How to Start a Business with No Ideas

How to Start a Business with No Ideas

If you're thinking about embracing your entrepreneurial side and starting your own business, you're not the only one: Data from Yelp showed that 57,000 new businesses opened in March 2021 alone, the largest number since April 2020.

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business openings by month 2020-2021

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But what if you know you want to start a business but aren't sure what kind of business it should be? Not a problem — with the help of these simple tips you'll soon have plenty of ideas to spare. 

Crowdsource New Business Ideas

What's the first thing to do when starting a new business? Sometimes the best strategy is to simply give the people what they want. And to do that, you can gather ideas from potential future customers. 

If you think you may want to start a local business that operates within a limited geographic region, start by rounding up insights from members of the community. While you can certainly do so in person, you may be able to reach a greater variety of people by turning to digital platforms such as: 

If you think you'll want to start a business that serves customers in any region (or if you simply want to glean more diverse insights), you can get inspiration from more far-reaching online communities like: 

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Do Some Reading

If you're on a tight budget (or just want to avoid a risky investment) then you may be asking yourself, "How do I become an entrepreneur with no money?"

Luckily, countless successful entrepreneurs have already published their answers to that question in the form of readily available books. And with ebook stores like Amazon's Kindle Store and the Apple Books app, you can start reading (and getting small profitable business ideas) today. 

Some well-reviewed examples include: 

The $100 Startup

This New York Times bestseller from author Chris Guillebeau doesn't deal in platitudes. Instead, it examines 1,500 people whose businesses have earned $50,000 or more from small investments (typically about $100) and pays special attention to the 50 most fascinating cases. 

Read this book if you want to skip the theories and dive right into learning what's worked for other entrepreneurs. 

Starting a Business QuickStart Guide

Ken Colwell, who holds a PhD in strategic management as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, starts his guide by explaining the difference between an idea and an opportunity, where opportunities come from and what separates the top-notch ones from the sub-par. 

Read this book if you're looking for a convenient, all-in-one guide to starting, building and operating your own business. 

The Book on Small Business Ideas

Here, author and experienced entrepreneur Justin Gesso provides exercises you can use to generate ideas for profitable small businesses and side jobs. You'll also learn simple ways to bring your best ideas to fruition. 

Read this book to find out how to not only create your own ideas, but also to critically evaluate them and determine which have the most real-world potential. 

Take Your New Business Idea on a Test Drive

Once you've come up with an idea you think might just work, there's no need to put all your time and money on the line. Instead, work out the kinks before you go all-in by putting your idea to the test. 

You can do so by: 

  • Getting feedback from potential customers and other entrepreneurs
  • Conducting market research, such as by running a focus group or reading recent reports on the current state of your chosen field
  • Analyzing your would-be competitors to discover both their pain points and their most successful areas
  • Creating a test website, social media profile and marketing strategy, and putting all three into action on a small scale
  • Testing your idea on a small number of real customers (hint: you can find prime candidates for testing by reaching out to people via the online platforms described above)

When you're ready to dive into the nuts and bolts of testing your new business idea, you might want to utilize a practical resource like the book Will It Fly? by author and entrepreneur Pat Flynn. Doing so will help guide your approach and ensure your tests are both methodical and genuinely valuable. 

Coming up with a winning small business idea takes some time, but it will ultimately be more than worth your while. By doing your due diligence, you can exponentially increase your chances of creating a business that's efficient, effective and profitable. 

Incfile | Start a Business Checklist
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