Coming up with start-up ideas is all about looking for problems that you personally experience or what you have observed those around you experience. The biggest mistake you can make is to think or construct ideas for start-ups. Those never work because they are inorganic and are based on a model that does not correspond to reality. Ideas for start-ups are all around you if you just know where to look. You should get into the habit of taking note of ideas as and when they come to you. Some make it a habit to write down a minimum number of ideas a day and eventually you will start looking for ideas everywhere and generate more and more as time goes by. It is difficult to force creativity but it can be built into an avalanche over time.
Another important aspect, once you have worked out an idea or ideas, is to run it by your close friends and family because nobody else will be as honest in their review. You can easily eliminate the bad ideas and get more advice on improving the good ones. You can even talk to them about commonly faced challenges or where they require help or assistance on a regular basis and come up with an idea that could overcome those hurdles. You can build a business around such solutions.
The best business solutions are those that fill gaps and which others have not realised or do not feel worth doing. Instead of reinventing the wheel, you just have to find out what is missing amongst the solutions that the big enterprises are already providing and fill those gaps. That is what makes a niche player. Finding real problems to solve is important because it assures the entrepreneur that it really exists and is not an artificial business model. If many people you know and meet seem to have thought about the problem and a possible solution as well, then you can be sure that the idea for the product is good and it will probably sell. Because without at least some users desperately needing your product a regular basis, the business will not endure. It is not about products they may consider buying at some point. Rather, there needs to be a sense of urgency about it, an immediate demand to be met by supply.
Although this initial customer-base will necessarily be small, they will also be loyal and repeat customers. Despite compromising on the size of the audience, without first having built a strong base it will be difficult to expand further. Initially it is more about depth than breadth.
Other innovative ways are to participate and observe business forums on online communities such as Quora. You could also do it socially at networking meetings and seminars. People at your existing or previous workplace could also offer you some insights if you can probe with the right questions. You could even start a forum online pitching your idea and receiving feedback and suggestions from several people from diverse occupations. ‘TED talks’ is a very popular forum where people around the world discuss their thoughts and ideas. It can give you an idea of how to present your idea in a concise and interesting manner.
And though this is not easy to do, finding cheaper ways of doing everyday things is also a way to get people’s attention and eat into the market share.
Generally, staying up-to-date on your fields of interest can spark ideas which could ultimately translate into a successful business.