Have you ever wondered what makes a good business idea great? What’s more, why are some business ideas profitable and most of them are not?
In this step-by-step guide, I’ll show you an easy way to get started and come up with multiple business ideas that will excite you and, most importantly, that you can monetize.
Finding the right business idea for you could be a never-ending process that keeps you stuck for months or even years. I was there 8 years ago, when I started my first online business and I know the feeling of writing down business ideas and wondering: “Would anybody be interested in paying for this?”
Business Idea Myth #1: I just can’t generate good business ideas!
1. Step #1: How to generate unlimited business ideas that you will love
2. Step #2: How to choose a winning idea in less than 60 seconds
3. Step #3: How to escape the “follow your passion” trap.
4. Step #4: How to validate your business idea before you even start selling
This is a common feeling when you just start the process of finding your business idea. I can even hear inside my mind that voice saying things like: “man, you are not an expert at anything” or “they will find out that you’re an impostor!”
“It’s almost like having writer’s block. I stay up thinking of ideas, but nothing ever sticks.”
If you recognize the sentence above, don’t worry. It’s absolutely normal. I was stuck for over two years in my business-idea phase. I tried everything until I realized that I don’t need the Million-Dollar Idea before I start a successful online business. I just need a “good enough idea” to start and get some traction.
So yes, you are in good hands. I spent over two years compulsively obsessed with the task of generating the PERFECT business idea.
In addition to that, I spent thousands of dollars on training programs, mentors and courses during the process.
“You don’t need the Million-Dollar Idea to start a successful online business. You just need a “good enough idea” to start and get some traction.”
Now, I want to invite you to go through this journey. You will need the commitment to go step by step and trust that you already have an awesome business inside you.
You just need the right instructions to find that business and put it out there to help people from all over the world.
Skills, knowledge and superpowers
Whether you believe me or not, you already have a business inside of you.
You have skills and knowledge that other people will pay for. Let’s think for a moment about this.
You are paying all the time for other people’s skills and knowledge. Maybe you have an accountant, because they have the specific knowledge and skills to handle your books.
Maybe you are learning Spanish or French or Portuguese, and you have a teacher that is helping you to learn the language.
A few months ago, I paid for a therapist specialized in helping people overcome certain blockages through hypnotherapy. I didn’t even know it existed before I met it!
What I am trying to tell you is that all those people have specific skills and knowledge that are valuable to other people.
You may be thinking, “I am not a certified accountant or a trained therapist. Nobody will pay for my ‘ordinary’ skills.”
You are wrong, and let me tell you why.
I want to introduce you to Sumit Bansal. He is really good with Microsoft Excel. Do you know that moment when you need to use a complicated formula on MS Excel and don’t have a clue how to do it?
Well, he is the guy at work you’ll ask for help in that situation, because he knows a lot about it.
He could be an ordinary salaryman working 9-5 in the office, using his MS Excel skills to impress his boss and colleagues.
Instead, he created TrumpExcel.com and teaches people from all over the world how to use MS Excel efficiently. Selling online courses and other digital products make him more than $10,000 a month in sales.
His special skill is MS Excel.
So at this point, I want you to understand that you have a business already inside of you. I want you to think out of the box, just for the sake of having fun.
This phase is all about exercising your “Idea Muscle.” This is a concept that I learned from James Altucher.
Don’t be afraid if you’re coming up with bad ideas. At this point, there are no good or bad ideas, just ideas. You’ll have the opportunity to test the best ones in an upcoming step in this process.
Trust me. I want you to exercise the idea muscle and find the skills, knowledge, and superpowers you constantly undervalue, all the time —more of this in a minute.
Just like Sumit realized that he was good at MS Excel – actually, better than most – you’ll find your skills.
To help you go through this process, I’ve created three different categories so you can classify your ideas in this process: Skills, knowledge and superpowers.
This is the first step. You have a large variety of skills, just like the “Excel guy”, that other people will find very valuable.
This includes any skill you have. Please, don’t get stuck at this point trying to find sophisticated skills. Remember, it can be as simple as being good at Excel.
Here you have some examples for some inspiration:
- I speak Spanish.
- I can generate leads on LinkedIn.
- I finish with zero in my inbox every day.
- I keep my stuff perfectly organized all the time.
- I can almost always find cheap flights.
Don’t overthink at this point. You will have the opportunity to clean up your list later on.
Here I want you to think about your knowledge, whether you think it is valuable or not.
Maybe you have deep knowledge of Star Wars, and you think there is no way to build a business around that.
In that case, let me tell you about Rebel Force Radio, a podcast that centers on Star Wars – and yes, they make money from it.
Now it’s time to come up with as many ideas as you can. We’ll validate the best ones later.
Don’t worry if you come up with random knowledge ideas, like having a deep knowledge of bar games. Yes, bar games.
That wasn’t a random example. I was talking about Patrick Hess, founder of Bar Games 101. He teaches people a wide variety of games to play with friends and family, and he’s making over $4,000 a month.
- Legal steps that every entrepreneur needs to know.
- Great knowledge of bar games.
- The best places in your area to go camping.
What I mean by superpowers is some problem or challenge that you have overcome in the past.
Very often, we overcome obstacles and challenges in life that we quickly forget about.
In my case, I moved to the UK from Spain. I spoke no English at the time, but I started my first profitable online business in the UK, which allowed me to live financially independent and learn the language.
That was a huge challenge I wasn’t sure I’d be able to beat. Now, it’s not even a challenge, and I can move virtually anywhere without even seeing that as a problem.
Examples of challenges you might have overcome:
- Moving to a new city and making friends.
- Getting out of debt.
- Losing 60 pounds before your wedding.
- Landing a great mortgage on a low income.
If you’ve overcome problems like these, you can certainly help and guide other people to do the same.
Business Idea Myth #2: People only pay for top experts and I am not an expert.
As I have shown you in those examples you don’t need to be a top expert featured in CNN every week. You just need to have a deep understanding of a certain topic that gives you the advantage of teaching other people and add enough value to them.
Write down at least 10 ideas in each area: Skills, Knowledge and Superpowers.
The goal here is to generate at least 30 ideas that you can validate later. Don’t worry if some of them are worse than others. The goal is to keep your idea muscle working and generating new ideas.
Generating good ideas is a skill in itself, one that you can improve with practice.
Red flag: If you are coming up with the same ideas in each area, maybe you are not opening your scope enough. Don’t worry. You are playing, and you can write absolutely ANYTHING you want. You are just downloading your brain and exercising your “idea muscle”. At this point, nothing can go wrong.
Now that you have your 30 ideas, you’ll need to pick the best three ideas you came up with. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. We are testing and validating ideas.
Ok, wait a minute…
I know what you are thinking right now: I am here to find the right business idea, how am I going to pick the best three?
Don’t panic, I created a simple system to help you score every one of your ideas so you will easily identify the ones with more potential. This is based on a combination between your idea, your market demand and business potential.
Of course, you can go into something more sophisticated than this, actually, you will find a complex business idea matrix out there with dozens of parameters like, scalability, growing market, margin profit and a lot of others.
In my honest opinion, at this point, that’s a huge waste of time.
All you need now is to generate valid ideas that you can submit to the market and get real quick feedback, positive or negative, so you’ll know what’s the next step.
Complexity is the enemy of execution.
So, here is how it works. The most important thing that you want to know in order to rapidly prioritize your business ideas is to know a) if you are solving a relevant problem b) if there are enough people that want to solve that problem and c) if they are willing to pay you for it.
The way that you are going to do this is by answering the following questions for each one of your business ideas.
- How many people have the problem?
- How much do they desire to solve the problem?
- How much will they pay to solve it?
You must rate each question from 0 to 10. Where 0 is completely unlikely and 10 is completely probable.
You should have something like this.
Alright, now you can apply these 3 questions and score every one of your ideas. You’ll notice that some of your ideas are directly discarded, that’s fine, remember that the previous phase was all about developing your idea muscle and generating as many ideas as you can.
As James Altucher says, the idea muscle is a muscle and like any other muscle, you can improve it with exercise.
The result of this process is your 3 main business ideas that you’ll move to the next phase, the validation.
By the way, if you’ve made it so far I would love to hear your 3 winner ideas, you can send them to my email and I’ll give you my feedback.
Now, I want to make a little stop here to tell you something important. We are categorizing your ideas in terms of market demand and business potential (profitability), that’s very important if you are building any business.
But if you are here reading this guide, you probably want to start a business that makes you feel proud and fulfilled. I am fully dedicated to showing other people a different way to build a meaningful business, one that can grow around (and support) your lifestyle and not the other way around.
This is why, at this point, I want you to take a close look at those 3 ideas and ask yourself: Am I really excited about the topic?
Notice that I am not asking you about finding your passion here. Way back, when I started my business, I followed the advice from “gurus” that say things like “find your true passion and build a business around that, you won’t work again in your life”
My true passion? How am I suppose to find that?!
Business Idea Myth #3: you need a moment of divine inspiration to find the right business idea.
In the real world, that means that you will feel overwhelmed by the need of finding that magical feeling that you would expect when finding your passions, right?
That magical feeling never comes, and if it does, last for a few days and then disappears. When it disappears you feel empty and questioning everything again: I won’t be able to find “my passion” again.
If you are trapped in this dynamic, forget about looking for your passion. It’s so overwhelming and hugely overrated.
Instead, I recommend something far more easy and approachable, just focus on your curiosity.
What are those things that you are curious about? Take a look at the latest 10 books that you read, what’s the topic?
What’s that topic that you could talk for 30 minutes without preparation?
Find something you’re curious about, it’s that simple, something you just want to know a little more about. That’s a great way to get started and feels a lot more achievable. Right?
If you are starting a business DO NOT follow your passion. Passion it’s confusing, ephemeral and overrated. Follow your deepest CURIOSITY instead and you’ll find something bigger and more exciting than your passion.If you are starting a business DO NOT follow your passion. Passion it’s confusing, ephemeral and overrated. Follow your deepest CURIOSITY instead and you’ll find something bigger and more exciting than your passion. Here is how you… Click To Tweet
Now it’s time to submit all your ideas to the Business Idea Score process that I introduced you in this step.
As a result, I want you to pick the 3 ideas with the highest score and once again check how excited and curious you are about those ideas. This is important because you will spend a lot of time talking, researching and teaching your market about the topic.
Congratulations, now you have your 3 winner ideas and you can move to the next step.
No pain… no profit.
In the previous step, you gave a score to every idea because you guessed the market demand and monetary value for each case, so now we are moving from guessing data to real data.
In this step, we are going to evaluate the REAL demand for your business ideas —the winner ones. In other words, we want to know how many people are out there interested in this topic.
Even more important than that, we want to know how interested they are in the topic. To do this, we need to know their pain points and desire to solve the pain. Remember, every profitable business solves a meaningful problem.Every profitable business solves a meaningful problem, if you can’t do that you’ll struggle to grow your business. Here is how you can know EXACTLY what your market wants and what they will pay for. No pain… no profit. Click To Tweet
For example, learning how to cook healthy food could be interesting for many people, but not a burning pain.
On the other hand, finding a way to lose 60 pounds in six months before their wedding is a burning pain they want to solve.
The ultimate goal here is to scan the market and figure out what your potential clients are, what they want and what are their pain points.
To do this, I’ll tell you about some resources available to you. I’ll show you the best ones and how to use them.
Reddit is a massive forum where millions of people post questions and chat about a large variety of topics.
The bad thing: People talk about a lot of crazy things.
The good thing: People can be really honest when they are talking to unknown people from a place of total anonymity.
Here is where Reddit can become a powerful resource – that is, if you find the right threads and pay attention to what people say.
Let’s say you are targeting people trying to lose weight before their wedding.
You’ll type something like that, and then the magic starts. The first thing you’ll see is a large number of results (those are Reddit threats) from people commenting on the topic.
By the way, if you don’t see enough results, check if you’re asking the right questions. But be careful, because this may be a red flag indicating that there is not enough interest in your topic.
The next step is to go inside the thread and review the comments. Ideally, you want to find a large number of comments in each thread. This indicates that people are really interested in the topic.
Now, I want you to become a researcher digging deep into what those people are writing, how they express themselves, and what their pains and challenges are. You want to find trends in their comments.
For example, take a look at the first comment I found. I highlighted the most interesting bits.
What we see here is so interesting.
First, you can see there are already 60 comments. This is a hot topic!
Now, pay attention to the things I found:
- “My goal is to feel comfortable enough to go shopping [a wedding dress]”
- “I feel like my arms look huge!”
- “I was always super skinny growing up and the models in bridal gowns make me feel fat lol.”
- “I want to look good in photos I’ll likely have for the rest of my life.”
Did you see that? We were looking for validation, and there you can see real pains, obstacles and dreams. That’s exactly what you want to find to start validating your idea and know there’s a market out there that will resonate with your message.
Of course, you will need to go deeper than that and check every single comment, take notes and find patterns. This is how you really get to understand your market and validate your business idea.
Business Idea Myth #4: Validating my business idea implies that I need to launch my business first and see if it works.
You can use exactly the same Reddit tactic on Amazon.
As you know, Amazon is the biggest library in the world. You can search for your topic on Amazon, just like you did for Reddit.
You are going to find books related to your topic. Pay attention to how they address the problem and who are they targeting.
As a recommendation, go to the four-star reviews or less and look below to see the most interesting comments from people who actually bought the book but are not 100% happy. Those insights are gold for your research.
The main goal for Step is to understand market demand. To achieve this, you will need to define two things:
- Who they are: Identify as many marketing personas as possible.
- What their pains are: Identify as many pain points as possible for those marketing personas.
What you want at this point is to validate that there is a real market with specific problems, and you are going to measure that market.
Remember, at this point, we are validating our idea. The last thing you want is to start working on your business idea and spend months investing your limited time in it, only to discover that there’s no real market for what you’re selling.
Red Flag: If you are exploring a topic where you think you have experience and you are guessing the answers here, please don’t do it. If you guess what other people want, you will be wrong.
Do the job, go deep, and understand the market. If you do this right from the beginning, you will have a solid foundation on which to build a successful online business.
ACTION PLAN: Know if your market will PAY FOR it —even before start selling.
Take the 3 business ideas with the highest score from STEP 2. We are going to validate it. Again, I want to remind you that we are just testing these ideas, so don’t put extra pressure on yourself trying to find the million-dollar idea on your first attempt. If we find out that this is not a good idea, we can change it or simply go to the next idea on your list.
Trust me, I was working for two years on a bad business idea, only to realise too late that I was going nowhere. I don’t want that to happen to you.
We are taking baby steps, going slowly but surely.
Next, I want you to do the research, the same thing you did on Reddit and Amazon. Please, be meticulous and take your time. This is not a 30-minute job.
Take a few days to go through every thread and review every comment. Note what they say, how they say it, what are their problems, obstacles, challenges…
Take your time, and be curious m. This is the best advice I can give you at this point. Be curious and question everything, and take careful notes.
You will use those notes to develop your business idea later. This is work that 99% of your competition is not doing, and this is why it’s so important for you now.
Who are they?
Now, I want you to list every single type of marketing persona you find related to your topic.
A marketing persona is a representation of a type of user. For example:
- People who enjoy travelling to luxurious hotels, fly business class, and go to Michelin five-star restaurants could be a marketing persona.
- People who do adventure travel and enjoy getting lost in the jungle for days would be a totally different marketing persona.
Both marketing personas enjoy travelling, but they are totally different from each other.
The goal is to identify as many personas as you can. Don’t worry if you’re not interested in targeting some of those personas. By now, you are measuring the market and you want the whole picture.
You’ll decide later which of those personas you will target.
A key insight here is to go beyond demographics. You know, you can “classify” your marketing personas according to demographics in fields like:
- Where they live
- Job position
I recommend that you go one step further and think about psychographics. There aren’t many groups of people who are conform to the exact same pattern. Markets are much more varied and complex. We join people who think like us and have the same dreams and goals in life.
Psychographics will tell you, for example:
- What their fears are
- What their dreams are
- Where they go for holidays
- What they do on a perfect weekend
The better you understand the desires, frustrations, and personalities of the people you seek to serve, the more successful you will be with your business.