I participated in a business forum last week for veterans who have separated from the service and are looking to start businesses. One question that came up is about the origin of business ideas. Where do business ideas come from? Why do businesses fail? What are the best businesses to start?
There were a number of folks like me in the room who tried to provide some answers and perspective. I think where we all came out was that the best business ideas are those which solve a problem worth solving. How does one know if it’s worth solving? Well, if it’s a problem that only you have, it probably isn’t. If a lot of people have this problem you then might have a market. If it’s a problem that keeps needing solving, then you have a really good market. If people care less about the cost of solving the problem than they do in just getting it solved, you have an excellent market. And if you’re the only one with a solution that solves the problem in a way where the cost to do so is outweighed by the value you’re providing, you just might have a great business idea.
It was interesting to hear the responses as we went around the room and heard about the businesses these veterans either had started or were contemplating. Many fell nicely into the paradigm, above. In some cases, they needed help expressing their idea succinctly and clearly and in a way that demonstrated they understood the problem they’re solving and the market presented. A couple stood out as being fantastic ideas while a couple of others clearly needed more refinement and thought.
I’d encourage you to try that exercise. What problem are you solving? Is it a problem shared by enough people to make it worth solving? Who else is solving it? Why is your solution better? With those answers, you’re well down the road both to a solid business plan and to finding people who will invest in making that plan a reality. You in?