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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Find out what consumers are buying right now:
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:
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.
Click on Kickstarter Discover to browse projects by popularity or funding.
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.
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.