Brilliant business ideas that solve customer pain points aren't always easy to come by. But when you can generate an idea that truly clicks with your target audience, you'll be able to make your business a success, regardless of its niche.
For many people, the challenge doesn't lie so much in knowing how to run a business, but rather, in generating that brilliant business idea in the first place. Fortunately, there are several proven practices you can use to go from a single spark of an idea to a successful business endeavor.
1. Try to discover what's next.
While no one can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, trying to envision what the future might look like can be a key starting point to generating a winning idea. Many of the most successful businesses achieved their status because they led the charge with new technologies or new ways of doing things.
This became especially clear during a meeting with Daniel Mitchell, founder and CEO of Alt-Tech. With over 20 years of experience in the cyber security industry, Mitchell has seen many tech-driven changes firsthand in both the private and public sphere and was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee for advancing the R.C.M.P Major Case Management Electronic Investigations.
Mitchell noted that many successful tech-oriented businesses achieve their status by applying new innovations to a product or service category that hasn't recently undergone major developments or changes. Considering how new technology can alter or improve a particular niche can serve as a powerful idea-generating exercise. With the right tools and team, those "what if" questions can soon become a reality.
2. Find the gaps in your niche.
Many would-be entrepreneurs understandably feel the most comfortable applying their skills and knowledge in the same general niche or industry where they've spent most of their careers. This can sometimes make it easier to identify issues with pricing, product quality, or other areas where customers experience problems.
In this case, you might be able to do the same thing as others in your industry, but simply better. On the other hand, perhaps you've identified underserved groups that could become a viable target market. Or you recognize a related service that isn't being offered by current competitors in the industry.
Sometimes, niching down to focus on a smaller target market is the perfect way to find and fill gaps in your niche. Just take Chris Dingman, who was named to the Inc. 5000 list after forming a company that focused on professional athlete relocation.
With many athletes dealing with unexpected trades and roster changes (often during the playing season), they find themselves needing to buy or sell real estate and relocate valuable belongings on a very short timetable. By focusing on the specific needs of this unique group, Dingman was able to create a successful company in an otherwise crowded niche.
3. Consider your own problems.
While this piece of advice may have been repeated so often that it's practically become cliche, there's a good reason why this continues to be go-to advice for anyone trying to come up with a business idea. Quite simply, it tends to work.
Your problems don't necessarily need to be related to your current career, either. You could look around your own house or neighborhood to find things that a new product or service could make easier. You can also consult with family, neighbors or work associates to gain an understanding of some of the challenges they face on a regular basis. Even seemingly mundane tasks can find a large market of people interested in ways to make them easier -- just think of robot vacuums.
Even if the associated niche or industry for the problem you identify is completely different from your current line of work, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Applying your skills to a new area could help you approach the problem with a unique perspective and different insights than someone who has spent a lifetime working in that industry.
Developing a winning business idea doesn't mean you have to reinvent the wheel or come up with something out of thin air. By using the readily available sources of inspiration in your daily life, you can discover meaningful pain points that you are uniquely positioned to address. Test those ideas, and see where they'll take you.