9 tips for finding a business idea

If you’ve always been drawn to entrepreneurship but have never taken the leap because you haven’t found THE idea - the 9 tips in this article will give your creativity just the boost it needs!

1. Start with what you know how to do and enjoy doing

Rather than searching the outer world for that long-awaited business concept, start the thought process from your own skills, interests and talents! What are the tasks you breeze through with pleasure and satisfaction? What subject areas do you friends and colleagues come to you about? Has a friend ever told you “You’ve got a gift for…”  or “I could really see you doing….”? These are the first avenues for reflection to explore.

A simple exercise you can do to complete this thought process is compare your skills and your areas of interest. Take a paper and a pencil: list your skills in a column on the left (organizing events, writing blog articles, manually crafting objects, etc.), and your passions on the right (cooking, sports, human resources, new technologies, etc.) and draw a line between the columns.

All in all, you’d be better off with a business project that’s nothing revolutionary but that you’re in sync with (it’s your “thing,” you’re familiar with the sector, the know-how, the network, etc.) than something innovative you’re drawn to more for its potential than your passion.

2. Use critical thinking to find an idea by building on another

No need to reinvent the wheel. Look to see what’s already out there and how you can build on it to create your own activity. Explore the possibility of innovating around an existing product or service (shipping, distributing, offerings, client experience, clientele, etc.). To do so, think about questions like: is it the best product/service, the most efficient, the least expensive, the most reliable, the most user-friendly? What are its flaws? and reflect on how to improve it.

You can also draw inspiration from a concept that’s a hit in another country1 and isn’t yet offered in Luxembourg (careful, you will have to revamp it).

3. Let your curiosity run wild

Head out to trade shows, faire and other events2 relating to your areas of interest (or not!) and find out about the new products being showcased and/or up-and-coming trends.

Take time to read magazines and professional journals on your topics of interest, surf the web and feed your thought process.

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4. Pinpoint what makes your life difficult and ask the people around you

Keep you mind and your eyes open at all times – at home, at work, at school, in your neighbourhood, on vacation, during your commutes…! Write down every nuisance and dream up how to fix them!

Quiz the people around you (friends, family, colleagues) as to what could be useful to them that isn’t sold in a store, what they dream of that doesn’t yet exist, etc. Why not meet up with them to brainstorm together and come up with a slew of new ideas!

5. Be a trend-hunter - keep a watch on launches of new concepts and products

Maybe you’ll find inspiration in a budding company, then you can transpose the concept into your sector!

A few websites3 are dedicated to detecting emerging trends and sharing innovative ideas4. Subscribe to their newsletters!

6. Reinvent a traditional trade via the web

Certain ‘traditional’ professions including artisanal trades are now booming again thanks to new production and/or distribution methods and even access to new markets. See if you can ferret out an opportunity and develop it.

7. Take over an existing company, why not?

If what you want is to go into business in a pre-structured environment, why not look into a takeover project? To find out about companies up for grabs near you, contact the House of Entrepreneurship and their “One-Stop Shop to Transfer5” service.

To take things a step farther: "Starting up or taking over a company : pros and cons6"

8. Start a franchise

Opening a franchise is a great way to benefit from the notoriety of an established brand, the know-how of the franchiser, and the appropriate training. Plus, franchise networks exist in a very wide array of sectors. Do however keep in mind that Luxembourg, as opposed to neighbouring countries, has yet to legislate on franchise matters, though certain formalities must be respected.

9. Launch a social business

Do you want to give meaning to the economy, find answers to current environmental and social issues (inequalities, social exclusion, ….) in a combination of economic profitability and social impact? You’ve found your calling - a future in social entrepreneurship awaits! Find that social innovation7 and get started. The coaches and experts at Impuls8 will be happy to accompany you in your journey (free of charge).

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As a general rule in your brainstorming process, don’t be afraid of potentially looking ridiculous – let the ideas flow freely and work from there!

Lastly, remember that, in the end, starting a business is only a good thing if:

  1. You’re enthusiastic about it and it lines up as well with your desires, values, financial and social constraints as it does with your skills!
  2. It interests other people than yourself and the other people are willing to pay for your product/service – basically, if there are customers for it!

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