Every business in the world is born from the seed known to all humanity as “Someone’s Idea.” From that very first nurtured idea grows your business plan. Within every plan for your business, new ideas must come to light to form the business marketing plan, advertising campaigns, new product development, and even a system for solving problems. Just one simple idea could mean the difference between success or failure. For a business person to generate valuable business ideas, he must be aware of the research methods, planning strategies and techniques that successful entrepreneurs use to stimulate highly valuable and profitable business ideas. Here are some useful business idea generation methods you can use to generate useful ideas quickly.
Keep in mind that all great business ideas start with a stimulated brain. The more knowledge that you gain about your chosen business field the more your brain will be stimulated to create new ideas. Search both online and offline for resources you could tap into to gain this knowledge. Communicating with other business professionals in your field is the best place to start. Seek these people out by attending trade shows, seminars, local business organizations, and your local chamber of commerce. Find online forums, chat rooms, discussion boards, and joint venture groups in your field, and join in on the conversations.
Sources of ideas can include reading, podcasts, art, architecture, personal experiences, travel, conversations, hobbies, borrowing from others, crowd creativity, crowd sourcing, and attempting to solve existing problems in our world. For existing businesses, the best source of ideas is usually your customers. Yet it takes a bit more than just experiencing or reading something to spark your next great idea. Consciously and objectively experiencing new things will definitely influence and feed your creative abilities, and it’s one of the most fruitful ways we can continue to develop our ability to generate great ideas.
Think outside the box in everything that you do. When your time is short for what ever the reason and you can not attend meetings, seminars, online sessions, and you really do not have the time to sit and read, try alternative methods of brain stimulation. While you are exercising, doing yard work, house work, or even driving in your car listen to business radio stations, business audio books, audio seminars, and audio training courses. This will not only serve as a learning tool, but also as a highly productive use of your time management skills. Remember time is money and every dollar saved is a dollar earned.
Before you can develop a successful marketing idea, you must have a plan that identifies the need, the problem and the solution to the problem that exposes the opportunity. The most efficient way to do this is to survey your present customers to find out what their needs are and how you are presently meeting those needs. With this information, you’ll know the hot buttons to push to attract new customers and clients.
Once you know the problem and the opportunity, how do you translate it into a successful new idea? Ask Who, What, Where, How, When and Why to define the problem. Think about how you can make your product or service better. Consider new markets that you can enter, a more established, benefit driven unique selling proposition and ways to tweak your product or service. Sometimes a more expensive product or service to a smaller niche market will yield greater profits.
Assemble all ideas into an action plan. Prioritize the plan and detail the action steps to get it accomplished. Take action, no matter how small it may seem. Just do anything that will get your creative juices flowing. Take a walk, listen to music, meditate, exercise, do a crossword puzzle. Test your creative impulses by listening to your inner voice. Write out your plan, first in broad terms (yearly, monthly, weekly) then down to the minute details (daily, hourly).
Measure the action. Test and study possible conclusions. If your test works with one market, it might work with another market with a little tweaking. The ideal process is to identify one or more business ideas, test them, and then continue with developing the idea that has the best possibility for success. Test new headlines, new offers, and guarantees in your direct mail. Offer bonuses for responding sooner rather than later. Instill a sense of urgency in your message.
Using your new measurements, expand your horizons into new territories. Find a hungry niche market, then develop a series of products that you can sell in a packaged system. Once this niche is successful, sell the method you used to sell to that niche and encourage others to follow your suggestions in “their” niches.
Finally, to generate valuable business ideas, you need to understand the difference between your customer and the consumer. Consumers are forever advancing, wanting more, looking for something new. Your customers are those that happen once chose to transact with you and a likely the result of your past offering, your previous routes to market and your brand footprint. You will have a reach, a particular following that does not represent the whole market. Look out for the changing consumer and prepare to buy into your future by getting close and understanding their evolving needs. Your future and potential big leaps in your market share and growth lie with the consumer.
Survival of your business and keeping ahead of your competition is indeed contingent upon your fresh and innovative business ideas. However, you have to be creative and innovative for you to generate any valuable and competitive business idea. Dreams and action are the two mothers of inspiration and business success. Creativity is the process of idea generation, and innovation is making it happen in a new and valuable way. Consider these proven and tested idea generation methods, thoughts and planning strategies and put them into action. Remember, the idea is just the beginning, you will need to take the necessary measures in order to succeed.
There is no doubt that Agora Publishing is the Google of email marketing. No competitor comes even close. This is the $100 million company founded by Michael Masterson that stands tall and way above the rest.
It is telling that most of Agora’s revenue is generated through email marketing free newsletters and exceptional copywriting.
But what exactly does Agora do that other people do not do? What are the real secrets behind the tons of cash the company has been generating for years?
The first thing that stands out about Agora Publishing is the quality of free information that the company keeps on giving away for free. It is always the kind of high quality information that people would easily pay good money for. The company keeps on churning out newsletters packed with actionable tips that are highly targeted and actually address the prospects’ most pressing problems directly. And when the information is put to use, it works. But Agora gives it all away for free.
Everybody knows what an email newsletter is supposed to do. If you do not, you came to the right place (check out my other articles).
But what most of us do is try to hold off as much of the information with the real value as we can. We save it all for the paid product or eBook that we will ultimately sell to the prospect that we are trying to build a relationship with. Of course the prospect quickly sees through our selfish approach and rather than build the relationship they unsubscribe to all that “trash” we bombard their inbox with. Bottom line the typical Internet marketer is always in a terrible hurry to sell.
In sharp contrast Agora focuses on building a solid relationship first ad they do this by giving away lots of high value information for free without appearing to be in any hurry to get at the prospects’ wallet. The result is that a strong emotional tie is developed as the giver of valuable information quickly establishes themselves as an authority in the field. So when something is finally offered for sale it is quickly purchased.
That neatly explains the fact that you will rarely see one off reports in Agora marketing. Instead, the focus is constantly on regular valuable email newsletters that deliver value.
Is it any wonder that the company gets the kind of response rates the rest of us can only dream of? In one example Agora generated a staggering $6 million from one $27 eBook. Most Internet marketers would be over the moon if they generated just half of that in an entire year from an array of different products.
Another aspect that clearly stands out in Agora are the copywriting skills employed. Clearly the company has carefully studied and replicated the approach and formats of even offline direct response gurus and giants like Clayton Makepeace, Weiss International and Boardroom.
Successful direct response folks understand their prospect extremely well so much so that they can think like their customer and are therefore able to effortlessly produce the copy that will touch all the hot buttons and get people to do exactly what they want. Agora seems to have picked up all this from mostly offline companies that have been in the direct response business for many decades. The results can clearly be seen in Agora’s bulging balance sheet.
The foundation of its’ bond with the prospect starts with the copy used to convince the would-be customers that they can get exactly what they are looking for by subscribing and staying subscribed to the email newsletter.
Best friends are always together, always doing things together and interacting. This is a principal at the very heart of the Agora strategy. It is interesting how the rest of us are even terrified at times about sending off our email newsletters too frequently because our list (built at great cost) may end up rapidly shrink with too many unsubscribing from it.
Frequent communication using only high quality value works in building relationships with lists and will ultimately deliver amazing results.
In other words you do not know when the prospect will be ready to make a purchase but more frequent communication dramatically increases the chances that they will hear from you just when they need you.
In a way this is the same concept behind the success of Google advertising response and revenue. Right from the beginning the search giant went to great pains to ensure that displayed ads were always closely relevant to the keywords searched for by the prospect. Highly relevant information delivered via email to a carefully targeted audience will hardly provoke folks to unsubscribe. Rather, it will draw them closer and prepare them for that offer to buy when it comes.
Agora invests very heavily in in-house staff and expertise to generate an endless supply of quality content. Both for the website used to build the email opt in list and in the newsletters themselves.
When you really think about it, there is no substitute to great content and great copywriting in successful email and Internet marketing. This is really where the war is quickly won or lost. The message here is that for your email marketing to succeed you will need to spend a lot of time and resources on your content. Without it, nothing else will pan out.
The real message here and the ultimate Agora secret is that although they do the same things everybody else does, they do it very differently. With more passion and focus on human nature and the customer. Everything is about the prospect and customer and about doing what will please and amaze the owner of the wallet with the money. And that is one of the key secrets that makes the difference between this 100 million behemoth and the rest of the struggling brigade.
The New Year is a great time to make some changes, and starting a business is one of them. If you are like most people, business idea generation is the biggest hurdle to achieving this goal. How do I choose the best idea? What is the best industry to invest in? Will the idea lead to a successful business? How do I plan and launch the business? Where can I get some unique ideas to invest in? These are some of the questions that this article seeks to answer.
Every successful business started with a simple idea which was molded and built to become the successful brands we know today. World’s richest entrepreneurs including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the late Steve jobs of Apple and Zuckerberg are all products of simple ideas, so how are these ideas generated?
If you were not paid to do what you are doing, would you do it? If you can answer these questions, then you have yourself an idea. Besides, if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. Starting a business from your passion not only gives you the stamina to start and scale, but the drive to keep going when things are thick.
Apple Inc. is a classic example of an empire build from a hobby. After dropping out of college, Steve Jobs poured his heart in designing the first personal computers with color graphics designed mainly for beginners. The venture received amazing reception from computer users and created the business empire Apple Inc. However, founding Apple was not the highlight of Steve’s life, but being fired from the company he started. His burning passion for designing computers led him to start another company NeXt to continue doing what he loved. NeXt became another success story in Steve’s life and another chance for him to return to Apple as the CEO after NeXt was acquired by Apple.
This explains why a hobby is one of the best business idea generation sources. With a hobby, you don’t need a college degree, nor a million dollars in the bank, nor a luxurious office in the right neighborhood. All you need is right within you, your talents, your interests, your hobby and you are ready to take on the world.
Look around at changing trends in the society. What is happening around you? Are people becoming more anti-social, busy or simply lazy? Lori Cheek is one success story who started a business from observing that the society is becoming busier, and people have less time to interact and date. She started an online dating app Cheek’d which is fast revolutionizing the industry.
Lori Cheek’s story is unique since she understood the challenges of online dating and used them to create a product. Cheek’d app connects people in real time, implying that people get a chance to meet in person the first time, and continue the conversation online. The app notifies the users if someone meeting their criteria is within 30 feet thus can meet in person. The concept has enabled many people to meet and build relationships and gave Lori Cheek a chance to feature in the reality TV show Shark Tank though she was turned down by all the sharks.
Thus, look at the dynamics of the society, for instance, one of the biggest challenges in the US today is obesity, what idea can you generate from that? Think of insecurity, divorce, the plight of immigrants, teenage pregnancies, terrorism, unemployment, what ideas can you generate from this? Remember, the social problem is just a starting point; the idea lies in developing a solution to the problem.
Think of the challenges that you encounter as you go about your day. Think of challenges when making breakfast, when taking your kids to school, at work, taking care of your parents or even at your favorite eating joint. The story of Sheila Lirio Marcello is one that many American working mothers can relate to. Trying to strike a balance between a demanding career, family and parents is a hard nut to crack and this situation that led Sheila to create care.com. The trouble that she went through while trying to find care for her sick father and her two boys gave her an idea to create the website which helps families find care such as child care, seniors care, pet care, special needs care, and even housekeeping.
Today, her company has more than 9 million users operating in over 16 countries. Her story is a revelation that your challenges are not unique to you, there are millions of people facing similar challenges and are willing to pay for it. What frustrates you? Is it finding an apartment? Finding a good book to read? Moving stuff from one location to another? Or even the price of common household things. What can you do about it? There lies an idea right there.
Look at the products you use on a daily basis, do you think something can be done to make them better? Value addition as a source of business idea works best by improving existing products and services. King .C Gillette created the brand Gillette through value addition. Prior to launching the product, the only way one could shave was after sharpening the straight razor edge. King. C.Gillette felt the process was tedious and thus there was a need to add value to it, thus created a portable razor that was later adopted by P&G.
Today, Gillette is one of the oldest products that is used worldwide. Hence, look at weaknesses in your hair products, kitchen households, clothing, housekeeping, pet care or even beauty products. What can be done to make them more effective, safer, or last longer?
Traveling is not only a business idea generation source but one of the best ways to rejuvenate. In fact, if you want to live a more fulfilling life, experts recommend buying experiences as opposed to products and traveling is one of such experiences. However, don’t travel for the fun of it, but use the opportunity to look at products and services in your destination.
When Derek Beech and Collins Verdicchio took a trip to South America, they conceived an idea that led to Sumaq Alpaca Rugs. The North America -based company designs rugs using fiber from South-America which is considered to be softer. In order to appeal to the American market, Sumaq Alpaca Rugs were adjusted to suit the taste and style of local households, thus created a successful company. Thus, while traveling look at the hotels, businesses, products, meals, websites, or even clothing.
Note down something about all the things you see, which can be turned to ideas and explore them using the guidelines in the next section of this article.
Idea generation is just the first step of building a business. Unless an idea is implemented, it remains as just that, an idea. Thus, research on an idea is as important as generating the idea. The question that you are seeking to answer here is can the idea be turned into a business? Here is how to research on your idea
Regardless of the source of your idea, it must solve a problem. Having a great product is good, but until it can solve a problem, it will not add value to your life of that of your customers. Thus, you need to identify the problem that you need to solve and specifically how your product can solve the problem. Success lies at the point where your idea meets the problems of your target customers, anything outside that is a recipe for failure.
When generating ideas, it is easy to let your mind go wild and this might lead conceiving non-existent problems. When Maxwell House designed ready to drink coffee, the idea was to make customers enjoy coffee instantly without having to make to make one at home. However, how many people actually hate making a fresh hot coffee? Thus, the idea was great but was meant to fix a non-existent problem.
In any case, many households find brewing coffee a family tradition that gives them a chance to bond, why is that a problem? Thus, ensure your idea is not fixing a non-existent problem. It helps to talk to family and friends about your potential product, their opinion can give you glue on whether or not proceed with implementation.
So you have identified customer’s need, and designed a product or service but there is an existing solution to the problem. Why would customers find your solution better? When researching on your idea, look at all the existing products, and continue implementing your idea after establishing that you can offer a better solution to the existing one.
Classic example of this concept is yahoo and Gmail. Both products were designed to solve a need to communicate, however, Google’s Gmail succeeded by offering a better solution which includes email categorization into primary and promotion categories. Thus, ensure your solution is superior to existing solutions.
Your idea should lead to a product that is scalable or can be expanded. If your idea leads to a product that can serve your family members only, then that is not the best one to implement. A good idea should lead to a product or service that can grow, from family and friends to country level and even global markets. If your product targets a specific clientele, it should be scalable across many places.
Having conceived the idea, and conducting research, the next step is planning to invest in it. Planning strategies is all about determining where you want to go, and laying down the “how’s” to getting there. So how do you do it?
Here, look at all the aspects that are likely to affect the implementation of your idea. Look at the opportunities, competitors, economic viability, target market, the size of the market, political atmosphere. The best way to handle this is by having a detailed and comprehensive business plan. Details on writing a winning business plan will be covered in later sections in this series.
You don’t operate in a vacuum, thus talk to other stakeholders in the industry. This includes professionals with knowledge and skills in the sector, target customers, competitors and other players. After obtaining the feedback, make necessary changes to your idea to make is more realistic, practical and customer oriented.
If your idea leads to a product, develop a prototype of your desired product. This is to ensure that you don’t waste time and money on a product that might not meet your desired needs. If your idea leads to a service, you can offer free services to a small group of people including friends and family before launching it to the target market.
Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression, thus plan to create an impressive first impression. Launching strategies are many and they range from offering free samples, a PR exercise or sponsoring an event. Advertising and marketing are important when launching your product.