The Idea

The idea is the basis for starting any business. The idea can range anywhere from coming up with your own product, to purchasing a pre-existing business. One of the first business opportunities that I had, we spent several hours brainstorming ideas. There are several things to keep in mind when brainstorming:

  • What problem is the product/service solving?
  • Who is the target audience for the product/service?
  • What is the size of the market?
  • Is there a niche for the product/service? If so, does your idea build upon those ideas, or recreate the wheel?
  • Monetization. How are you going to make money off of the product? (this can be a hard one, when you are starting your first business)
  • And finally, is the problem worth solving?

Lets break this down.

What problem is the product/service solving? Are you making someones life easier by providing this service or product? lets use Shopify as an example, created by a couple of guys who decided that the e-commerce platforms on the market at the time were not good enough. They created an e-commerce platform that was innovative, and not only that, but something that they desperately needed for their new business. The original plan was to sell snowboards, but in their quest to find a suitable platform to sell their product, they discovered that there was a need for a better online e-commerce system. When brainstorming, try to think about what the underlying problem truly is.

Who is the target audience for the product/service? are you targeting normal everyday people or business owners? small family owned businesses or bigger corporations? With Shopify, they have a fairly wide audience, ranging from the average joe to bigger multimillion dollar businesses. Figure out who your audience is so you can target them specifically. If you try to market to everyone at the same time, chances are you are not going to succeed.

what is the size of the market? Are there currently big players in the market that you are targeting? If you are coming up with the next Facebook or Twitter, then the market is going to be very tough to get into. With big players holding a huge market share in a specific area, it will be very difficult to persuade people to go with your product. When creators of Shopify started back in 2006, there wasn’t a lot of other businesses in the e-commerce world that were targeting the everyday user. Today, Shopify has over 500,000 active accounts and has processed billions in sales.

How are you going to monetize the product? When it comes to thinking up a product, thinking of how we are going to be making money can be daunting. Myself as an example, for the longest time I had the mindset that nothing I had was worth charging money for. I would fix family members computers for free every time I went home, when in reality I was providing a service that people would be willing to pay for me to provide. We all have something, an idea or a service, that someone is willing to pay for. So the question comes down to, are you going to be charging your customers directly? or are you going to make money off of advertising? If you are offering a product, say for instance t-shirts, odds are you are going to charge for that product. If are wanting to make money by providing people with information in a blog, then you are probably going to be making money by using some sort of advertisement. I will go more in-depth into the different forms of monetization in a later post.

Feel free to use this printer friendly PDF including the questions I have provided above when brainstorming your ideas.
It can take time to come up with a worthwhile idea. Sometimes a good idea just comes to you, other times it can take hours or days of just brainstorming to come up with a good idea. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t come up with something right away. Happy Brainstorming!

References:
So, Sheryl. “Shopify Announces Fourth-Quarter and Full Year 2016 Financial Results.” Shopify Press, 15 Feb. 2017, http://www.shopify.com/press/releases/shopify-announces-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-2016-financial-results.
Duncan, Katherine. “How Shopify Became the Go-To Ecommerce Platform for Startups.” Entrepreneur, 12 Mar. 2012, http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222967.

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