How to Find a Profitable Idea for a Lean Online Business

Mar 1 · 4 min read

Dream of starting your own profitable business? We caught up with Adrien Harrison, a Shapr Connectors Club member who makes a living as a digital nomad entrepreneur, and asked his tips for budding entrepreneurs on Shapr!

First off, let’s start by defining what an “online business” is. You’ve probably heard the term “online business” used in a few different ways. You may have encountered eCommerce, consulting, or online course businesses.

  • eCommerce businesses sell physical products on their website and ship them to customers. eCommerce businesses trade products for money.
  • Consulting businesses can offer an array of services for which clients pay for an expert’s opinion on solving a certain problem and sometimes to implement their advice in a customized way. Consulting businesses usually trade time or value for money.
  • Online course businesses offer online courses and maybe other digital products like an eBook. The best will also offer live coaching and workshops for their students.

An online business can be any combination of the above and more. In this brief post, Adrien will break down how to generate a profitable idea that plays to your strengths and interests.

1. Skills, Strengths, & Interests Audit

This first step in designing a business idea is to audit your strengths, skills, and interests:

  • Skills: what you know
  • Strengths: what you’re good at
  • Interests: what you’re interested in doing

Let’s start with the first two categories.

1. Your Skills

Skills are generally concrete knowledge about how to do something or things you’ve learned how to do well. The business world calls these “hard skills,” but these can also be skills you’ve acquired through overcoming a difficult challenge.

Think about what jobs you have/had and what you learned. Can you share any insight or knowledge from your work life that will help people who haven’t had that experience? Or, help people get a job like yours? Or is there a challenge you have overcome that many people may need help working through?

2. Your Strengths

Strengths are generally things you’re naturally good at or that come easily to you, but can also be what the business world calls “soft skills.”

Ask yourself:

1. “What do my friends say I’m really good at?” (e.g. great listener, funniest person they know, die-hard motivator, travel-hacker, etc.)

2. “What comes easily to me?” or “What do other people struggle with?” (e.g. I don’t mind confrontation, I love reading for hours on end, I can meet and get along with anyone in a room, etc.)

Take a minute to list out your skills AND your strengths. Here’s an example from Adrien:

3. Your Interests

Ask yourself: “Of these skills and strengths, which would I like to explore more if I had an extra 3 hours of free time per week?” (e.g. code a new program, go rock climbing, make a dinner party, build something with my hands, find cheap flights around the world, etc.)

Underline the Skills & Strengths that you’re most interested in (and the things you would like to learn more about!)

4. Your Business Ideas

Combine all of the underlined skills and strengths to come up with a few potential business ideas.

For example:

Skill: How to lose weight effectively + Strength: Die-hard motivator = Fitness & Nutrition Coach


Skills: writing sales emails + web design + Strength: travel-hacker = Online Business Coach 😉

This activity should get your gears moving about where you’d like to focus your time. Once you have an idea that excites you, spend time grabbing coffee with other people doing similar work to hear what has worked for them and hasn’t! You can meet lots of people via networking platform Shapr, or connect with Adrien to get his help on creating a full business plan! Good luck!

About the author: Adrien Harrison is the Founder & CEO of Echo Studio, a company that provides strategic growth consulting for small businesses, freelancers and startups. Harrison has been featured in Forbes for helping other businesses achieve what he has done for himself by validating ideas, building websites, launching digital marketing campaigns and growing online businesses that allow his clients to travel the globe.


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