Every successful company starts with an idea by an entrepreneur with a dream. While it’s easy to have a dream, it’s not so easy to come up with a business idea that will turn into a sustainable company.
If only it were as easy as it looks! When we see others who are crushing it in their business, those of us that have yet to come up with our big idea is left to wonder.
“How did they do that?”
While there is not just one way to come up with a business idea, we can learn from others who have done it and had success scaling.
Recently, I caught up with four entrepreneurs who have what they and many others believe to be a winning business idea.
Here’s what they shared with me about their creative process behind developing the idea for their business.
Solve one fundamental problem
Mark Denham CEO | Source Workspace LLC
After selling my distribution business to a larger competitor in July 2016, I wanted to do something where I could leave my fingerprint on the earth and feel like I was having a positive impact on the environment.
The driving force behind my passion has always been to take one problem and turn it into a beautiful, useful solution. However, the problem must be real and the solution must truly solve it. The number one reason startups fail is that their business doesn’t actually solve any problems in the market.
What I discovered is the prevalence of low panels (or no panels), smaller workstation footprints, open ceilings, and hard-surface floors have created significant sound problems in many of today’s offices. There is a total lack of privacy in workspaces today, and I was looking for a solution to the open plan environments to provide soundproof, private module spaces.
I set forth to solve this problem by combining ready-made kit-modular-room construction methods with recycled materials. We thought we could hand companies powerful tools to rapidly change their spaces to meet any need that may arise. Each of our modular privacy rooms has over 2,000 recycled water bottles in its acoustical wall panels.
Find a co-founder who can push your idea forward
How often do we have an idea where we can’t quite figure out a piece of it but that piece of the pie is what’s missing in order to make the idea a success? In this case, you need to consider finding a co-founder.
When looking for a co-founder, don’t go for someone who has your skill set; rather, find someone who has talent where you lack it and vice versa.
Larry was in the real estate and mortgage business for 27 years ending in 2015. He was looking to get into a new field and always loved the “money” business, so after a few months of doing all of his due diligence, he decided that the Small Business Lending field was perfect. It was a growing field, bank lending to small business had been on the decline for many years, and he had some new ideas to bring to the current industry.
Larry’s product knowledge along with Max’s marketing skills formed a great combination for success in the industry. Whether one has a unique idea for a new product or service or has a new twist on an existing product or service, it often helps to have a partner in the business who can help with the creative process, helping bring it to market in a way that would not have been possible going solo.
Become an expert and you will see the world differently
Bogdan Radu, Founder and CEO | FIPSI (Flying Innovative Personal Space Icon)
I hold a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and have over 30 years of experience with major aerospace OEMs in developing new technologies for aircraft and engines.
All of that experience has allowed me to see the world through a different lens. I developed my idea while doing the dishes. I started twisting the plates around in the air at different angles rotating them up and down. The more I played with them, the more ideas began flooding to my brain. Yes, my wife thought I was crazy. But it was right then that I had the idea for a flying car.
Being in the kitchen, you might expect to invent a new type of plate, sharper knife, or a new type of appliance, not a new revolutionary transportation vehicle. FIPSI will be the vehicle able to perform as a car and a helicopter. You see, while doing the dishes, I saw the plates become the pivoting rotors that my vehicle will use to take off or land from anywhere without the need for a runway.
I decided to create a unique UNSTOPPABLE vehicle by using the existing well-known technologies but packaging them together in a different way that nobody has ever thought of. Once you become an expert in your field, you see the possibilities that other people cannot identify.
Use consumer testing and data to uncover the true market opportunity
Jeff Engel, CEO | Snacktops
Our idea changed after we performed consumer testing on our target market. Once we had the data we needed, we were able to refine our idea to ensure a higher chance of success.
What we discovered is that people have changed from eating three main meals a day to now snacking throughout the day. The food service industry now looks at eating periods by what is called “day-parts,” and there are five to seven snacking “day-parts.”
The industry knows that 91% of people will snack at least once during one of those day-parts every day. The industry has been good about pairing items together such as yogurt and granola in a flip cup or cheese and salami paired together, but ultimately consumers were not buying more but rather switching from one food item to the other.
We learned through our consumer testing that if we paired a snack with a beverage with Snacktops packaging, 31% bought additional food items because of the utility and merchandising effect of Snacktops packaging. The consumers stopped switching products and just added an item to what they were purchasing. Being armed with this data made entering the market so much easier. We were able to show our customers that we would be able to increase their sales.
The margin for error so low in startups. So, without taking the time to do consumer testing, our idea would not have been the right fit for the market and we would have been headed down a road toward failure. Having your business idea backed by data gives you more confidence that you are entering the market with a product or service that has a much higher chance of success.