You Have an Idea, Now What?
Chances are, you are picking up this book because either you had an idea and weren’t sure how to implement it, or you are intrigued by the idea of becoming your own boss and want to learn how to realize “the American dream.” In either case, you will need an idea to run with, to analyze, and then, potentially, to market.
If you already have an idea in mind, then you’re in a good position to begin analysis—determining the sources of your revenue streams, setting realistic start times, identifying your initial strategy, determining who to talk with and how to evaluate your goals and strategy, deciding who your target demographic will be, and figuring out how to analyze your startup costs. If you fall into this category, proceeding through the rest of this chapter will be easier for you.
If you don’t already have an idea, or you aren’t sure what you want your new business idea to be, now is the time to start brainstorming. I always recommend thinking about what gets you excited. What are you passionate about? What do you do now that you’d gladly do for free if you didn’t have to worry about finances (e.g., paying bills)? What do you enjoy doing with your time when you have a moment of it to spare? Analyzing your passions and brainstorming what they are is the first step in beginning to find your new business.
You can turn your passions into profits, but first you have to know what those passions are. This goes for those of you who already have your business idea, as well. Make certain it is something you are passionate for and about, and if it isn’t, then perhaps you should reconsider a new idea.
To facilitate this search, I recommend taking some time for yourself—to really connect with what brings you joy in life. Try sitting, alone, and think about what makes you happy. Try going for a walk in the park or along the beach—what do you want out of life and what makes life enjoyable? Whatever helps you think clearly and undistracted, do this, and jot down everything that comes to mind.
Now at this point, use a branch-out method that will help you see how you could potentially turn your idea into something profitable. I’ll walk you through a scenario. Say you enjoy shopping—immensely. When you have an hour of free time it is best spent at the mall finding bargains. Now what if you routinely know how to shop to get designer goods for 90 percent off? What if you created a discount boutique and resold these items at half off? Perhaps you even had an eBay store to accompany the brick and mortar or on ground store? The potential for large profits here is astounding, albeit with a relatively easy startup. This is a small example of the way to begin turning the things you love to do into ways to make money.
One way to try to conceptualize your business is to draw a picture of your work, and to “branch out” your next steps from there. To create this map, place shopping at the center of the bubble. Draw lines from the bubble, and write words or short phrases that come to mind when you think of shopping—perhaps eBay, “hard to find items,” “antiques,” and so on. Use this as the basis for your brainstorming. Often this is the most effective and fastest way to brainstorm and still be able to maintain a sense of your original ideas. Also, in the process you may find other ideas you hadn’t thought of—perhaps even another new business!
The following is a pictorial reference of what I am referring to, although it is a very simplified version.
Source: Babb Danielle (2009), The Accidental Startup: How to Realize Your True Potential by Becoming Your Own Boss. Alpha.