Many fascinating businesses come from simple thoughts and ideas. And these ideas are not the exclusive preserve of these entrepreneurs. Ideas could flow to just anybody, what gives it life is the timely and direct actions taken on the idea(s). Even after we seem to have suddenly discovered a goldmine million naira business idea, chances are, some people have thought about it too, and some may be acting on the same line of thoughts, but you can still find a way to make your enterprise different from what is obtainable.
How do we get these ideas? Many budding entrepreneurs have asked. The simple truth is that it mostly doesn’t come from idea brainstorming sessions in business schools but from our simple day-to-day activities. The best ideas are mostly from entrepreneurs who had failed with several other business ideas. Seun Osewa’s nairaland.com is probably the last of the series of blogs, forums and online tech solution websites he had set up and failed. He just kept on acting on new ideas that became improvements on his failures. Now, nairaland.com is the single most viewed website in Nigeria with the highest hits! Only surpassed by Facebook.
According to Paul Graham, of Y-Combinator; “The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself.” Consider your daily routines, what problem(s) or challenge(s) do you encounter? How effective are they being solved presently? How is the service delivery? Do you think you can actually do it better? These are some of the questions the entrepreneur minded individual asks, that’s the first way of separating the men of thoughts from the boys! Think smart!
Get Away From The Crowd
Ideas come silently to individual minds, not to the crowd. You need to take a break from the routines of life and find a secluded place where you can listen to your thoughts and stimulate an idea. Scientists have discovered that ideas generate best when your brain is at a lower, more relaxed, state called the alpha state, much unlike the beta waves we produced when engaged in our daily chores, of which the end product is stress. Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School, discovered that people who access this alpha state tend to demonstrate superior performance on both physical and mental tests. Let you mind wander into that relaxed state and exploit its creativity.
Start small but think Big. Is your idea scalable? What are the growth prospects? Have a target, which may be quite narrow to start, but be able to enlarge your scope as your idea develops.
Do Your Homework
It is not enough to have the amazingly brilliant idea no one has ever thought of, you have to get off the high horse and do some digging! Research more about your area of interest(s), get to know things are done, where to go and who to meet. There’s always a little knowledge on the street that could sharpen your enterprise.
Today there are several startups directory sites where people list their startups with the goal to get exposure for their brands and for link building, an example is vconnect.com. You can also ask questions on forums like Nairaland, Reddit and Qoura on your area of interest and get positive responses from experienced hands. No man is an island!
Fill An Urgent Need
No matter how plausible your idea may be taking shape or materializing, if it is not to meet an urgent demand, then you should probably forget about the whole idea. You must solve an immediate need. You drive on the road and complain of traffic, heat, noise, long routes to work etc. These are challenges and they are goldmines for soft drink enterprenuers like Pepsi, Lacasera, Coke, Gala and the rest. Google map is cashing in on the need for a shorter route to your destinations. While, right there in the traffic in Lagos you can virtually buy anything handy! These are people who are thinking! People who see challenges as opportunities and are exploiting them.
A dream delayed is a dream forgotten. Get to work fast, put down your blue print, establish your mark in that industry, give your competitors a run for their money, be consistent at it, and make your impact be felt.. But first, start!
Even as the startup is taking its first steps, you need constant consultations. You don’t want to be the only one who understands what you do. You need to hear first from your family and friends, they may not be objective enough, but their words of encouragement surpasses that of any other group. Your workers are also to be listened to. Ask questions every now and then. Let them tell you how they think you are faring. The clients/customers are your surest bet at objectivity. They want value for their money and their feedbacks are usually immeasurable to sharpen the company. Customer care should always be a two way communication channel, let them tell you how you can serve them better.
Above all, get a mentor. Someone who has tasted defeat in business but is still standing strong in your line of business. A force to be reckoned with. Let them give you practical lessons of how it should be done. They obviously have gone past the crawling stage of entrepreneurship. Listen to them!
Ideas are free thoughts like the wind. It chooses to blow wherever it wants. It may come while in the shower, at dinner or even while strolling. As much as the prospective entrepreneur is expected to get the light bulb flickered on in his mind, it can also be a product of an intense and constructive brainstorming, but sustainability may be an issue, as no one can sufficiently interpret what you have in mind.
The beautiful thing about startup is, there is no rule against copy and paste! An innovative business may be the toast of the town but you can also do it that way too – differently. There are a number of bloggers who are currently copying the style of Linda Ikeji, a lot of Make up Artists toeing the lines of Tara Fela-Durotoye, and many e-commerce websites following the business plans of Kings and Jumia. So go on, get your business out on the streets!