ve got a small business.

To get a better handle on what your market wants and needs generate ideas on how to find out your customers’ problems, how they use your products and what keeps them from buying more from your business.

You’ll get a better understanding of the realities your customers face when you get out and listen to them. You may find opportunities to better serve them, which could mean more business for you.

By taking time out to talk to your customers and observe them, you may find that they need associated products and services that you may not have thought about.

Knowing your market, what your customers want and their changing needs, is what all small business people need to know.

Especially when sales are down and could slow some more.

But how often do we assume we know what’s best for our customers, try outguess them and arrogantly decide what they should buy?

To keep in touch with what customers need, want and desire you have to get into their world and understand their problems.

Stay inspired.


Chesney Bradshaw