How to come up with a business idea?

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Yes, yes I know. Starting your own business sounds magical when you say it out loud. Daydreaming about the money you’ll make while traveling around the world sounds fantastic but… first of all, you need an idea to start.

If you’ve already decided to start something on your own, congratulations! You’re one step ahead. In this post, I’m gonna share my process of coming up with a business idea.

The million rupee mistake!

Here’s where everybody makes the biggest mistake. They focus on making a lotta money! If your only goal is to make money out of your business, you’re in it for the wrong reason. At least, that’s my opinion.

Most entrepreneurs fail because they all want to make a lot of money and get rich. That’s what differentiates a wantrepreneur and an entrepreneur. Some wantrepreneur classics

  • App market is really picking up in Sri Lanka. I should get a bunch of coders and start an App development company
  • There are tourists everywhere. I think it’s time to start a travel agency
  • Everybody seems to make money in ecommerce. I should start one too (like we need any more ecommerce sites!)

Entrepreneurs solve problems

Entrepreneurship is always about solving problems. You have to identify pain points in your life. That’s the best way to come up with an idea. Think for a second. What are the things that are troubling in your life? Try to figure out a solution for that.

That is exactly how I started Jump Book Shop. I’m a huge fan of great books. Books about entrepreneurship, startups, personal development and everything else that fall in the same genre. But the problem was, most of the books I was looking for were not available in Sri Lanka. Even if I could purchase them from Amazon, it takes more money to get it shipped than the actual price of the book!

That was a pain point in my life. That’s why I started Jump Book Shop. If no one bought any books from my site, at least I have one customer. ME!

I have solved the problem to myself.

Now people from Jaffna and Vavuniya buy books from our online store. Why? Because I have solved another problem. I’m sending books for free-shipping Island wide. So you must be wondering whether I make a lot of money right. Well, I don’t make much. But I guess I’m on the right track.

Find your pain points

Think about your daily life. What kind of problems do you have? Find things that you’re struggling with. Then try to solve the problem for yourself. If nobody buys your product, you’ll still have one customer and that’s YOU. That’s how Kraftsy started their journey. Crystal wanted durable shoes that lasts for a longtime. She solved the problem to herself by creating crochet based shoes. Now they are a huge business. Read Kraftsy, a story about an accidental Sri Lankan entrepreneur here.

What interests you?

Sometimes you gotta work on things that are interesting to you. Do you love watching TV shows? Then start recommending good TV shows to your friends. If you don’t want to do anything and sleep all day, learn about “sleeping.” Start a website for Sri Lankans on sleeping well. You can share tips and hacks to get a good night sleep. (Thank me later lazy a**)

That’s how Sameera Batagoda started Trips Lanka. He loved traveling, backpacking and hiking. So he gave up his accounting career to start a travel company. He turned his passion into a profitable business. Read the story of how Sameera went from backpacking to entrepreneur here.

You need to do something that interests you. Don’t start an outdoor hiking company if you hate setting foot outside your house.

Bad ideas are GREAT

Here’s something that you can do right now. Grab a paper and a pen and write down 10 business ideas. Don’t overthink it. Just write down whatever comes to your mind. Don’t think about the practicality of them.

But what if you can’t come up with a single good idea? That’s a bummer. Don’t focus so hard on coming up with great ideas. Your job is to come up with ‘ideas.’ It doesn’t matter how bad they sound.

Want to create a delivery service using pigeons? Cool. Write it down.

Once you finish your task, see if you have any idea that you’d like to work on. If not, follow the process again. In a sea of bad ideas, you will find one good business idea. I can guarantee you that.

What if someone is already doing it?

Here’s the thing. In most cases someone might be doing something similar to your idea. But if you haven’t heard of them; then the market is still not fulfilled. So don’t worry if someone else is running a clothing shop or having a food blog. There’s always enough market.

When we really look at it, the population in Sri Lanka is increasing and so does the income level of people. So day by day, there will be more people demanding more things. There is plenty of market for anybody.

Catalog your ideas

Did you know that most world changing ideas came while most of them were in toilets? That’s a bit of an exaggeration but in case if you have noticed, we come up with great ideas while we think the least of them. For example, the shower. Or when you’re watching a movie or going for a walk.

Whenever a business idea strikes you, catalog them. Otherwise you’ll forget them. I use Evernote to catalog everything that comes to my mind. Since it syncs between my computer and phone, I can easily access them later.

Start cataloging your ideas. You don’t have to work on them pronto. But it’s good to save them for later.

What’s next?

Let’s assume you came across some great ideas. Now what? Well, the next step is validating your idea. Our next post is about validating your idea. Till then, work on your idea. Try to find a solution to your problem. See if your friends face the same problem.

I hope you got something out of this. Comment and let me know what you think. If you liked it, share this with your friends and spread some love. Click any Share icon in this page.

If you want to start an online business in Sri Lanka, we have a practical workshop for you. It’s called E-Commerce Essentials. To learn more and join the next workshop, click here.

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