A) Financial security
C) Job creation
D) The opportunity to pursue your passion
E) You call the shots like a boss
F) You can retire and let your business make money for you
G) The opportunity to improve your skills and creativity
H) You can become a mentor to startup fledglings
And many more. And because of the above reasons, and given the fact that almost everyone has a business idea, many folks, including students, choose to start a business full time or as a side gig to their jobs and/or classes.
But are all business ideas eventually successful? Well, this is one of the big questions that this post will address.
The post, via the contributions of these 22 diverse business professionals, will also provide answers that will help folks come up with great business ideas that have a high potential for success.
And by the way, readers are encouraged to pay attention to repetitive opinions from contributors as these opinions may be emphatic on what every aspiring entrepreneur should know.
These frequently asked questions should help readers maximize the information from this post.
A) What are some great benefits of owning a successful business?
| Answer |
C) Does a great business idea imply success?
| Answer |
F) When should business startups start becoming profitable?
| Answer |
G) How do I come up with a catchy business name?
| Answer |
| Amy Finlay | Daria Newell | Julie Ann Wood | Stephen Ost | Eskander Loshak LLP | Kevin Lockett | Jason McCarthy | Dean McPherson | James Dyble | Syed Ali Hasan | Adeel Shabir | Maksym Babych | Sharon Melamed | Ben Taylor | Rio Rocket | Arto Minasyan | Taylor Andrew | Jarie Bolander | Max Falb | Gerry Seymour | Maria Malavenda | Amber Vilhauer |
When it comes to launching a business idea as a student, it’s not so much the idea that is going to determine the success of the business, but how you apply yourself in implementing the business idea.
Everyone has great business ideas about a possible new business every day, but ideas don’t make successful businesses, entrepreneurs who take ideas and work tirelessly to implement them are what make a business idea a successful reality.
To come up with a potential business idea is very easy, just look at any business in almost any niche that is already a success. All you have to do now is look at things they may be doing that you could do better. You can take inspiration from what they are already doing and then add your ideas and approaches to make your business even better.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to come up with a good business idea, that’s the easy part. The hard part is the implementation and an incredible amount of hard work and determination that is required to make the business a success.
However, as a student, you have a lot of advantages on your side. Most students who have come from school are young with little to no responsibilities and low expenses, so this is the perfect environment to be able to go into business with no hesitations and give it absolutely 100% as even if it doesn’t work out, you have very little to lose and potentially a lot to gain.
2) Daria Newell
My recommendation for any student who is seeking to start their own business is to become okay with failing and putting yourself out there. When you are coming up with a business idea, understand you may need to tweak the business concept multiple times – it doesn’t have to be bullet-proof the first time around, as long as you start.
If you have a business idea, seek out a mentor that is in your industry. Successful people love to help others as they were once in the same place. One of my mentors, A. Cole, CEO of Complex Entertainment, always tells me, Knowledge is a gift that is meant to be shared.” It takes a whole lot of courage to even start, and when you consistently put yourself out there, you will discover people who will support your journey.
Understand the world runs off exchanging value. Get confident in what value you are offering through your product and/or service. Once you put your value into the market, start asking how you can better your value proposition.
Lastly, the most important thing to realize is that taking care of your mental health during the entrepreneurial journey is pivotal to success and avoiding burnout. Take care of yourself as the startup journey can be extraordinarily challenging.
3) Julie Ann Wood
I teach middle school and high school kids how to start a business in a youth entrepreneur camp format, and the first thing I tell students is that they should choose a business idea that they have experience in and like to do. I explain that running a business is not easy and so the more they know about the business idea the more they like it – the more they will stick with it.
I have them go through what I call the 3-2-1 process, and I have them write down:
A) -3 things they like to do in their spare time
B) -2 skills they have learned (can be a sport, academic subject, music, dance, video games, etc.)
C) -1 thing that others tell them they are good at (this is something they may not have thought about)
If they have the same answer for more than 1 question that is a good clue of what they might want to go further with.
After they have done that, I have them come up with problems that they can solve with the business ideas they came up with. I explain that customers are not going to pay for something that doesn’t solve a problem.
They need to look at how the customer is solving that problem already (if it is being solved) and see how their idea is something to keep pursuing.
They then need to look at costs (including time) and what customers will pay to make sure their business idea is feasible before going forward. We also use the Business Model Canvas as a way to clarify and validate their ideas.
I’ve been mentoring students for several years while they build their startups. The biggest piece of advice I’d provide is to be flexible in thoughts and become aware of repeating problems in your personal life. For example, as a college student, I kept noticing that I would have an hour or so free time between classes, and so I would text/call my friends to see if they could hang out or grab lunch.
This was a repeatable problem that came up multiple times a day, signaling an opportunity to address a great college niche problem.
And so, I built my first company called Ufree to address the issue. Ufree was an app meant to find your free friends, Who’re also free to hangout?. It showed your friends’ locations and events going on around you. It even lets you sync your school calendar. The App gained lots of traction and was eventually acquired.
In summary, the one piece of advice I would share is to *actively become aware of repeatable problems that you are experiencing every day. Odds are that others are also experiencing the same problem. That’s where your business idea would come from.* The next step would be how to execute on the idea.
As a business attorney, I’ve encountered numerous entrepreneurs and business owners. Some have been successful; others not so much. The thing most entrepreneurs don’t understand is that business ideas are a dime-a-dozen. No one likes to hear that harsh reality, but it’s the truth. Everyone, including your school janitor and restaurant busboy, has business ideas. The difference between them and successful business owners is the drive and HARD WORK that it takes to make a difference.
In reality, most successful businesses do NOT create some kind of new industry or radical invention – they just take an existing product or service and make it slightly better or different. Very few companies will ever become the next Facebook (which, by the way, followed very closely in MySpace’s footsteps).
Rather than focus on trying to create a new whimsical business idea or novelty, entrepreneurs should be focused on identifying problems that they encounter in their own lives. Each of these problems, no matter how small, is an opportunity for a thriving business. Maybe you can’t find a coffee flavor you like at the grocery store? There’s a business idea. Maybe you can’t find a comfortable undershirt? Business idea! Maybe you can’t find an app that has your local bus schedule? Business idea! Maybe…well, you get the picture.
Business ideas are all around us. It just takes awareness to identify a problem. The most important part, however, is to follow through after you’ve identified that problem. As with anything in life, success takes time. Most likely, your business is going to struggle to make any money for the first 2 or three years – but guess what? That’s okay! Not only is it okay, but it is expected
Most businesses don’t start seeing any profits until their third year of business. But that first three years is exactly where most businesses fail because they lack the diligence and perseverance to work hard in the midst of what seem like a failure. But for those who stick it out and keep working hard – the reward is usually right around the bend. Right there, just past the point where others quit, success lies waiting.
I’m not saying just take any old business idea and run with it. No, you still need to think your business idea through and get market feedback, test your idea, and do research. But don’t get too attached to any business idea or feel like your idea is just so great that you can’t risk sharing it with others. Trust me, that attitude will get you left behind when someone else has the same idea and runs with it, while you’re too busy keeping your business idea a secret.
Listen to the conversations your friends and classmates are having. What problems do they complain about the most? And then figure out a business idea that can help to solve that need.
Maybe you can create your own Uber eats for a dorm or create a service that helps students with their classwork.
The best startups fill a need and by simply listening to conversations and brainstorming ways to solve those problems, you might come up with a business idea that could make you the next Mark Zuckerberg or least have a very cool side hustle.
For example, when I was a fresh graduate, I start writing down problems I was facing – and then I would think of how to solve them.
My main problem was unemployment, so my solution was to search for an alternative employment option. This turned out to be teaching English online.
I then turned this as a way to solve the problem of unemployment, not just for me, but for as many people as I could. I created a recruitment website for online teaching which produced referral bonuses for hiring new teachers.
I pinpointed a problem. Solved it, for me, with a product or service. Then scaled it to solve the problem for a wider audience than just myself. But the important thing is to make sure there is a monetary reward for solving the problem.
It’s not all about solving the problem but solving it with style. You want to create a unique brand. I chose the path of making up a word as my brand name – DigiNo. Why make up a unique word?
It is always tempting to use a keyword such as “Best Shower Curtains” as your business name – but this lacks charm and branding scalability.
When you visit the Apple website – you may notice that they do not sell fruit. However, because of their branding, it’s arguable that people associate the word “Apple” with phones and laptops more than the actual fruit itself.
In short, a successful business idea is one that solves problems…with style. All you have to do to start is to write down key issues you are currently facing.
After all, a start-up starts with you.
8) Dean McPherson
So you want to start a startup, but you don’t know where to start? You might think that you’re not a creative enough person to come up with a startup, but thankfully, coming up with business ideas is a skill, not a gift, and it can be taught, learned, and honed. The downside of it being a skill is that chances are that the first business idea you have, probably won’t be good!
Here’s how to get started starting up.
A) Just like James Altucher – write down 10 ideas a day, every day.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re good business ideas or not! The main point of this exercise is to train your brain to identify an opportunity. If you’re struggling at the start of this, start by thinking of existing businesses, and see if you can put a spin on them – it could be the Airbnb for campsites, or Mailchimp for physical mailouts – it’s often easier to come up with a business ideas when you’re not starting from scratch. If you have experience in a given industry, use it! What do you know about your industry that outsiders don’t? What are the annoying parts of your day that you wish someone else would do or could be done in a 10x better way?
B) Create a shortlist
Regularly re-visit your list of ideas, and create a shortlist of business ideas that you have a good feeling about. If you follow steps 1 and 2 long enough, you’ll have a shortlist of business ideas that you feel might have legs
C) Research and evaluate the winners
Now that you’ve got a list of potential business ideas, you need to figure out which one is the most likely to succeed. I strongly recommend creating a Lean Canvas for each idea, to help think through what the idea would look like as a business. This is really important, because before you sink time and money into starting a startup you should have a strong idea on what the business is, who the target market is, how it will make money, how it is different from the rest of the market, and how you could get your business in the hands of the market.
Pick a business idea that you’re passionate about! If you’re going to succeed, you’re going to be in it for several years, and it’s going to get hard, boring, stressful and frustrating at times. You need to commit.
Finally, get ready to be flexible. By this stage, you’re probably really attached to your business idea, but chances are, you will need to adjust the business model, or even completely pivot the idea along the way.
D) What do I call my new startup?
If you can, name your startup something memorable, fairly short, has a dot com available and is trade-markable. One fun fact about trademarks is that it can’t be too descriptive of what you do! Apple can be trademarked for a hardware manufacturer, but not for an apple orchard. In the age of Google, it also pays to do some solid SEO research when naming your business.
9) James Dyble
A business idea, for me, should always be influenced by a strong passion for something. This is because you need a passion for your business to succeed. Ideally, you want to be looking at starting a business where you will never work another day again in your life because you love it that much.
I did exactly that, I formed the Global Sound Group through my love for music. At the time of starting my business, I could have opted to start a business in an area that may have guaranteed more of a success, but I knew I had to do something that I enjoyed. As a result, I took Global Sound Group into a global brand, in the music industry, within 5 years working with some of the world’s greatest and biggest musicians and major labels.
You may be thinking that you do not have a passion for anything. I hear this all the time, which is not true. Everyone has a passion for something whether it is buying clothes, social media or even eating out. All of these can be turned into businesses. A wise man once said something I believe to be true, and that is if you do something you love every day you will succeed. Therefore, if you are looking to start up a business do it in something that you enjoy. You will be grateful for it in the long run.
Once you know your passion, business ideas will automatically start popping into your head. Building a business around things you love is the key to success because you will love doing it. For example, you love cooking and want others to taste your food, so why not open a small diner?
If you have a passion for fashion, you can start your apparel store or sell it online. It all depends on the things that you love to do. When you combine your passion with skills and experience, your journey will become much smoother. Stay committed and never skip learning.
11) Adeel Shabir
Starting a business or startup allows you to work for yourself and on your business idea. Many individuals do leave their jobs to start their own business or curate their ideas to a startup.
The following, below, are tips to help you come up with your business idea:
A) Find your passion and look for what is needed concerning your startup idea. Passionate ideas will lead to your business success. If you have a passion for gardening, think of an idea associated with gardening and start working on it.
B) Survey the market. The best way to work on your startup is to know your startup niche current market trend. Will it work or not? And this will also help you ensure that you are targeting the best audience for the market.
C) Look for smaller problems and scale accordingly. The main idea of a startup is the solve the problem that is already in the market.
D) Develop an MVP (minimum viable product) and start doing the marketing for it. Get to know who is interested in your business and your product.
E) When all the research is done and you have the analysis of the product and market, its time to scale, by promoting your business on social media and getting the mandatory customer reviews about the startup idea.
Let us see how this can be done:
Identify the problem: take for example environment deterioration via pollution.
Consider the problem: People drive vehicles short distances.
Reverse the problem: Try to discourage people from using vehicles in this manner.
How do we achieve this? Help people to move short distances in a more environmentally friendly way.
Find the solution: Create a free rental service for electrical bicycles.
Add value: By providing cheap and ecological rent stations with electric bicycles. The battery charges up whilst on the move and subsequently can be used to charge street lights.
Create a user journey. Visualize and note how the process will work including the following steps: Where will people find stations? How will this application look? what does every piece of equipment do? How is the battery charged? Are there ride limits? How will customers connect a battery to street lighting?
Validate your business idea: Use questionnaires and your paper prototypes to obtain feedback from your target audience. Question bicycle riders, people who drive short distances and investigate legal requirements relevant to the town or city. You need to speak and get feedback from at least ten people.
How much is this likely to cost? Calculate your costs, which should include the following factors: Building the bicycle rental station, cost of bicycles, development of the project and cost of replacing or recharging the batteries to mention these few.
13) Sharon Melamed
If people want to come up with a business idea, the best way to start is to make a list of problems or frustrations you notice in your daily life. Then once you have a few, think about whether it would be possible to come up with a solution. Once you have found that magic problem and magic solution, start asking around what people think of your concept. And don’t just ask your parents and best friends! Ask lots of people who would use your product or service, if it existed. And not only that, ascertain if they would part with their hard-earned cash for it!
I used this thinking when coming up with my business idea, Matchboard. I noticed that people in offices everywhere spent so much time trawling through search engine results trying to find a supplier that could help them. I thought that was a time-consuming, frustrating experience that could be solved by making a business-to-business version of an online dating site, which quickly matched up buyers and suppliers?
Everyone I asked about the business idea said that it was a great idea, and then fast forward 7 years later, I can attest that it was! We’ve had huge success with thousands of clients and won lots of awards for the innovation.
One piece of advice I have, for aspiring entrepreneurs, is to wait a couple of days after you come up with your business idea, and not act on it in the spur of the moment before the dust has settled. What seems like a great idea one day may seem silly after all the next. You need time to reflect before leaping into action.
Finally, don’t kid yourself, not only about your business idea’s merit but also your ability to execute it. Don’t jump into a business where you don’t have the core skills required – or at least, don’t jump into it alone. Make sure you have a co-founder so you can put a tick in every box.
14) Ben Taylor
When you’re brainstorming business ideas, research is everything. Thankfully, there are great online tools to help with this. One example is Google Trends, which allows you to see the level of people searching for certain things. This can give you an instant steer on whether you are looking at something where interest is growing, or at something where demand may already have peaked.
Similarly, keyword research tools let you look at how many people are searching for specific phrases online, so you can assess demand and look at seasonal trends. You can rubber stamp business ideas (or dismiss them) very quickly with just a small amount of online research time.”
15) Rio Rocket
There are two ways to come up with a business idea. One is to serve a need that is currently underserved. The second is to improve upon an existing product, service, or idea. You can also combine the two.
Companies like GoPro sought to both improve upon an existing product, which is to capture video in the wild and serve the need to do so hands-free from a first-person perspective. Therefore the name of your startup should reflect the true meaning and essence of your product, service, or idea.
The name ‘GoPro’ represents the founder’s original aspirations to go pro as a professional surfer to be filmed at the time. The product line of HERO cameras represents their goal to capture close-up action footage that makes the wearer look like a hero.
Simplicity and being relatable is paramount to success. By keeping the business idea, development, execution, and naming process as simple as possible, the odds of success are greatly enhanced.
And the first being:
Why do so many people want to launch startups?
You find that there are a few very obvious answers, which are:
A) To become rich.
B) To be your boss.
C) To be praised by society.
The second question is:
Why should someone initiate a startup?
It is because you see a specific problem that impacts you, and you know exactly how to solve it and want to leave a positive impact on society.
For me, my own story is very representative and answers the question of why people should start startups. I and my co-founder often would find ourselves making calls with our colleagues and partners in the US. Due to extreme time zone differences, we had to make calls in various noisy locations, houses, restaurants, the airport, and even on the street. Background noises, people talking, police sirens, and so on, made us sound very unprofessional during our calls.
And so, what did we do?
As a developer and having a circle of professionals, I teamed up with them to start working on noise cancellation tech, driven by our personal experiences. We did some research to find out if there was any solution out there, and, fortunately for us, there was none. And so, we embarked on a solution.
In just a few months, we came up with the initial version of our tech, and the quality was shitty, but the potential was there to completely solve all background noise problems during voice calls. Afterward, we decided to make this process repetitive, which gave rise to our startup, Krisp: a deep-tech startup that makes the human voice sound better.
We submitted our product to ProductHunt to get the first feedback and validation of our product. We also got upvoted/approved by the tech community and started to work on our growth channels to scale our success. The simple but impactful ways to grow our customer base was giving out our product for free for a while. Besides that, it gave us time to improve the product, build our community, website and look for bigger channels.
Easy to say but that’s true – if you don’t feel a need in your product, you won’t come up with an idea for a startup and moreover, you won’t have that passion to carry on – execute your idea and see it to success.
It is often mistakenly thought that a business idea must necessarily be original. But to the contrary, you will find that very few entrepreneurial ventures are based on brand new ideas that no one has thought of before.
And so, one of the best and common ways to come up with a business idea is to brainstorm.
The brainstorming method is used equally to create ideas for starting a new business venture, as well as to develop new products or services in existing businesses.
To practice brainstorming, you’ll only need time and a way to record what you come up with. Always carry a notebook or journal with you to capture your business ideas when inspiration strikes you.
Write something down each day so that you can create a habit and encourage creativity daily. When you lack new business ideas, you can always take a peek in your notebook.
Your business ideas should be analyzed and critiqued, ultimately selecting one or more of them that are marketable.
A good business idea is a combination of your interests and skills and does not require a large initial investment or employment of many employees in the first year of business. A business idea is focused on the market in demand and has a distinct advantage over other similar products.
Typically, if you have a problem that needs to be solved, chances are, others like you will have the same problem. Of course, this is not always the case but that leads to the next part of idea creation — idea validation.
Once you have an itch you want to scratch, you need to validate that your idea is a business by getting your idea into the idea goldilocks zone. The idea goldilocks zone is the intersection between Minimal Viable Product, Product Market Fit, and Product Narrative.
Any business idea that you might have must be put into a tangible form via a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is the minimal features and functions to validate that your idea has Product-Market Fit. PMF is when customers download or pay for your MVP. This is a critical piece of an idea because the whole point of a business is to make money.
Now, your idea might not go gangbusters right away but having some traction, via revenue or downloads, validates you’re on the right track. Being on the right track is a combination of your MVP and your Product Narrative since how and what you tell people about your MVP will influence their decision to buy or download.
Your narrative must answer:
A) Why your product exists,
B) What pain it solves, and
C) Why it’s unique.
It’s those three questions that help customers select your product.
In terms of naming a company or product, there are no hard or fast rules on that. The rules that I like to adhere to are descriptive, unique, and easy to say business names. Try out a bunch on your friends and family to see which ones they like or even better, find people in your target market to ask.
A) What are you trying to do?
B) What problem is your goods or service trying to accomplish?
That’s the hardest step but I recommend doing as much research as possible and even talking with people to understand the problem and how you could come up with a solution.
The second part is coming with an MVP or minimum value product that can be quickly and easily be made to test out to see if people want the product or what other features you may not have thought of.
This process should happen multiple times and each time making the product more advanced to create something that people will use and want. Eventually, you will end up with a product that has been tested to be successful and you know who will want to use it.
20) Gerry Seymour
The first step in starting a new business – whether it’s a major endeavor or a fun side hustle – is identifying a need. You might be able to make the coolest new gadget, but that’s no help unless folks want it, and people rarely want things they don’t perceive as meeting a need. So start by looking around for a gap. You need either a gap you have a skill to fill or one you believe you can quickly acquire (learn or hire) the skill needed.
An example of this is a client of mine who was working in logistics in an outdoor-related industry. He had experienced the lack of specialized providers in his industry. They were forced to order from standard camping/hiking suppliers, and those products – while adequate – weren’t always ideal for their needs. On top of that, the suppliers didn’t understand the needs of the buyers, so they weren’t making good recommendations. This client did a bit of research to make sure he could compete with suppliers’ pricing.
Then he reached out to some contacts in the industry to make sure he had some clients ready to work with him (during those calls, he also fished for how to better suit their needs). He even secured his current employer as his first client before he left to start the company. Then he wisely started with a limited offering of the most-used items, to get cash flowing. He didn’t need much space – just his home office and small storage space to keep a small inventory on hand for emergency we ran out yesterday orders of the most critical items. Then he opened the shop.
He had bigger plans and was already talking with manufacturers about some custom products to better fit the niche, but he started by simply offering better service, competitive prices, and a better understanding of his customers’ needs.
21) Maria Malavenda
The best way to come up with a business idea is to solve an issue that you are experiencing yourself. Surround your self with a team with knowledge on all sides of the issue (in our case, beauty, and technology). Think about what you want your company to do and to become. Then beta-test it.
This is what I did when I moved to San Francisco in 2014 and had the worst time trying to find the best hairstylist to work with my hair type and more importantly, one that I liked and trusted.
I spent hours navigating the social maze, interpreting star recommendations, checking out influencers, and looking at pretty pictures to get the direction I needed. What happened? I learned that 5 stars mean nothing, someone charging $450 for a haircut is no indicator of talent, having an opinion doesn’t make you an expert, and lots of hairstylists haven’t been back for education on the new chemicals and products that have been introduced into the market. Worse -lots of hairstylists operate without a license.
We deserve to be working with someone who is trained to work with our challenges and manage our needs. I understand the importance of a ‘good hair day’ and that our appearance impacts our personal, social and professional lives. This is why I started my company.
22) Amber Vilhauer
In our digitally rich world, online is where to start, of course. I recommend just starting wherever you feel excited and build from there. If you have services or expertise to offer, start a blog. If it’s a product, you can begin with even just a landing page that customers are directed to via a video or social media post.
It’s just a matter of getting content out there, sharing your interest, and most importantly doing it from your unique vantage point. The world is looking for your unique experience so that people can be inspired to shift their thinking in some new way.
Once you’ve started in that seemingly simple but bold and exciting way, ask questions about what people are wanting and let it grow from there. Create a product that services that. Just start sharing. Don’t second guess your thoughts or ideas. There’s value in telling other people about the way that you view the world. Not everyone thinks the way you do, even if you think they do.
To shorten your learning curve for online marketing and exposure, build great relationships. This is crucial! Follow mentors and engage with them. Make mutually beneficial connections. Find strategic partnerships. For example, I work with authors, coaches, and speakers and have aligned myself with a publishing company from which I get client leads, so I’m never wondering where my next client is.
A very easy way to get started with a product or program is just a delivery based email type of program. A few things I usually recommend to my coaching clients:
A) Try an autoresponder program, you opt-in and pay a small fee and then you get an email delivered to your inbox every day for 30 or so days teaching your topic. That type of format could be very effective and you don’t even need a website to start that.
B) In another example with have health and fitness coaches, I suggest to them to pose a two-week challenge for $50. You pay the money and every day, for $50, you receive an email and each day it’s a challenge, say do a plank for 1 minute, or what to eat or some meditation/mindfulness exercise. Each day you have a different challenge so at the end of two weeks you have reached a goal and for your achievement, you have bragging rights, show off results and or get a certificate.
C) Alternatively, a 4-week video-based course. Each video is 10-15 minutes long, and maybe you give homework and an assignment. Each week you deliver an email with the video, homework assignment and pdf workbook. Every week they get that module, you don’t even have to have a website. The video would live on a private YouTube or Vimeo so only those who have paid for access can see it. Or you could embed in website for only those who have
paid can see it.
As you go through all of these steps and grow your audience, it’s imperative that you remain as open as possible, offer a great deal of value and be yourself — don’t go toward something overly scripted or fake. I also recommend incorporating video into every aspect of your business from the outset. It’s a great way to provide a human connection in a digital world, as it allows your audience to get to know you and better guides them through the customer experience.
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