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X

Getting off the ground

One of the most common concerns we’ve heard from students, aspiring entrepreneurs, and other professionals goes something like this:

“I want to start my own business, but I don’t know what to do.”

Or:

“What type of business should I start?”

We completely understand. At Novel Coworking, we’ve worked with a variety of different businesses, from tech to healthcare, startups to enterprises. Starting a business can seem like a daunting undertaking, and in many ways it is. But nothing seems more overwhelming than deciding on an initial business idea.

Why you need a business idea

Every business starts with a single idea. Even if you don’t have any employees, office space, or money, you cannot run a business without a good idea.

Consider this Twitter account, nomoneynoideas, who intended to write about his experience starting a business without any money or ideas. The account and website lasted about two months, before activity ceased completely.

You must start with an idea. Otherwise, you may end up working hours on countless tasks without any real idea of what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Entrepreneurs will always experience risk, but you have to find ways to mitigate it as much as possible.

Brainstorming business ideas

There are a few ways to go about this:

 

Find a problem to solve.

Maybe you don’t like how energy bars are branded. Or perhaps you want to create a more efficient way to travel. Rachael Chong was inspired to start Catchafire after a volunteering experience in which she was not able to utilize her financial skills.

 

Stay ahead of the industry.

Notice a new trend or technology taking off? Why not explore its capabilities and potential? Some of the strongest businesses today, like Cisco and Amazon, saw the cloud revolution and have organized their business to deliver on that front.

 

Create a better, cheaper product.

Not everything needs to be reinvented. Sometimes, you just need to take a product, put your own spin on it, or cut out some of the most costly steps. Skullcandy is known for making affordable, highly stylized headphones, but is by no means the first to invent the product.

These are just a few ways to get started. Check out Entrepreneur’s other suggestions, from asking shoppers to innovating in a stagnant field.

 

Developing business ideas

An idea is only the first step. The question becomes- how does one develop a business idea? Once you find a problem and come up with a solution, or once you find a unique niche to operate in, what comes next?

 

The importance of industry knowledge

It’s best to get in touch with professionals in your network- industry experts, mentors, professors, and other business owners. Especially if you’ve never started a business before, there’s only so much you can do with an idea. You need some feedback and guidance to bring it to life.

Contact these individuals on LinkedIn, Facebook, or at local networking events. You may even want to network in your own office or coworking space. Don’t just explain what you plan on doing, offer your help first. Business partnerships begin with the help you can offer others.

 

Set up a business plan and a timeline

What’s the difference between a dream and a goal? Two things: a plan and a timeline. Create a system of organization for clarifying your idea, the steps you will take to achieve it, and the deadlines and milestones to shoot toward.

Some initial things you’ll need to consider in your plan:

A description of your company
An analysis of the market
Your organization and management
Cost structures and revenue streams

To learn more about writing your own business plan, check out a few pointers and examples from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

Examples of successful business ideas

Digital Photo Mentor
Photography can be deceptively difficult. Some people think it’s as simple as pointing and shooting, but in reality, their photos always lack something. Few people understand this like Darlene Hildebrandt. She helps people learn how to use the camera, troubleshoot their problems, and reach the next phase in their photography career through workshops and photography tours.

ProBlogger
Darren Rowse read an article about blogging, and within 24 hours had decided to start his own personal blog. Over the next few years, his blog would explode in popularity, from hobby to a major business platform. Today, ProBlogger has offered invaluable resources for people looking to start making money through blogging.

Starting a business seems tough and complicated, but coming up with an idea to work on isn’t something that should turn you away. An idea is just the beginning- the initial spark or footstep. It’s by no means the final product. Even the best businesses today are nothing like their founders intended. They changed paths, narrowed their focus, or grew beyond that starting point.

 

Want to learn more about starting and running your own business? Visit Novel Coworking’s blog today.