Whether you’re fascinated by the dream of entrepreneurship but haven’t yet hit on what you want to do, or you’ve started working on the first iteration of your business but it hasn’t quite clicked, you’re probably desperate to find the answer to this question:

How do you find your next great business idea?

Of course there’s no foolproof formula you can follow, no set path that’ll guarantee a Dragon’s Den worthy idea. However, having worked with a wildly diverse pool of small business heroes over the years, we’ve discovered the next best thing — six different strategies that have led to incredible ideas and countless business success stories.

1. Think about what you love to do

Yes, this first one is 100% clichéd. It’s also 100% true.

Because building and running a small business is incredibly hard. But if you’re driven by passion for what you do, you’ll find it easier to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and keep on going, even when you hit inevitable entrepreneurial roadblocks.

So think about what you love to do, what your unique skill set looks like, and how you could combine those to develop a business.

2. Remember: it doesn’t have to be an original idea

Now, after reading strategy one, you may be worried about your complete lack of originality.

For example, maybe your passion lies in sharing your yoga skills or making incredible birthday cakes — and there are already a tonne of people who are killing it in those industries.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no space for you to bring your beautifully unique talents to the marketplace. Perhaps you’ll have a wildly different approach to teaching yoga, maybe your teaching style will resonate with an under-represented audience, or your cake decorating skills far outmatch any other baker in a 20 mile radius…

Sometimes, you need to be different; sometimes you just need to be better!

3. Stop seeing annoyances, start seeing opportunities

It happens to everyone; we spend our days cursing inefficiencies, complaining about things that feel harder than they should be, and getting annoyed when things go wrong.

But while most of us are happy to grumble and then move on, those with entrepreneurial spirit are more inclined to view these annoyances as opportunities for innovation.

So, the next time you find yourself complaining about how something works (or more likely doesn’t work), have a think about whether you could improve it instead. Some of the most exciting and lucrative business ideas are born of this type of thinking.

business idea

4. Anticipate the problems of the future

While we’re talking about turning annoyances into opportunities, don’t just focus on the problems of today — a determination to solve the problems of the future is fertile ground for business ideas.

Whether you’re particularly interested in the way we work, the way we socialise, the challenges that climate change may present, or something else entirely, look into predictions of future trends, the potential problems related to these trends, and think about how you might conduct a pre-emptive strike with a groundbreaking new service or product.

5. Stop worrying about where your next business idea is going to come from

Today’s the day: you’re going to finally — finally! — start generating new business ideas. So you settle into your favourite chair, grab your notepad and pen, and wait for that lightbulb moment.

Only, creativity isn’t necessarily something you can switch on and off at will; it’s something you have to allow space for, it’s something you spark when you fill your life with novelty and inspiration. So instead of trying to generate ideas on demand, work on turning your mind into a more fertile space for creativity to take hold.

Where do you start? Leave your office, put down your phone, and take some time away from social media. Take a walk somewhere you’ve never been before, meditate, make time for a creative hobby like drawing or painting, and allow your mind to clear.

Often, our very best ideas hit not when we seek them, but when we’re mindfully engaged in other pursuits. Give it a try!

6. Don’t feel you have to wait for “The One”

Once those ideas start flowing, it’s incredibly tempting to feel like you have to hold out for “The One” — the “genius” idea that trumps all the rest, that will wow investors, that feels like something no one has ever attempted before.

But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with exploring the ideas that ended up on your “maybe” pile. 

In fact, there’s a lot to be said for experimentation and those seemingly mediocre ideas can actually take on new depth and possibility once you start fleshing them out. And even if they flop, you’ll almost certainly have learned valuable lessons that will help you develop future ideas.

The most important thing to consider when you’re trying to generate a business idea? Let go of the pressure to get it right first time. Many entrepreneurs experiment with several ideas, even several businesses, before finding their groove. So, relax your shoulders, ditch the perfectionism, allow your mind to wander, and get ready to experiment. And above all remember that this is an incredibly exciting stage of the entrepreneurial journey — you’re allowed to enjoy it!

Clear Books: Online accounting software for small businesses

Clear Books is an award-winning online accounting software for small businesses. Thousands of business owners, contractors, freelancers and sole traders across the UK use our easy-to-use online accounting software to manage their business finances. All users benefit from the outstanding free telephone and email support. Clear Books was launched in London in 2008 and offers a free 30 day trial with free ongoing support and bank feeds. We’re rated as ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot.

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