Small Business Ideas – Finding and Developing Ideas For Your Small Business

Business ideas seem to be a dime a dozen. Being somewhat of an entrepreneurial enthusiast, I read and consume much regarding business ideas, developing markets, and innovative solutions to common problems. The question is: How far should we go before we decide an idea is not worth a second look?

As I started posting ideas on my site’s forum, I realized that a lot of my own ideas were receiving flak for being a little “out there.” Admittedly, I did post the “Shower Tower” idea because I was more interested in starting discussion and debate to generate readership and loyalty for the site, not because I intended to develop a feasibility study on its relevance and viability. However, the question came to mind-to what extent should we discuss ideas before we either:

  • throw them out as impossible, unrealistic, unfeasible, etc.
  • take them to the next step and begin researching a feasibility study/business plan
  • assume all systems go and begin developing the business model immediately (most likely reserved for time-sensitive start-ups involving tech industries)

As a strong believer in the “less is more” mentality, I apply a quick set of criteria to each new idea thrown my way that helps me decide which route to take, so I don’t waste my own/my clients’/my colleague’s time (each response should be in sentence form, but the more concise, the better. One- to two-sentence responses are best):

  • What is the business model (how will you profit from the idea)?
  • What is the target market (who will buy your idea)?
  • What is the estimated cost and time-to-market?
  • Is it scalable?

These key questions are of course not all-inclusive, but they help me quickly and relatively accurately assess the elements that would need to researched more fully if I were to run a feasibility plan on the idea. As an example, here’s my question and answer sheet from the Shower Tower idea:

  • What is the business model? People will pay a premium price for a secluded, luxurious, relaxing bath/shower/nap experience in the middle of their working day.
  • What is the target market? Executives and business professionals between the ages of 35-50 who live in large, metropolitan areas and work 9-5 jobs.
  • What is the estimated cost and time-to-market? At least 1.5M for start-up and first-year costs; at least 6 months- to 1-year for start-up time.
  • Is it scalable? Sure, a franchise or co-ownership deal would help expand the business to other cities and regions quite easily.

So, given the above answers, I have prepared a tiny little feasibility study to see if the idea would be worth my time to look into. I’m not interested in jumping in to this idea just yet and I don’t think the idea is time-sensitive (showers and personal relaxation and hygiene won’t ever go out of style!), so I’ll keep the idea in mind as I develop other mini-studies and business ideas.

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