Hey, what can I get you?
Ahh … I’d like a coffee, please.
Siphon, cold-drip, pour over?
Ummm … sure?
Ahh … how about a regular coffee to go?
Coffee dude tosses me a foggy glance and walks away — presumably to get my unenlightened order.
As he delivers my substandard coffee order, I ask if they sell donuts or bagels.
Blank stare … we only sell locally made, organic, raw bars. And they’re all gluten-free, of course.
I grab my coffee, head to the cream and lids across the room. As I pour cream into my coffee I think, who the hell decided to start this business, and why did she decide not to sell doughnuts?
This is not an unusual thought for me, and you probably have this same thought on occasion. It’s part of what makes us entrepreneurs.
Almost every business I interact with I find myself wondering what their revenues are, how much profit they make, and what their business model is.
Perhaps I’m odd, but likely you are too.
Start moving before you’re ready
Coming up with online business ideas doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it doesn’t happen when you are standing still. As you try out ideas, start things, shut things down, and pivot, you move closer to your new business idea.
Deciding what business to start is like jumping onto a merry-go-round — you don’t want to be standing still when you make the leap, or you could lose an arm.
You need to be in motion to get in on the fun. Coming up with your best business ideas is the same concept. Momentum breeds momentum, and motion is what will enable you to start your own business.
The same way the kid in the playground runs beside the merry-go-round before jumping on with his friends, you need to be in motion first.
When you are in motion, ideas and opportunities appear. When you are standing still waiting for the perfect business idea, you get left behind and miss out on the action.
Starting a business vs. making money
Wait, aren’t these the same thing?
Yes and no.
Not all businesses are created equally. Some ideas will take longer than others to enter the marketplace, build an MVP, and become profitable — if profitability ever happens.
If you need to be profitable right now, then you need to think more about making money than you do about starting a business.
Hustle, get some cash flow and forward momentum going, then use your momentum to jump onto the merry-go-round and join in the fun.
The fastest way to do this is to start freelancing.
I don’t care who you are — you have skills required by other people. Skills that hold value.
Take your skills and find clients through personal connections, social media, or a freelance marketplace.
On the other hand, if you don’t need to create an income source immediately then you are ready to start a business.
Choose a niche or pick a big market?
Yes. Let me clarify.
You need to niche down enough to define who your audience is, then stop. Niche down just enough to know your audience, but no further.
This doesn’t mean you should start a business within a tiny market.
It is easier to build a well-defined business in a big market than it is to build one within a tiny niche market.
Think of it in terms of market size and not ‘how hard’ it might be for you to get started.
Would you rather have 1% of a $100,000,000 market or 87% of a $10,000 market?
The math doesn’t lie. You want the one percent stake in the larger market.
Stop thinking of it as a choice between a small niche and a big market. Instead, aim to find your niche (or positioning) within an already existing big market.
Why you should avoid unique business ideas
How many times have you had a brilliant idea for a new business or product, headed over to Google, only to find your idea already exists?
Your excitement immediately turns to dread. Followed by the voice in your head.
What if you don’t have any good business ideas? What if you aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur?
The next time this happens, here’s a better question to ask yourself:
Deciding to start a business is hard enough and the deck is already stacked against your success. Don’t make it harder on yourself.
Start your business where others have already had success. You will not only increase your chances of success, but you will have a proven roadmap to follow.
In 2015, Laura Roeder was educating people on how to effectively use social media in their small businesses. Then she had an idea to turn her social media scheduling processes into a piece of software.
At the time, there were two serious competitors in this market. In fact, one of them had monthly recurring revenues of $600,000 (now over $1 million).
The competition did not stop Laura from moving ahead and starting Edgar.
In fact, Laura believed a certain number of customers who already pay for a product in her market would pay for hers.
She was right.
Within 18 months, Laura had taken Edgar to $150,000 in monthly revenue and has continued to grow it since then.
This is a simple mindset shift you need to make. Think of competition as proof of concept, not as a barrier to entry.
When you can enter your market knowing that there are already people willing to pay to have a problem solved, you are starting with an enormous advantage.
The best business ideas
Don’t sit around waiting for a brilliant idea to fall into your lap. That’s not how it works.
Just as we can create our own luck by putting ourselves in the way of opportunities, we can stop waiting and look around us for business ideas and opportunities.
Every product or service you use on a daily basis can and should become a business opportunity for you to ponder.