Choosing Your Life’s Business: How to Find an Idea That Will Work

This article was originally posted on our Content Marketing Manager’s blog.

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Thinking about starting your own business? Dreaming of launching a brand-new product or service? A good idea is half the success of your future project. But how to separate the wheat from the chaff and find a brilliant idea you will enjoy working on?

Below you will find a step-by-step guide on how to find an idea for your startup business or a new product.

Push the Limits

Start with considering Blue Ocean Strategy. Blue Ocean Strategy is a marketing theory published in the book of the same name by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. The strategy refers to a concept that a market, crowded with competitors fighting for dominance and tearing each other to pieces, looks like a blood red ocean.

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As opposed to blue oceans — uncontested market spaces where there is no competition, since the rules have yet to be established.

Instead of competing within a particular industry in a red ocean, concentrate your efforts on a blue ocean where you could create a unique product or service and achieve success.

One popular example of Blue Ocean Strategy, mentioned in the book, is Cirque du Soleil, which completely reinvented circus. The company chose a different target audience, not typical of the traditional circus, by switching from children to wealthy adults and thus occupying a niche with no competition.

So, to discover a blue ocean, you do not have to open a new industry; instead, you may create a blue ocean within a red one by shifting the boundaries.

If you have embraced Blue Ocean Strategy, it is time you moved on to the next step and decided on an industry and strategy for your business.

Use Startup Idea Matrix

If nothing comes to your mind, or on the contrary — you have several ideas but still not sure what to choose, Startup Idea Matrix will come to the rescue.

Eric Stromberg, co-founder & CEO of the Oyster book service, acquired by Google, shared a matrix, which can help you select an industry in which you would like to start a business.

The matrix describes consumer markets, as well as strategies that you can apply to launch a unique product for a particular market. Some cells contain examples of already existing startups that are relevant to the industry and strategy.

For example, online publishing platform Medium gained popularity across the world among both professional journalists and regular users. Evan Williams, founder of the service, developed Medium as a way to publish articles on a blogging website with a simple design and minimal set of functions. Thus, he provided a targeted product and perfectly met the needs of those who just want to share their thoughts or say something important to the world. The simpler is often the better, and you could also occupy a niche in the sphere you are interested in by creating a simple and well-targeted product.

One more example — an application for taxi order, named Uber, which literally turned over the market of passenger transportation via automobiles. In the Startup Idea Matrix Uber refers to the strategy “make it on demand” — the founders of the company came up with the idea to create an application that would allow people to order a car in the right place, at the right time. In addition, Uber can refer to another strategy, also introduced in the matrix, — “build it as mobile-native”. In fact, in addition to providing services on demand, the application allows you to make an order directly, without the need to involve intermediaries (call center operators) and pay automatically by connecting your credit card to the application.

When choosing an idea, focus on the sphere you would like operate within — or consider a few of the most interesting industries. Then outline, what problems your future development should solve, consider all the ideas for implementation presented in the matrix, and select two or three. If there are already competitors with a strong product in some of the categories you have selected, then probably it is worth choosing from those that are not occupied. Another option: consider creating a blue ocean. You can get inspiration from the example of Samsung. The Korean company managed to become successful and productive manufacturer of microwave ovens and beat the competitors from Japan and the USA, which were selling over 4 million microwave ovens a year, while Samsung did not even have a prototype.

Eric Stromberg also created a matrix you should get to know if you are going to start a B2B business or create a new product / service for companies. B2B-matrix, for example, features well-known for developers and project managers all over the world Atlassian company — the developer of software which significantly simplifies, systematizes and optimizes software development processes. A feature of the company’s strategy, noted by Stromberg, is a bundled offering. The flagship products of Atlassian: Jira and Confluence are offered in combination with each other and with other company products.

Check Your Idea at the Initial Stage

So, it seems you have made your choice. However, starting work on a new product, basing solely on your ideas about market needs, can lead to a failure. It is always better to first get feedback on the idea from potential customers, analyze their attitude and reaction, as well as willingness to purchase the product. How can you do it?

Well, there are special resources for testing both an idea and a product at the initial stage. These services allow to get advice from entrepreneurs, feedback from potential customers and an insight into how the majority feel about the idea.

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For example, service Proved allows you to describe your idea, the existing problem and how it can be solved with the help of the product or service you are going to create. What is more, you can also choose the target audience, starting from location and ending with age, occupation and belonging to a social group. All the rest will be done by respondents — their number and volume of analytical data provided depends on the chosen tariff plan.

You may also try time-tested methods: for instance, the Disney method. The strategy was highlighted in 1994 by Robert Dilts. So, Walt Disney checked ideas through their evaluation from three different positions: the dreamer, the realist, and the critic. The dreamer has a wide variety of ideas, while there are no barriers and no criticism. Then the realist comes into play. The realist re-works the ideas of the dreamer into something more practical and feasible. The main questions at this stage are about how the idea can be implemented, which tasks are required, which of the existing products are similar to your idea. The critic examines ideas and looks for flaws. This stage is all about finding out if ideas are viable and whether are worth their implementation.

To choose between several ideas, you can use anonymous voting through various online services. Participants select some ideas from the list of ideas provided and rank them according to their significance. Another option — participants just select one or several ideas they like the most.

Final Check — Get a Feedback on Your Minimum Viable Product

Measure twice before you cut once. You have decided on an idea for your business, started working on it and received the first results — a minimum viable product. Now it is time to make a final check.

After creating a minimum viable product, make sure your potential customers can see it and evaluate it. For this, you can use a variety of platforms. Members of beta tester community Betabound will test your product for free. Global crowdfunding platform for creative projects Kickstarter will show how many people would like to buy your product. Getting featured on Betalist, popular source of information about startups, will show how attractive your product is. Product Hunt, platform rife with new products, with the right approach, will draw attention to your project and become the perfect starting point.

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In fact, this stage is a kind of testing your product for viability, which will show whether any changes are needed, or the product in its current form solves the original problem. In addition, this stage is about testing the market: with minimal resources, you will be able to understand how the market responds to your product and its individual components, as well as to get your future clients’ profile.

Our team will be happy to bring your idea to life.