Five questions to come up with one idea

Whether you’re thinking of an idea to start off in business or mulling over how to grow, Emma Jones suggests ideas will come from asking five straight questions.

Starting out

If you’d like to start a business and become your own boss but haven’t come up with an idea, start by asking yourself these three questions:

1. Is there a gap in the market? Have you tried to buy something that just can’t be found? If so, others may be looking too. Carry out research to gauge the number of people prepared to buy and plug that gap in the market with your product or service.

2. What is my passion/hobby/skill? As this can be turned into a way of making a living. Whatever your talent; whether it be photography, fashion, food, music, writing, you can earn an income from it. And if you’re making money from doing what you love, it never really feels like work!

3. Can I do what someone else is doing but do it better? Take a business idea and improve on it by adding your personal touch or an innovation. Attract customers by focusing on your point of difference.

Niche is nice

I used to deliver a presentation that included the line ‘What’s the BIG idea?’ but this gives the wrong impression as it’s not about having a ‘big’ idea – what’s important is to have a ‘niche’ idea. So ask yourself …

4. Does my idea cater to a niche audience? The more niche, the better. Bompass & Parr is a company that focuses on doing incredible things with Jelly (!), Green Union helps couples who want to have an eco friendly wedding, and sticks to its knitting (well, sewing) by providing personalised name labels and stickers for children. The benefits of a niche idea is you clearly know what you’re offering, and to whom. This keeps marketing costs low and customer satisfaction high.

Keep on innovating

You’ve developed a niche and a loyal following of customers and it’s time to come up with ideas to help the business grow. There’s one final question to ask of yourself:

5. Am I monetising my product/service in as many ways as possible without diluting the brand and quality of delivery?

Asking this question will challenge you to think of new revenue streams. If you sell a skill or knowledge, are you generating revenue by delivering that knowledge online, at events, and in print/digital format. If you’re doing all these things you can be generating income from online advertising, paid-for content, product sales and event fees. The opportunities are endless. And it all started with one small, niche idea!

If you have an idea and would like £100 to turn it into action, enter Ideas 101

About the Author: Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation, a business expert, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up’ and ‘Working 5 to 9’

Emma Jones

Emma Jones is Founder and Editor of Enterprise Nation, the home business website. She has successfully started two businesses from home offices in London, Manchester and rural Shropshire.Following a career with an international accountancy firm, Emma started her first home based business at the age of 27 and successfully sold it just 15 months after launch.Redbrick Enterprises Ltd was founded in 2002 to advise the public sector on effective homeworking. Spotting a gap in the market to provide information and inspiration to homeworkers, Emma launched Enterprise Nation [], the home business website, in January 2006.The website is a free resource for people starting and growing a business at home and has a readership of more than 390,000 people. As well as site content, there is also a free fortnightly e-newsletter and podcast.Emma’s first book on how to start a business from home Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home will be published by Harriman House in May 2008.

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