11 places to find business ideas online

Look for inspiration on the web

The internet offers a huge range of places to find business ideas and they’re so convenient to browse. I don’t know what I’d do without it. In the beginning of your search, ramble through a few sources rather than focus on a single one. I think of it as getting familiar with the category, it’s not a purposeful task like drilling for oil… at least not to begin with.

Lightbulbs-find-business-ideas

If you visit every site on the list your brain cells will dry up…

How to find business ideas using these sites

All you have to do is be aware that these options exist. Dip in and out to flesh out your understanding of a niche. These sites let you look at an industry from different angles which puts you in the perfect position to find business ideas.

  1. Consumer trend publications

    Trend publications show you the ideas other entrepreneurs are introducing to the market as well as where those markets are heading. This is the place to find business ideas from a tiny bubble that might turn into the next big thing.

    Examples:

    • Trendwatching A free and premium service to scan the globe for emerging trends.
    • Trend Hunter The largest collection of cutting edge ideas from across the world.
    • Springwise New ideas and trends appearing across the world. Free bulletin for daily or weekly news.
  2. Social media

    Butterflies

    Social media is one of the first places where people flock to share their experiences. That means the good and the bad, and for business ideas there’s more opportunity in the bad. Products that don’t work, disappointing brands and little differences you’d never think of. Look for phrases such as ‘Why isn’t there a…’ or ‘I wish there was a…’. On most platforms you can search by hashtag. Search for words of disappointment or tags that suggest buyer intent such as #want or #buy.

    Many social platforms provide links to trending topics or popular pages. Rather than limit yourself to the area you planned to visit explore these lists to find the latest buzz. There are always celebrities and technologies that you’ve never heard of. These may provide wider associations that take your ideas to a different niche.

    TV shows and the second screen

    There are several good TV programmes that cover business ideas. I’m thinking of shows like Dragons Den or Shark Tank. These shows in themselves may not spark ideas for you. But nowadays it’s common for the audience to watch a TV programme with one eye on their tablet or mobile device. When programmes of interest air check online to discover live feedback. The products presented may not be what your consumer is looking for but listen closely to understand why.

  3. Social curation sites

    Pinterest and other image curation sites reveal a whole lifestyle that your product will have to fit into. You get an idea of what attracts customers, what they’re wishing for and organising their lives around. Take a look at the boards they’ve created outside your core product to find business ideas that can be shaped to appeal to a multi-faceted human being rather than simply satisfy one need.



    Examples including one you might know…

    • Pinterest
    • Polyvore A site to create collage ‘sets’ using a wide range of products.
    • Wanelo.com (Want – Need – Love) brings together products and stores in the style of Pinterest.
  4. Forums and communities

    These places are made for conversation. It’s where people share their disatisfactions and that’s rich ground for business ideas. Many forums are niche-based so you can drill down to your particular area of interest.

    reddit

    One of my favourite examples is Reddit. It gives itself the tagline ‘the front page of the internet’ so you know your finger is going to be on the pulse.Within the site you can find specialised ‘subreddits’ or sub-sections which cater for different areas of interest. Look for a subreddit catering for your area of interest or look at the following:

  5. Q&A sites

    These sites give you access right to the heart of a customer problem. You get an exact understanding of what customers require and how much they need it. Even where a question has been answered assess how well the solution fits. You may find business ideas in a better solution.

    Q & A

    Examples: Quora, Askville or Answers.com.

  6. Search engines

    The easiest way to find business ideas through search engines is to simply look for a particular product and note what isn’t available. Of course this is a very basic way of searching for ideas. The results depend very much on what you search for and you may not get very far…

    Search engines are useful for a more detailed keyword research at a later stage in the process of identifying a business opportunity. Enter your area of interest into the search box and see what suggestions appear as you type. You can also use Google’s ‘Searches related to…’ section that appears at the bottom of the page. As well as search engines there are many effective online and offline keyword research tools. But at this stage we’re looking at broader sources of ideas.

  7. Product discovery and review sites

    These are sites that focus on what consumers want now or what manufacturers hope they wish for. You get a feel for what other entrepreneurs think is possible. Explore consumer review blogs in relevant niches.

    Examples of fairly general sites. Ideally find a review site that specialises in your industry:

    Firebox
  8. Consumer marketplaces

    Now this is quite a big category… Focus on the trending and popular offerings to get a quick appreciation of where the market is heading. Use the sites’ own recommendations to prevent yourself getting bogged down in an information overload.

    Shopping trolley

    Find out what consumers are buying right now:

  9. B2B Wholesale marketplaces

    Wholesale and manufacturer sourcing sites offer thousands of potential products and ideas. When you browse these sites you get to see what offerings are coming onto the market or are currently available. Look for ways that these products could be adapted to better fit your customer needs.

    Big marketplaces where you’ll need to navigate to your area of interest or risk getting bogged down:

  10. Crowdfunding platforms

    Businesses and startups look to platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo for funding opportunities. These sites are a great way to discover trends and new product ideas. You can learn a lot about the future of an industry by which ideas receive funding and how consumers react. The future is as important as current interest when you want to find business ideas that will go on generating revenue.

    Download-Kickstarter

    Click on Kickstarter Discover to browse projects by popularity or funding.

  11. Industry leaders

    When you know the industry where you want to be, try to discover the influencers. Be where they are! Follow these people on social media for curated content from current operators who understand the industry. You’ll find out how they think it should be done, and that’s what you’ve got to improve on.

    Online tools for discovering key influencers: Ninja Outreach, LittleBird and FollowerWonk.

    The tool I know best is Topsy but they all get good reviews.

The web provides an abundance of avenues for examining opportunities from all angles. Information is floating by about the market, the suppliers and the consumers. I recommend you dip in and look at several of these sources for each opportunity you’re considering. In combination these sites give you the basis to find business ideas with a foundation to take off from.

And what do you do to make money from your niche? One of the first areas to explore is information marketing. Take a look at 6 niche business ideas using information marketing.

Donald

Title:
11 places to find business ideas online
Description:
You can find business ideas in many corners of the web. The key is to combine different angles of the market, suppliers and consumers.
Author:
  • Hey Donald,

    Good post.

    It’s true that you can get ideas from anywhere. I know for myself, that forums are a major place that I get a lot of ideas from … now and in the past. They’re always so rich with information.

    But the new thing is Q & A sites. And I’ve browsed a few and written down a few ideas. Maybe in the future, I can implement them and turn it into a full-fledged business idea.

    Good stuff.

    – Andrew

    • Hi, Andrew,

      Totally agree about Q&A sites, they seem such a perfect resource. Gone are the days when I could just browse without thinking, there always seems to be an idea to explore or something to implement.

      Thanks for dropping by, enjoy the rest of the week.

  • Hi, Donald,

    Wow, what a great topic for discussion as I’m always looking for new places to find business ideas online. Great article, and I couldn’t agree more with all of your points.

    It seems as if it’s a little bit more difficult to be inspired online these days, so this is an insightful article, and I’m glad you came up with it!

    Ya know, I have followed many hashtags to see what was behind the invisible curtain, and have been pleasantly surprised a few times. I’ve never heard of Polyvore or Wanelo, so thanks so much for sharing those resources.

    Reddit! I do use Reddit, but have my VA submit my content to the appropriate category as this is in my Standard Operating Procedure for blog promotion. I should check out some of the details of Reddit that you brought up – this could be powerful!! :-)

    I’ve used Answers dot com and Quora, but never Askville. Boy, you’re full of golden nuggets today, Donald, thanks so very much!

    I have used Amazon quite a bit to find out more about my target audience, by reading the reviews and understanding their pain points, as well as listening to the language they use. It takes work, but yields tons of value, that’s for sure.

    I’ll be using Alibaba when I get my eCommerce store up. It’s on the back burner until I get some other projects finished up.

    I love to use Topsy and have been benefiting for quite some time from finding influencers that way. Great resource. :-)

    You gave a lot of food for thought and also practical resources that we can use to further our business marketing and growth in general. I really appreciate you putting this together for us.

    Sharing this out. . . Hope you have a wonderful rest of the week.

    ˜Carol Amato

    • Hi, Carol,

      I’m really pleased you appreciate this one. I have to say I’m overwhelmed at the possibilities of finding out more about an opportunity online.

      Hashtags are such a gift, they take you right to what you want. I’m still blown away by the idea of Google! I have to say I look up any little query that comes into my head because it’s almost certain someone else has had the same problem and posted about it.

      You have a Standard Operating Procedure for blog prromotion – I’m impressed. I have a list, so that’s not quite on the same scale but I now where to be aiming.

      I’d like an ecommerce store too but there are so many other things to do as well – that one’s on a very back burner.

      Thank you so much for sharing. Past the halfway mark, enjoy the rest of the week.

  • Hey Donald,

    It seems like everywhere you turn today you can come up with ideas as far as what people are searching for and wanting.

    I had heard of several of the places you’ve shared here but not all. I remember always being told to head over to Amazon and look at the best sellers list. Granted, they have a lot of different products there and it can give you great ideas.

    I never cared for the question and answer communities myself but I can see why they would be very helpful.

    Of course I’m not personally looking for any new ventures at the moment but you’ve given me some great ideas for when that time comes. Thanks for putting this one together Donald, great share.

    ~Adrienne

    • Hi, Adrienne

      Good to see you. The internet does seem to be the place for all sorts of ideas, you can branch off in so many places. It’s not somewhere to relax anymore :)

      I don’t often go to Q&A sites, except when I’m looking for an answer. Most of the time they just crop up in Google searches. But it’s a great resource for finding ideas, I must make more use of them myself.

      Thanks for dropping by, be sure to take plenty time out this weekend.

  • Hey Donald,

    Nice list of resources.

    I have only been using 2 main sources to get content ideas lately.

    Pinterest (a little addicted LOL) and Buzz sumo.

    I went back to old school and keep a pen and pad close all day. You never know when inspiration will hit. I will lose an idea as fast as they come sometimes if Im in the middle of something, sooo frustrating!

    Thanks for these and have a great week ahead.

    • Hi, Steven

      I’ve got to say I’m addicted to Pinterest too! I think it’s really good for ideas, actually, I definitely don’t hold back from using it, it’s not like wasting time on Facebook.

      I haven’t used Buzz sumo before but I know it’s really popular. I’ll check it out when I’ve got time.

      I do use pen and paper a lot too! For ‘long term’ lists I keep it online but for day-to-day lists I just get it down on paper. Of course it means from time to time I’ve got to transfer things online but it seems to work for me.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  • Hi Donald,

    This a good one for sure :) Ideas are everywhere, just that we don’t have the time or patience to look, right? Especially these days, we can have an overwhelming amount of information when we are looking for business ideas :) The trick is to look into the right places.

    I love that you have listed/included question and answer sites like Quora here. I used to NOT believe these sites as source of ideas. But I recently realized that I was wrong.

    There are really nice hidden gems in these sites, especially if one has the patience to browse through the questions and be patient enough to read all the answers :) Some experts give super advice and ideas on user question.

    Thanks for the wonderful collection, I appreciate that. Have an awesome week :)

    Cheers,
    Jane.

    • Hey, Jane

      It really does seem that ideas are everywhere. It seems you can expect to find one on any site you click on. This list covers the places whee they really stand out. But definitely everywhere is a fair place to look :)

      Oh, I think you should forget patience and reading through everything on Q&A sites. Just skip to what intersts you and forget the rest. There’s too much to get bogged down in.

      Thanks for commenting, cheers!