Where to find inspiration for your business idea and questions to ask before you start
Live the Dream – Dubai Start-Up Advice Series by Alpha Pro Partners
Given the choice, most people would prefer to be their boss. Whether it’s quitting the 9 to 5, doing something you’re truly passionate about, or throwing yourself at new and exciting challenges every day, the appeal of working for yourself, instead of someone else, is of massive appeal. According to Inc., 63% of those in their 20s want to start their own business. Despite this, start-up rates are relatively low. You might even see this for yourself in conversations you’ve had with your friends: Great ideas that never progress anywhere. It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s likely you have the desire to start a new venture but something is holding you back. It might be:
- The thought of failure;
- Money worries;
- Not knowing what to do;
- Or if it’s the right time.
These are perfectly normal things to consider when starting a business and anyone who says they didn’t consider those four points is lying to you and themselves. But if you can overcome these, you might find yourself on a rollercoaster ride never looking back.
When you look at some of the biggest businesses in the world today; Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram, they all started for different reasons. It probably wasn’t the case that the founder of eBay said “Today, I’m going to create a website as a new way to sell things I don’t want anymore.” It’s more likely they thought “I’ve got a lot of things I need to sell and don’t have time to arrange a garage sale.”Finding inspiration comes in lots of different ways. Here are five questions you can ask that might help unearth that big bang moment:
1. What do you enjoy doing?
It sounds simple, that’s because it is. What do you enjoy doing in life? Do you have a hobby or passion? How do you spend your free time? All of these are valid questions to start with and can help you find that initial idea that sparks a business into life.
2. What’s made you angry recently?
If something causes frustration it means that it didn’t work as it should or the way you wanted it to. This can be indicative of a problem to solve. It isn't always this simple but new products and services focus on improving something that already exists.
3. Have you learned from something?
Personal experience is a great way to identify opportunities. This might be something around the house, to do with shopping or when you’re on holiday. If you’ve thought something could improve your experience, this may be worth exploring.
4. What will tomorrow’s challenges be?
Sounds pretty deep but when you think about modern-day challenges, what will they look like in 10 years? Using this thought process might give you an insight into what type of business needs to start now to create something for tomorrow.
5. Have you tried something new?
Trying new things is a great way to discover opportunities. Seeing the world for the first time, with a completely objective view, can mean you see where a product or service could exist. It doesn’t have to be extreme, just something you haven’t done before. While there’s no guarantee these will give you a crystal clear answer, they are the first step in finding something that you could turn from an idea into a business. But before you jump straight in and launch the next “billion-dollar company”, you need to validate the idea and see whether or not the world is ready for it.
Questions Worth Asking
Many people will say they just “jumped right in and got on with it”. Maybe they did, but that doesn’t mean it was right to do so. Starting a business is a fine balance of planning and doing. The problem is that too many spend so much of their time focusing on “the plan” that they never get around to the “doing”.Before you dive right in, ask these questions to understand if starting a business is the right thing to do:
- Am I passionate enough to see this through? Even when things get tough?
- Will people pay for this product or service?
- How much do I need to charge to make it viable?
- How big is the market for this product or service?
- Can I test the idea and get feedback before committing?
- Am I open-minded enough to take advice, feedback, and criticism?
- What will I need to do to market this business?
- Am I being realistic with my expectations?
All of the answers you get from the questions above are the research that underpins the success or failure of a potential business. Does the research have to be excessive? No. But it does need to give you the confidence to make an informed decision before launching the business.
Overcoming Negative Thoughts
We aren’t saying starting your own business is easy, but the reasons listed at the beginning of the article for not starting a new venture are often more excuses than valid statements. Yes, businesses fail. Failure rates vary but recent reports suggest 30% close down within two years. The reasons aren’t straightforward. By spending some time planning and doing research, you can overcome this and be in the majority, not the minority. People often cite money worries as a reason not to launch a new idea. If you already have a job, nothing is stopping you from using your free time to work on it. This is a common approach for most people before they quit their employment to focus on the business full-time. And for those who have an idea and are waiting for the right time...there is no “right time” to launch a business. You have to let go of your attempt to control everything and accept that things will be what they will be. “The right time” is a different way of saying “not happening”.
Business ideas come in different shapes and sizes. Not all of them are worth billions but a lot of them are worthy enough to give you the freedom to do something you enjoy. Just because you don’t have an idea today, doesn’t mean you won’t have one tomorrow, next week, or next month. The important thing is acting on the idea. Ask the questions we mention, and others you think are crucial, and make a decision whether or not it is viable. Friends and family are always going to be supportive because they want you to succeed, that’s why it’s important not to ask them in the early days about your idea. If you’re thinking of starting a new venture you might be better going to a Facebook page, forum, or asking strangers for honest feedback. It might not be what you want to hear but it will save you time, money, and effort in the future. Yes, starting a business is scary but with the right idea, the right information, and the right approach, it might just be the best thing you ever do.
This article is written in general terms and therefore cannot be relied on to cover specific situations; application of the principles set out will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and we recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of its contents.