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How to come up with a business idea

Launching your own business can come with many exciting challenges – but what if the first challenge is deciding on the best idea for your start-up?

Perhaps you’re keen to start a new business but feel pressure to develop an original and innovative concept.

The good news is, you don’t have to – many successful businesses are based on pre-existing ideas, albeit with improvements or a unique twist.

Interestingly, one of the top reasons many start-ups fail is that there is no market need opens in new window for their business, according to research by CB Insights.

This is why market research opens in new window is so important for start-up entrepreneurs, especially at the beginning of your start-up journey.

If you’ve yet to decide the right business focus for your start-up, read on for our tips to spark creativity.


Six ways to come up with a business idea

We’ve come up with six tips to help you come up with the right business idea for you.


Think about your passions and hobbies

Ever heard of the phrase ‘Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’?

If you decide to become your own boss, consider looking to your hobbies for possible business ideas opens in new window.

Perhaps you love coaching a local kids’ sports team opens in new window or enjoy making your own beauty products opens in new window – starting a business based on your passion could be a smart move.


Look at the skills and experience you already have

One sensible way to start a business is by using your existing skills and experience.

For instance, if you have previous experience working in finance and know how to use certain software or can handle company accounts opens in new window, you could start a freelance or consulting business opens in new window using the skills you’ve gained from past jobs.


Identify any issues or gaps in the market

Conducting competitor and market research opens in new window is one of the key first steps to starting a business.

Consider thoroughly researching what your potential competitors are already doing, what they’re not doing, and what customers really want opens in new window – then use this information to identify business opportunities.

Your findings could spark a business idea that meets customer needs and show how you can set your business apart from competitors.


Look into upcoming trends

Researching upcoming market trends can help you understand what your potential audience is likely to want in the future.

This insight can reveal gaps in the market opens in new window – or inspire new, relevant, and timely business ideas that put you ahead of the competition.

For example, in the wake of the Covid pandemic, there was a surge in demand for online exercise classes – many fitness professionals met this demand with live-streamed gym sessions and virtual personal training.


Improve on existing business ideas

If an existing company currently serves the same purpose as your potential start-up, don’t let that put you off.

Competitor research may show you a cheaper and more effective way of working that your competitors have missed.

This could apply to any business, from flower delivery services to digital marketing companies.

Finding a better way to provide customers with the same product or service could set your new business apart.


Find a problem – and solve it

If you recognise a problem in a particular industry, why not create a start-up to help solve it?

Reading industry leaders’ customer reviews opens in new window and opinion pieces could show you what customers need and highlight what’s missing in a particular industry.

If you can provide those products or services, that could be an idea worth building on to create your own business.

For example, if you see that the customers of local fast-food businesses want healthier options, you might launch a company that focuses on fresh and nutritious ingredients.


How to boost your creativity

Coming up with a great business idea requires a lot of inspiration.

Here are five tips to help you feel at your most creative.


Invite friends over to brainstorm

Brainstorming can be a great way to generate ideas without being restricted by rules – and sometimes, two (or more!) heads are better than one.

Asking friends to discuss your ideas could help you find a fresh perspective.

Be open to all ideas, and consider whether they could contribute to an innovative business concept.

Your brainstorm might include products and services to surprising partnerships with other companies opens in new window.

If your brainstorming goes well, you might hold regular sessions – or even start a new business together.


Have a change of scene

Need some creative stimulation?

If you’ve been cooped up at home working on start-up ideas, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine – a change of scene could get your mind working in a new way.

Simply moving to another location, such as a coffee shop opens in new window, the library, or a friend’s home office, could make it easier for good ideas to flow.

Sometimes, just spending time in nature opens in new window can help you reboot your creative energy – why not wander around the park or local woodland during your lunch break?


Draw a mind map

A mind map is a graphic way to organise information around a central concept – related topics or ideas branch out from this central point, creating a ‘map’.

Drawing one can boost your creative thinking by helping you visualise your thoughts.

By seeing all your ideas laid out, you could discover connections between existing ideas or spark a brilliant new business concept.

For instance, your central idea might be ‘French Deli’ with branches leading to ‘French wines’, ‘French cheeses’, and ‘Pastry-making classes’, with every branch leading to more details about each idea.


Do ‘easy’ research

Don’t pressure yourself to conduct heavy-duty research 24/7 – reading articles about your business idea, listening to relevant podcasts, and watching documentaries are all simple ways to boost your creativity.

By absorbing new information in a structured format that doesn’t require too much concentration, you could become more imaginative.

Research around different subjects and industries can also be beneficial for creativity, helping you look at your market from a new angle.


Take a break

Need a holiday? A trip abroad can be relaxing, but it could also provide a creative boost for your start-up project as you look at the world with fresh eyes.

Different regions and cultures approach business and problem-solving in unique ways – observing how things operate in another country or city could inspire new and innovative ideas.


What makes a good start-up idea?

The definition of a good business idea will depend on your individual goals – what is your idea of a ‘good’ start-up?

For some entrepreneurs, it will be the business with the potential to make the most money, but for others, it might be the one that aligns best with their lifestyle and work preferences.

Maybe you want your start-up to allow you to be physically active, use your professional skillset, or spend more time with your family.

Make a list of your priorities to decide whether your start-up ideas will offer you the benefits you need.

Another crucial element is to decide whether there is a clear demand for your business idea – have you identified a target audience opens in new window?

What are their needs, and how will you meet them?

Consider, too, whether your idea has the potential to be scalable and profitable opens in new window.

Ultimately, the best start-up idea is the one that works for you.

Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window  include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.


Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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