Innovative business ideas give any business a competitive advantage. When starting a business or managing an existing business, it is very important to embrace innovation. This is because innovation plays a key role in business success. Today, we will be discussing how to get innovative business ideas, and the major focus will be on startup. So are you thinking of starting a new business, but not sure of what type of business to launch? You are welcome to board this train.
A man opened a zoo in a new area. The entrance ticket was $25, but on the day of the grand opening, the people who purchased the ticket were less than 10. He was so disappointed. However, he decided to reduce the ticket fee to $5 so that many people can turn up. Still, only a few people showed up. So he finally decided to make the entrance ticket free for everyone, and people turned up in their masses. He had hundreds of people in attendance, and he was so happy. However, having hundreds of people there didn’t convert to revenue for him since they were there for free. So, he thought of ways to generate revenue and make a profit from them, and an idea came to his mind. He shut the zoo gate, released the lions, and told the people to pay $50 to get out. Haha.
What is innovation in business?
Innovation is all about thinking of ways to change the existing procedure or process. From the story above, the zoo norm is to charge ‘entrance fee’ however, when the man saw that it’s not working for him, he changed the norm and charged ‘exit fee’ instead. Of course, there is no such thing as exit fee so that makes the zoo innovative because he changed the norm. I know I just told you a joke. Yeah, the zoo owner story is just a joke I heard, however, the message I conveyed with it is real. For your business to be successful, you have to constantly think outside the box. Innovation is all about challenging the norm, making changes, and upgrading the status quo.
Many people always confuse innovation and invention, and that’s why they struggle to come up with an innovative business idea & plan. They falsely believe that an innovative business idea means having an original ‘never existed’ service or product. Yo, stop wasting your time. Countless businesses are already in existence, and most likely you won’t be the first to come up with that idea you are thinking. Are you looking to start a business? Just focus on ways to improve an existing service or product, and you will become a successful entrepreneur.
There is a clear difference between innovation and invention. Innovation is all about improvement and advancement while invention is all about creating something entirely new. Innovation is the development of ideas focused on improving the way things are done. When trying to improve the way things are done or improve what can be achieved (value), the end result may lead to new services, or products or management. Therefore, innovation creates uniqueness and makes your business stand out from others because you are going the extra mile and doing the extra work to improve the existing service or product. In a plain word, innovation is an improved idea while invention is a new idea.
You don’t have to wait to invent something in your business because, in this age, invention is quite difficult to make happen. This is because there is nothing new in the world again. What we have and see is an improvement of what already exists. Haven’t it happened to you that you sit at the corner of your bedroom and a new idea came to your mind? Of course, you thought it is a new idea because you thought of it from scratch. You log in to your computer and try to search for more information regarding your new idea, only to find out that what you think is a new idea already exist. This has happened to me several times. If you really think of it, you will realize that there is nothing new in this world anymore, what we have is upgrades (innovation).
Source of innovative ideas
Just as we have sources of water, innovative idea also has its source. Innovative ideas come from somewhere, and we will briefly discuss where innovative ideas can come from.
- Unexpected occurrences: This is the easy, well-known source of innovation. We all strive on uncertainty as nobody knows what tomorrow holds however, we try our best to set up a routine, monitor a process and understand occurrences. So, when an unexpected occurrence happens, we are drawn to tackle it, and in tackling it, we create a big room for innovation opportunity.
- Change in perception and behaviour: This is also quite a common source of innovation. We have over 7 billions of people on earth, and everyone has a personality and perception of things. As people start questioning things, or processes or method, their perception changes, and this creates an avenue for innovation.
- New Knowledge: Humans are learning every day. We have outgrown the primitive nature of man, as we are currently in the 21st century. However, we are yet to exploit the full potential of our brain capacity. This means that as new knowledge is gained, innovation is created.
- Demographic changes: This affects the availability and usage of resources hence there is a need for optimization and utilization. In a bid to optimize, innovation is born.
- Incongruities: It is a known fact that life is not fair, and it’s full of surprises. So many things are out of place and will continue to be out of place. Therefore, this means that there will always be a continuous opportunity for innovation as we strive to find balance in life.
- Process Needs: There is a constant need for change in process as people will always value a faster, reliable, and easy process to achieve an end goal. For example, communication has always existed, but today we have changed the process of communication and made it faster and accessible, as I can now communicate with anyone in the world from my bedroom. The urge for change in process gives room for innovation.
- Market changes: As we become more knowledgeable and exposed; our human needs changes, and this directly affects the market. People are looking for products or services to make their lives easier. The desire or cravings for new or improved products or services creates a room for innovation.
How to get innovative business ideas
I’m thinking you really want to start a business, but your main problem is that you don’t know what business you should start. I know you are trying so hard to come up with business ideas, but you just can’t come up with a satisfying business idea. Perhaps, you are wondering how other entrepreneurs or startups get innovative business ideas for their business. Don’t worry too much; you are about to learn the secret of developing innovative business ideas. So, let’s do something about this issue of yours. I will give you 7 tips to help you know what business to start with. With these 7 quick tips, you will learn how to develop an innovative business idea.
1. Ask yourself what you are good at
This is a good place to start. Remember, you can’t give what you don’t have. So, what are you good at? Think of what people always compliment you for. Are you good at web designing or painting or tailoring etc? You should consider starting a business within the area of your strength/ expertise. That’s the wise thing to do because it will help build your confidence towards your business. And when you believe in your business, success will become inevitable.
2. Ask yourself what problem you want to solve
The world is not perfect and can never be perfect, so what part of the world’s imperfection are you ready to work on? The good way to do this is to first know the challenges people or the world is facing. You might want to research this and then think of how you can use what you are good at to solve what challenges you discovered. Think of what to do to make life easier for people. The whole idea of innovation is to make sure that whatever your business offers is of value.
3. Think of what you want to change
What is that one thing you wish that you can change? Is that thing changeable? If yes, then you should base your business on changing things that need to be changed. What is that thing that bugs you? That thing you know damn well that you cannot stand? It’s time to do something about what bugs you and make a change. Doing so will help to build your self-confident, empower you to manage your business and transform lives.
4. Find an opening
Be an opportunity seeker. Decide on an area of business you want to work on. Focus on that niche and seek for the category that lacks recent innovations. Think of what you can do to upgrade the existing one (this is your clue to starting an innovative business). And if you can’t find a category lacking recent innovations, you can do something to blend the good old days with the latest innovation. Trust me, it will come out to be something unique and will pique the interest of many.
5. Talk to shoppers/ potential customer
You need to get into the mind of people. You don’t have to be a mind reader to make this happen. Ask for help by telling people to tell you their mind and what they think they need to improve their experiences. Whatever business you have in mind, think of who could be your potential customer and go out to talk to them. You don’t necessarily have to talk face-to-face or one-on-one with them. You could also conduct an online survey and even give them a chance to enter a draw and win a gift (this will motivate them to take the survey). More so, you can listen or observe what people are complaining or ranting about. You will get your clue there.
6. Ask for your family and friends opinion
Talk to your family and friends and ask them what business they think you can venture into. These people are close to you and know you well enough to know what kind of business can or will suit your personality. You can also share your options with them and ask them to pick top 3 they think to resonate more with you. Please, you shouldn’t take their opinion as a fact. You are to make your final decision because it is your life and it’s your business.
If you are convinced about an idea and they can’t see value in that idea, then you should stick to your idea because you are the owner of the vision (after all they can’t see what you see). And if whatever they say tally with your idea, you could take it as the confirmation you need to work on that idea. Just remember you are supposed to make the final decision yourself and always put your opinion first.
7. Pay attention to trends
If you are waiting to come up with an entirely original idea for your business, you might just be wasting your time because nothing is new under the earth. What will do is to modify and upgrade on existing things. As a matter of fact, modification is the whole essence of innovation. So, start paying attention to current popular trends in your community or society at large and build on what is out there, by creating an improved product or service.
You know what? If you think that having an entirely original idea is your chance to be successful in business, trust me, in no time copy cats will arrive, imitate your service or product. And if you didn’t quickly step up your game, they will leave you struggling to be relevant in the market. It is good if you have an original idea, but that’s not the most important thing. Most successful businesses don’t have original ideas, they have improved ideas. Paying attention to trends present a greater market opportunity for you, which then determine the success of your business.
How do I know which business ideas are best for me?
It is absolutely normal to be bothered with the thought of whether or not the business idea you came up with is actually the best for you. You don’t have to give yourself sleepless nights thinking if you will succeed with that business idea or not. I will give you 7 tips to help you evaluate your business idea and see if it the best one for you.
1. Your personality
Yeah, we have to start with your personality because it defines who you are. This is a great way for you to know what type of business is the best for you. Whatever business idea you have, the first thing is to match it with your personality and see if it suits your personality. For example, let’s say you are considering starting an information research business or advertising sales business. You should consider which of the two business ideas best matches your personality.
If you are an extrovert, launching an information research business is not a good move for you especially if you are starting as a one-man business. Searching and researching information is theoretical and abstract, and it will soon drain out your energy as an extrovert because you are more interested in people than ideas. You as an extrovert is more focused on practical than abstract, so starting an information research business is most likely a wrong move for you. Based on your personality, you should choose the advertising sales business idea because it is in line with your personality traits. If you want to run a successful business, you should always put your personality into consideration.
2. What pique your interest/curiosity
Most successful businesses today are born out of curiosity. Write down all the business ideas you can come up with and then look through to see which of the business idea pique your interest. Which one are you so curious about? Don’t start thinking of if you can do it or not because success comes when you challenge yourself. If you think that you lack the skills or ability to launch the business idea that piques your interest, then start working on acquiring the skills you need. But, don’t ever write off the business idea that piques your interest because that might just be your clue to becoming a globally successful entrepreneur. Instinct and intuition always have a way of leading us towards our destiny and purpose in life.
3. Your strength
You have to know your strength and use it to move your life forward. Focusing on your area of strength present a great opportunity to achieve success and excel in life. It is wise to consider business ideas that match your greatest strengths. Write down your strengths and then match it with the most appropriate business idea of yours. Working in the area of your weakness already means that you are setting yourself up for failures, so don’t do that. Make sure whatever business idea you want to launch should be within your strength zone so that you can lead a successful business.
4. Accessible and affordable
It is pointless to start a business idea that is not accessible and affordable for you. You don’t want to launch a business this month and close it down next month, do you? Therefore, you have to consider if your business idea is accessible and affordable for you. You have to determine if you are capable of pulling off that business idea. For example, it is foolishness to start a snowplowing business in a tropical region. Whatever business idea you want to launch, ask yourself if it is accessible.
You don’t want to start a business that people don’t need. It is like starting a frozen food business in a vegetarian community. Who do you think will be your customers? Maybe you will have ghosts as customers. It is very important to make sure that your business idea is needed within the region you want to launch it. Your ideal business idea should be accessible and affordable for you to pull off.
Working is hard enough, now imagine how hard it will be if you are doing what you don’t like. You should always match your passion with your business ideas and see the one that’s best for you. Though, if you are serious about running a successful business, passion shouldn’t be your first priority. Your top priority should be the market opportunity and then see how you can blend it with your passion. Running a successful business is not an easy task at all, and that’s why so many entrepreneurs have failed. You need something to constantly inspire you to work even when you don’t feel like it, and that’s where passion comes in.
Many people have the misconception that if you are passionate about something, you will find that thing easy to do. Hell no! The fact that you are passionate about something doesn’t mean that you will always enjoy doing that it. But it means that you will always find yourself doing that thing either consciously or unconsciously. It means that even though the task is tough and tedious, you will still maintain the desire to do it. And that’s why it is important to work on a business idea that is in line with your passion. I don’t enjoy writing, but I am passionate about writing because I get to communicate my ideas to the world. Writing is always a hard thing for me to do, but somehow I always find myself writing. And when I am done writing, I am always grateful for it.
6. Financial limitation
This one is so important because every business needs money to run it. You have to know your current financial limitation before deciding on which business idea to launch. Yes, you can raise funds for your business; however, you have to be realistic. Fundraising for startups is really difficult, so it is best to already have at least enough resources to run your business.
Before choosing your business idea, consider the cost of launching that business idea and how long it will take for you to start turning a profit. If the business idea requires more than you can give, then that’s not a good business idea for you. Your shoe size can’t be 37, and you went ahead to wear size 42 before the race begins. And you are expecting to compete in the race and even win the race competition. You know what? The moment you decided to wear size 42, your fate is already sealed by failure. Start a business within your financial abilities.
The purpose of starting a business is for financial independence and its relevance in the long run. Everyone wants to have a lasting and stable business. You don’t want to start a business that will fail in a few months from now. Therefore, it is very important that you consider the durability of your business idea. Ask yourself; will my business idea be relevant in years from now? Will it still apply to future needs and solve future problems? Think about how scalable your business idea is. Don’t start a short-lived fad business because it doesn’t worth the stress.
Yes, there are businesses for the occasion, which is OK as long as you start turning in profit within that short frame. I remember when I was in school, and there was an ongoing strike that stopped people from opening their shops on campus. We the final year students were mandated to be in school to submit our projects. There was no one to do printing and photocopy for us, and one of my classmates immediately bought a commercial printer and photocopier. We all went to her for printing, and she made herself a lot of profit. When the strike was called off, she sold the printer. You can see that was a short-lived business that arises from the immediate need.
What I am trying to say is that it is OK to start a business that addresses the immediate pressing need; however, in that case, you don’t have to think of a business idea because the current need already gave way to what needs to be done. But, if you are thinking of a business idea, then it means that it is not addressing an immediate pressing short-lived need, therefore, always make sure that business idea is durable enough before you decide to launch it. Starting a business takes time, effort, money and comes with challenges that worth it if only the business becomes successful and durable. Imagine if Facebook or Google was not focused on the long-run, what do you think will become of them now?
What is the current industry trend for your business idea? Is it growing consistently year after year? Is the market already saturated with competitors? What is the overall lifecycle for your business idea? These are things you want to consider before launching your idea. Make sure you pick the right business idea, therefore, don’t rush things. Take time to carefully consider your options before you launch your business idea.
Today, many opportunities are resulting in innovation. All you have to do is to open your eyes to see the opportunities around you, take it and use it to push your business to success. Having an innovative business idea is not rocket science; it is just a matter of developing on the current/ existing ways of doing things. The keywords for developing innovative ideas are accessibility, speed, compatibility, and simplicity. Whatever product or service that already exists, think of how you can make that product or service accessible for all, simpler to use, relatable to others and faster in yielding result. And there you have it, your ultimate innovative idea.