SCORE Small Business Blog

How to Come Up With a Great Business Startup Idea

Are you ready to start a business but you’re not sure what kind of business you want to start? While some people seem to be born knowing they want to start, say, a restaurant, plenty of others feel the itch to be entrepreneurs without having any particular passion for one type of business or another. When I meet people in this predicament, here’s what I suggest to get their creative juices flowing:

Ask yourself: What do I like to do? What am I good at? What skills do I have? Don’t just focus on your current job or even your past work history and experience. Go back over your entire life. What hobbies do you enjoy? What did you like to do as a kid? What do your friends and family say you’re good at? These don’t have to be business skills, per se—they could be something as simple as “being a good listener” or “helping me solve problems.”

Now flip it over and ask yourself what you hate doing and aren’t good at. Again, consider your entire history and don’t focus only on business skills. Maybe you hate sports, are terrible at math and not really a “people person.”

Next, think about why you want to start your own business. Do you want to be in charge, with no one telling you what to do? Do you have a great idea at your current job, but your boss won’t listen to you and it’s driving you crazy? Do you feel like you could do what you do now, but better—and get paid better for it? Do you want to give back to society with a business that changes the world?

Then, think about what your ideal life would look like. How many hours a day would you work? Where would you live? How would you spend your time? What goals would you have achieved? Dream big—if you want to craft a business that lets you work four hours a day, live in exotic foreign locales, or make millions, you can create one. (Realize, however, that you probably can’t achieve all of those goals in the same business—at least not right away.)

Now, consider what is missing in your life. Is there some product or service that would fill an unmet need? Ask your friends, family and co-workers the same question. Is there something at work, at home or in their free time that drives them crazy? What would solve it? Let your imagination run wild here. Dry-cleaning delivery services, companies that help seniors find and move into assisted living, and dog day-care companies are just a few of the business ideas that grew out of such unmet needs.

Jot down all of the answers and ideas that come to you as you ponder these questions. Read them over and you’ll probably start to get some inspiration. Maybe you love working with children, making things with your hands and having a lot of variety in your day-to-day life. You could start a business that visits different schools and provides art classes to the kids, or a mobile kids’ party service where you bring crafts items in and let the children “get crafty.”

Need more help coming up with the perfect business idea? The mentors at SCORE are there to listen. If you don’t have a mentor yet, head to the SCORE website to get matched with a mentor and get free business advice 24/7.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

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Discussion (6) Comment

  1. PaulaVisitor

    Great article good points to action. Would like to invite you to launch an entrepreurship programme in Caribbean that my organization is funding. How can I connect

  2. AGPSVisitor

    Great inspiration follow your dreams and what your good at.

  3. Excellent summary and one that I will share w/ the State of Wisconsin SCORE mentors. Congratulations on your SCORE award!

  4. OwenayukVisitor

    yeah andre, i agree with you.

  5. AndreVisitor

    This might confirm that you’re going in the right direction Ann Oliver


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