It all sounds insane when you do a quick Google search for "Startup ideas" and it yields 52,800,000 results. End result: “wanna be a dog walker?”
But, if business ideas are so plentiful, why would people think there’s such a significant obstacle in finding one?
It’s pretty normal for any potential startup founder to get bombarded with buckets full of ideas when beginning to think of starting a startup. But sadly many of those ideas don’t get to see the light. And it fails prematurely due to the lack of evaluation and nurturing.
Before getting on to the meat of this article, let me raise some assumptions on why did you pick this guide up:
First assumption: You want to become a startup founder, or you already have a business that is in its early stage, or you are just curious to know about building a business from scratch and want to find out if it's for you or not.
Second assumption: Some ideas are already there in your mind, or maybe you have many startup ideas that you are beginning to think of, but you are not sure about which one to go with.
So this topic of today is to help you find many startup ideas and shortlist them.
Suggested Reads: 14 Sure Signs That You Have A Great Business Idea.
Should You Even Become an Entrepreneur?
Before you get on to finding and shortlisting ideas, it’s really important to ask yourself these questions:
- Should I become a startup founder?
- What is it to become an entrepreneur?
- Am I capable enough to take all the risks throughout the journey of becoming an entrepreneur?
Why do most of us think of becoming an entrepreneur?
People often think of them as losers for working in a 9-5 job and drawing out a fixed salary. This is why many of us think to start something on our own, hoping to become masters of our own destiny by achieving financial freedom.
Moreover, all we see on the news and media are about other startups scaling up, businesses raising funds, companies turning to multi-million dollars, etc.
Do You Want To Be An Entrepreneur?
So these are all quite seducing to fall in the trap of “I do want to become an entrepreneur”. Having experience raising many startups over the past decade, we can honestly tell you one thing:
Entrepreneurship is not for everybody.
If we ask anyone why they want to become an entrepreneur, their kind of hesitating answer will be: “I wanna make money”.
If that’s the reason you want to be an entrepreneur, then here’s the truth: 90% of the startups fail, most startups do not work out. This means you are far likelier to make money if you continue to be an employee and have a stable trajectory than to become a startup founder and go through the very low probability of it making success.
The funnel of starting up is not that one day you come with an idea and the next day you are generating business with it. But the actual funnel of starting up looks like this:
- You’ve to think of an Idea.
- Then you’ve started working on the Idea.
- The idea has to be smart enough that people like it.
- It has to be liked by so many people that they are willing to pay for it.
- The paid amount has to big enough for the company to break-even.
- It has to grow at a pace that excites people, whether it’s investors or others who want to be part of this.
- It will be at this stage you have to look for startup funding or raising investments.
- If you raise money, then you have to grow even further.
- You have to continue doing this for several rounds.
- At some point of time, you can show an exit; whether you sell to someone or you IPO.
- This is the stage at which you see the money.
All through these steps you do not see any money, it’s just the struggle of being a startup founder, and it’s not easy, but that’s the way it is. So do not pick on entrepreneurship if your key motivation is to make money.
Secondly, don’t become an entrepreneur if you are bored of your job, it’s the worst reason.
If you are bored of your job, or you don’t want to work with someone else, or you don’t want to be someone else’s employee, they just aren’t a valid reason for becoming an entrepreneur, instead you have to step back and have an honest conversation with yourself,
“What’s it that I don’t like about my job?”
“What’s it that I could do to fix it?”
Maybe it’s just a change of industry, or the company, or might change your department within the company. To say “I want to become an entrepreneur on my own” just because you can’t handle the pressure will never make you a successful startup founder.
And lastly, don’t try to become an entrepreneur because your friends or the world around you is becoming one. Don’t fall for FOMO!
Why Entrepreneurship Is Right For You?
So if you can’t be an entrepreneur for the above 3 reasons, then for what cause can you become an entrepreneur?
The right reason to become a startup founder must be that you want to solve a problem. You should become an entrepreneur because you are entirely consumed, obsessed, and convinced of a problem you wish to solve. Not the solution, mind you, but the problem causing it.
Anyone looking to become an entrepreneur or a startup founder, they must be willing to do any or all of the following:
- You should become an entrepreneur if you are extremely driven by a problem that irritates or frustrates you, and you feel that it should be done in the first place.
- You want to be an entrepreneur if you are someone who has exhibited that drive in your past life, whether at work or during studies, that makes you get up every morning and work for the solution.
- Lastly and most importantly, you should become an entrepreneur only if you have the core skill needed to make the startup work or at least have people or resources with you for the same.
For example, if you are thinking of starting a tech startup, you have to be a techie or you have people who are good techies that can do the job for you. So it’s really important you have the first set of founding team members in place.
By now, you might have got an idea of how hard it is to walk through the journey of being a successful startup founder. So it’s brutally hard to become an entrepreneur, but is it impossible? Not at all. If you are determined, no matter what happens, how much time you fail, you have the willpower to keep moving forward, this journey is for you.
So now, let’s jump into the main part of this guide.
Idea Vs. Concept – Explaining The Difference
Having a great business idea isn't enough to become a significant success. If you want your company to take off, you'll need to develop a clear business idea.
It's risky to start from scratch based solely on an idea. A business is built on well-defined concepts and plans, not just ideas. Instead, focus on transforming your ideas into concrete images that you can include in your business plan.
What is the definition of a business concept?
A concept is a well-defined idea that has been put to the test to see if it is credible.
A business concept is a business idea that includes details such as the service/product, target audience, and a unique value proposition that differentiates a company from competitors.
There is a clear distinction between idea and concept in the business world.
What is The Difference Between An Idea And A Concept?
An idea is a "mental construct" of a business possibility or opportunity that you have come up with.
A concept can be thought of as a refined version of an idea that is less inconsistent.
A business concept is usually a single or two statements that summarise the essence of your product or service.
Here's another illustration:
Business Idea: I'd like to start a hotel chain.
Business Concept: I’d like to open a chain of low-cost hotels that cater to a diverse range of customers, including families, seniors, and pet owners.
You've identified your target market and intend to focus on providing reasonably priced rooms. You could add other items based on your research, such as family-friendly hotels with children's play areas, and so on.
Let’s now jump deep into the second part of our guide and see how we can implement the above techniques to identify ideas for a Startup.
How Do You Identify Ideas for Your New Startup?
A lot of people say, you must first start with the problem that you experience. I think that's a piece of poor advice because no one out there cares about your problem unless they experience it too. For example, you have a pet, and you are struggling to get it mated. However, there’s nothing out there called “Pet mating service.”
So would that idea be great to build a startup business around it? Well, the last thing any pet owner wants is their pet getting mated, and this problem might be only worrying you or a handful of people you know. If the issue you are about to solve doesn’t bother a wide number of people, then it’s better not to do business around it.
However, your problems are a good start because it’s pretty likely the problems that you are facing are the problems many people face. So, if you are someone struggling to find medicines online as you stay in some remote corner of the country,
Or if you are struggling to get access to good quality teachers,
Or you find it hard to get products delivered at your doorsteps due to unavailability of online delivery platforms,
These are all great problems to start with, but the journey is not to stop at your problem. Instead, you should start from there and then solve the problems of the whole community. You have to repeatedly ask yourself this question multiple times before you choose to solve a problem that you face::
How many others also go through this same problem? Like how many others would be waking up and saying: “I wish there were someone who could solve this problem.”
That is the problem you should be thinking of.
How to Shortlist a bunch of Startup Ideas?
So by now you might have a huge list of ideas you wish to start a business. Say you have got 30 of them. But it’s simply not practical for you to build an app for every kind of idea on your list. Of Course, you will get exhausted by the amount of money spent on that.
Instead, you have to shortlist your ideas by filtering them out based on priority or easiness in its execution. For each of the ideas on your list, get to the shortest possible mechanism to figure out how or why this idea could become interesting.
Once you figure out the mechanism behind your idea, a lot of them within your list will get eliminated, and you will be left with 15 - 20 ideas. Still, it's a pretty big list to continue down the lane.
So the next step is to name the product, don’t make it just about an idea. The minute you name something, it becomes emotional. You become attached to it in a way that expresses yourself better than it was if it was just an idea.
So name your idea. It need not be an eventual brand name, but at least develop something that feels like you connect with it.
After you’ve done naming all of your startup ideas, don’t feel bad about eliminating any which doesn’t sound cool, or you cannot connect with it even after naming.
Moving on, you can give taglines to each of the startup ideas within your updated list. You can just come up with a one-line description of what your business does. If it goes beyond a line, you are not clear yourself, and you will not convince anyone else.
Once you come up with the one-line description, then come up with the problem that your product solves.
You’ve to really ask this question of “what’s the problem that my product is trying to solve”, only then you’ll see whether this product is even needed or not.
If you are articulating something that is not a big problem, then it’s likely that you will not have an easy journey. If only the problem is huge, your product or the solution can trigger some kind of feeling within thousands of people. This will keep them relying on you.
With this massive step of describing the real problem that your idea is solving, you can fine-tune your previously updated list to 5-6 genuine and potential startup ideas. And it is quite possible to be a successful startup founder on any of those 5-6 ideas.
Now the next step in our journey is to give your idea a soul by creating a logo. Once again, I remind you that these processes are not the actual steps for any business to start; rather, they all are temporary and are just to shortlist the ideas for you. Once you have picked your one true Idea to start your business on, we will then rebuild all of the business structures in real-time.
So, how do you create a logo for your business?
There are plenty of methods and online resources available for you to help generate a logo. Canva is the best option for you if you have some basic editing skills. Alternatively, you can depend on Fiverr or Upwork to hire some designers to do the job for you.
Once that’s over with, the next step tells us to create a landing page. Now, what’s a landing page?
For those who confuse a landing page with that of a website, a landing page is basically a website that serves as a one-page description of what your product or service does. We’ve been on several of these landing pages in our journey of clicking on Ads, whether on Google or Social Media.
How do you create a landing page, especially if you are not a coder or a techie?
You start with something called a wireframe, and don’t worry; it’s not technical. A wireframe is a box way of thinking about a product, a web page, or a website. It simply means a layout for your website that doesn’t have colors and only the bare minimum texts. You can easily create this on Powerpoint.
To get ideas on landing pages, just visit Dribbble and search for landing page examples. You’ll find enough inspiration. Dribbble is a great platform to look at examples of high-quality designs and graphics that you would want on your website or application.
Once you get yourself clear about the design, go to Fiverr to find someone who is a designer and ask them to convert the wireframe to an actual colorful design.
One vital thing to always keep in mind is that you have to be clear about the call to action or within the landing page. Whether the user has to provide their email address for a subscription, or to collect some other information like phone numbers, location, etc., you have to be clear about that while designing your landing page.
So now, what do you have at this point? You have a bunch of ideas, you’ve also described what the idea does, the problem that it solves, you have some happy logos for many of those ideas, and finally, you have a beautifully designed landing page.
By now, you would have realised the ideas that best suit you.
The above practices of naming the product or services, finding a tagline, describing what it does, designing a fantastic logo, and creating a landing page will add some emotional attachment to you. It will help you to choose the best idea to execute.
But what if your idea does not have a market for it? This is the following process that you need to perform, "Validate the idea."
The best and fastest way to validate your idea is to run an Ad campaign for the landingpage you have just created and evaluate your visitors’ responses. You need to create an ad to see whether the problem you thought the product could solve is something people are excited by.
Once you can collect hundreds to up to a thousand responses, you will surely get to know whether it’s the right call to go with the idea or to tune it based on feedback received from your audience or completely replace the idea with another one on the list.
So this way, you can create some sort of rank order within the ideas you have, based on the analytics you get after running ads on each of those startup ideas. That’s when you say you’ve shortlisted two or three inspiring ideas from dozens of them.
It's past time for you to start turning your ideas into concepts. This is how you do it:
How to Turn Your Ideas into Successful Business Concepts?
The first step is to clarify your concept by following the steps below and answering the standard questions like "What is your offering?" and "What does your product/service do?"
Identify Your Target Market
Determine which segments of the business's good market can be segmented. Determine who your target market is. Determine where and to whom you want to sell your goods and services, and target your marketing efforts accordingly.
When you're looking for and defining your target market, make sure to keep the following in mind:
- Analyse Your Customer Base: If you're already in business, collecting and analysing your customer data is the best way to define your target market.
- Determine Your Competitors: Existing businesses will operate in your field of interest unless your idea is revolutionary or game-changing. As early as possible, identify your competitors and their marketing strategies.
- Examine the customer base of your competitors: Examine your competitors' customer base; who do they try to reach with their marketing? What stores do they sell their wares?
Identification of the Market
It's time to do a basic check on the viability of your business idea in the target market once you've figured out your target market and audience.
In simple terms, it's a method of determining whether or not your business idea will be of interest to your target market.
This will assist you in gaining a better understanding of the target market and what it requires. You can determine whether or not your product belongs in the category you intended.
Once you've completed these steps correctly, you can move forward and begin working on your idea with a clear vision.
Find out what your idea's value proposition is
The value proposition can be thought of as the tangible benefits that a customer will receive due to consuming or experiencing your offering.
A value proposition is a simple statement that says:
- explains the advantages.
- explains how the product or service solves a customer's problem.
- distinguishes your offering from that of your competitors.
Make a value proposition that is rooted in your company. Keep in mind who you're trying to reach. Instead of focusing on what goes into your idea, your value proposition should focus on the benefits it provides.
This will assist you in fleshing out your concept and putting everything together to form your business concept.
You haven't finished yet.
Enhance the situation
You started with an idea and developed a concept, but none of that matters if you can't act on your feedback and put it to the test. Continue to improve it until there is nothing else to do.
Now you can pat yourself on the back! You've developed your concept into a viable business concept.
Once the business concept has been defined, the work of developing a business model and putting it into action can begin.
Entrepreneurship is a mix of experience and trying out different strategies. As everything we learned so far in our life is with the aid of trial and error, so does building up a successful business. We have to think and work out all the possible dimensions of building a business.
If one strategy doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean you failed; rather, it will give you many insights on why it doesn’t work, and it will help you decide better next time.
Same as in the case with the list of ideas you created, once you find out a particular idea doesn’t work, you can either make it right or replace it entirely with a new idea. That’s how one validates their idea and raises their startup to a successful million-dollar company.
At NeoITO, we helped our clients transform their startup ideas into successful reality because we believe that their success is our success. We supported them through their entire journey and helped them grow fast from zero to multi-million dollar evaluation. So, if you are a startup looking for help, connect with us for a one-on-one free consultation for transforming your big idea.