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Business Opportunities And Ideas

10 Tactics For Finding New Business Ideas

on September 20th, 2007

lightbulbI’m often asked how I come up with so many new business ideas so here are some tips for coming up with your very own business ideas.

1. Expect to have ideas . If you believe you’re incapable of coming up with ideas then you won’t come up with any. Put aside any negativity about yourself or your creativity and expect to have ideas.

2. Keep and open mind. Ideas can come from anywhere and some of the best ideas will seem daft or impossible based on your current knowledge, experience and assumptions. Try to be prepared to explore new ideas and to change your view of the world.

3. Keep a written record of your ideas, ideas that inspire you or ideas that are new to you – When you write things down you are more likely to remember them and if you don’t you’ve got a record to refer back to. I keep a record of all the ideas I see, read/hear about or have and I review it regularly. My written record has also evolved into this blog full of ideas.

4. Try to learn something new every day. Talk to other business people, talk to your friends and neighbours, talk to anyone that looks interesting and will talk to you. Read websites, magazines, books whatever medium you prefer try to read something that will expand your knowledge everyday. I enjoy business/entrepreneurs biographies and histories especially those that explain where the business or idea for it came from.

5. Talk about your ideas. Talk about your ideas to anyone who will listen, more often that not it’s my wife who has to listen to my ideas, if she’s not around however I’ll talk to myself! Failing that write down what you’d say to someone to explain the idea. The point is that in explaining the idea you’ll usually spot flaws or areas for improvement thus making the idea better.

6. Ask questions and listen to peoples problems, hopes, dreams and aspirations. I always ask people what problems, issues or challenges they face in their business (or job), there are often good business opportunities in solving those problems. Peoples hopes, dreams and aspirations can provide ideas for example a business like Red Letter Days helps people fulfil their dreams by providing experiences such as driving a supercar or flying a plane. Weight Watchers appeals to those hoping to loose weight.

7. Research see what else is out there that is similar. Evaluate potential competition and keep notes on what you find. Use the search engines to look for similar ideas, businesses or products and take notes on them.

8. Draw a mind map. A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.

9. Synthesise ideas. Put two or more unrelated ideas together. One way to do this is to brainstorm with your team. You’ll get the best results if you’ve followed steps 1 – 6 first as you’ll have a larger pool of ideas to combine.

10. Sleep on it. Go away for a while and think of something else, often your subconscious mind will continue to work on the problem and will come up with new ideas or refinements on the ideas you already have.

Hat tip to Luke Houghton for the inspiring this post.

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  • 1

    [...] John talks about 10 tactics in finding new ideas Check to see if you are missing any! [...]

  • 2


    Thanks for the hat tip much appreciated!

    Luke Houghton.

    Luke on September 23rd, 2007
  • 3


    Thanks for the inspiration, I enjoy reading your blog.

    John on September 24th, 2007
  • 4

    [...] The oft used quote about repetition goes something like this: ‘the definition of madness is doing something over and over again to get a different result’. When repetition emerges out of you it’s because you are finding the same answers to the same problem over and over again. That is, you have not given up your favourite solution yet because you are still applying it to different problems. This sounds counterintuitive but think about it. We often have solutions in mind (i.e. the garbage can model of decision making) looking for problems or decision making opportunities to air those solutions. Repetition often occurs because we think our solutions are sound. If this is you write down the solution you automatically think of in each context. I think you will find over time that you are indeed apply the same old ideas unconsciously. To change this you need to perhaps talk to other people or read this or this to help you out. [...]

  • 5

    Thanks for some interesting and helpfull tips.

    I would however like to make a small variation to number 5. There are some very negative people around and no matter how good the idea is, they will try to put you off trying it. Try to avoid these people, look instead for people that will offer constructive comments and encouragement. I assume from your blog that your wife falls into the latter group.


    Mick on November 26th, 2007
  • 6


    I disagree! Talk to everyone, especially those people that will try to put you off. They may not have your best interests at heart but by trying to persuade them you will be forced to examine your beliefs about the idea and will either realise it’s a non started or more further refine it.

    My wife actually tend to keep asking me, who, how, when, where, why, what, what if forcing me to clarify my thinking and refine the idea which is ideal.

    John on November 26th, 2007
  • 7

    Good tips. Maybe you should also write about how to decide which idea to run 1st and which to decide to full swing..


    Azlan on November 27th, 2007
  • 8

    Questions like who, how, when etc are what I would define as constructive comments, which is exactly the kind of input you need to make you improve your idea.
    If you can answer all their questions with well thought out answers, you’ll probably find they would encourage you to try it.

    What I’m suggesting, is that you should avoid telling those people that have been working for the post office or in a factory for the last 30 years, like their father before them. Not that there is anything wrong with that, if that’s what they want from life. It’s not for people like us mentality is very damaging, removing the number 1 on you list.

    Mick on November 27th, 2007
  • 9

    Mick I still disagree and would talk to them for the reasons I’ve explained above.

    John on November 27th, 2007
  • 10

    Hi have to side a bit with Mick actually.

    People CAN influence you negatively, and I think that’s what he’s trying to say. Maybe you should talk to them, but not ONLY them (try to keep it balanced?).

    It would be foolish not to go with an idea just because someone told you not to do it, just as it would be foolish to go with it only because someone encouraged you.

    Svaj Malizo on March 10th, 2008
  • 11

    Great debate guys and I can see the sense in both arguments.
    I think I would be disinclined to discuss ideas with just anybody as they might not know where you are coming from or where you want to go with the idea but I can see that by trying to sell it to them I might sell it to myself or see the reasons it might not work.

    David on April 7th, 2008
  • 12

    Quite a list of interesting ideas. Thanks for sharing them and giving me something to think about too since I’m always thinking of new ideas.

    Peter Lee

    Peter Lee on June 8th, 2008
  • 13


    I wish I had remembered about your blog when I had a call I didn’t know how to handle this afternoon.

    “I want a business that will make me lots of money. What can you recommend?”

    Paul Simister on August 27th, 2008
  • 14

    Great tips and I totally subscribe to opening your mind to ideas. Negativity is the downfall it should be banned!

    karen on August 26th, 2009
  • 15

    i find getting an A3 sheet of paper and just going crazy with whacky ideas! and one of them will jump out to you!

    Nick dutton on January 11th, 2010
  • 16

    I am trying to think of new ideas. Just refering to duncun banetynes book from dragon’s den says keep a look out for overcrowded shops, freinds complaning about services, products you have brought that seem expensive and services you think that you can improve.

    harry on November 10th, 2010
  • 17

    I have just come across your blog. Very good. I suppose I already know the answer but I will ask anyway. I bombard my wife with my many business ideas. She says that if I were paid for my ideas I would be a millionaire. My problem is, the amount of ideas I come up with that have real potentail. I will also add that some of my ideas would not have worked. I am a little fed up with not, for whatever the reason, try them. Sometimes the investment is just to great. Sometimes I need a partner. Is their anything I could do in terms of business, with coming up with the ideas?

    Ricky on January 13th, 2011


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