Coming up with ideas is fairly easy. There’s a notion that nothing is ever original and, for the most part, it’s actually accurate when you consider what creativity stems from: inspiration. Of course, there’s a huge difference between being creative and outright stealing, but the line can be blurred depending on what you do with your inspiration.
Startups are like creative arts. There are startups that are built because of a demand for something, but there are also startups that come from a background of remixing ideas that are already successful. An artist gains inspiration and creativity from studying what has come before them. They’ll steal ideas, they’ll change things and they will create completely new works of art from past creations. Startups should follow the same logical path. You should always look at what businesses have done in the past and you need to find ways to improve on what has already been done.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the logical progression that you should be taking when attempting to start a company. We’ll be talking about where ideas come from, how you can fill your mind with them, and what it takes to truly have a successful idea to build on.
Define the Need
All businesses meet some kind of demand. A restaurant meets a demand for food, an internet service provider meets the need for the internet and an art studio meets the demand for art. This is an incredibly simple way of generalizing what needs you are attempting to meet, but it’s important to start from this logical base.
Decide what need you are going to be meeting and then refine so it becomes more detailed. For example, do you plan to meet a need for food in your local area? Take it down another layer and decide what type of food you want to provide. There are lack of high-end restaurants, or perhaps there are too many and you want to introduce budget options. Next, you need to decide on what kind of cuisine you want to serve. Mexican food? Chinese food? Burgers?
As you can see, it’s important to first define a basic need and then build on it with additional layers. The more layers you add, the more specialised your business becomes. If you go into too much detail then you’ll find that your business will be too specialised and, as a result, won’t see much business. It’s important to balance between diversifying your customer base and specialising in what you are an expert in. It takes careful planning to reach a balanced state, but either way, it’s important to start from a simple idea then gradually build on it.
Creative Business Ideas
However, what if you want to get creative with your business idea? Meeting needs is fine and all and it’s a great way to start a company, but there are times when it’s worth playing around with unique ideas in order to make something a little more interesting. For example, if we use the restaurant idea, we could attempt to create a unique type of fusion cuisine that defies customer expectations. In order to truly create something unique, we need to learn what limitations we have.
Moving away from the food for a moment, it’s important to understand what limitations you have and how you can either break them or work around them. It’s easy for someone to say “I want to build a type of transport that can get you from New York to London in an hour” but there are countless problems with the idea. First, the technology simply doesn’t exist for such a massive change in what we currently have. Currently, the flight from New York to London is around 7 hours. There are plans for a 3-hour supersonic flight that can reduce it by another 4 hours, but to propose reducing the journey to just a single hour and create a business around it is just foolish.
This is an extreme example, but the idea is to illustrate what it means to work within limitations while still providing for a need. Another limitation that needs to be considered is copyright. You can’t just take ideas from other people especially if they have been copyrighted, and some ideas are even protected by intellectual property laws. Take a look at an IP marketplace to see what kind of ideas you can purchase from others to start a business. If you don’t find them in the marketplace and they’re free to use, then you can make a business out of it.
In short, you have to think about how you can reach your goals to create something unique and different without straying too far from what is physically possible. Remember that you are limited by copyright laws and technology. As long as you understand the constraints, you’ll be able to come up with unique ideas.
The next step is to test your ideas. Creating small samples and marketing them is a fantastic way to get some early attention. If you want to knock out two birds with one stone, then setting up a crowdfunding marketing campaign is another great way to bring attention to your startup. You’ll be able to grab funding as well as interest a wide audience in your ideas.
Another good way of testing your ideas is to simply ask friends and family. This is a great way to gauge how you provide your products or services, and it will give you some basic feedback on how you can improve. You could scale up this project by attending trade shows and gathering information, discussing ideas on internet social media platforms or even speaking to investors.
The idea is to get your idea out there as quickly as possible. If you’re worried about someone stealing your idea, then it might be worth protecting your intellectual property first or testing it with people who are close to you. Either way, it’s important to put your ideas to use and create early concepts.