Generating a Business Idea

The First Step

Our first course is focused on creating an Internet business, but not just any business, your business.  In the classes, we walk through the technical parts of the process.  However, to get to the building step, one first has to know what the business should become.  For example, saying you want to build a house is too vague.  The house that is built for you will not match the vision in your head.  In the same sense, saying you want to start a business is just as vague.  Any business starts with an idea, more precisely, a problem to solve.  Let’s take some steps to help generate a business concept for you.

Sources of Ideas for Your Business

In starting a business, it is always best to go with what you know and like. Some places to look for inspiration:

  • Your Hobbies
  • Your Job
  • Things you spend a lot of time with (Eating, Watching TV, Nature Hikes, knitting, cats, etc.)
  • Mundane things in your life (house chores, paying bills, groceries, etc.)

These are areas where you probably have a good deal of experience.  The best products come from your drive to solve the problem or things you enjoy doing.  Thus, I listed hobbies first.  These are the things you enjoy.  They will bring a continued sense of joy if you can make a living working in, or with, your hobby.  Once you have a hobby or two in mind, let’s think about your typical day or week.  What would you like to do more?

Things you want to avoid will not bring you joy, but touch a different emotion.  Solving these problems may give you the fulfillment of helping others.  They might also be something you despise so much that eliminating them brings you joy.  For example, a housekeeper might enjoy cleaning because they grew up in a dirty or messy home and just removing that experience for others brings joy.

Finding a Problem to Solve

Now you have an area or two to consider on a broad scale.  Look at what would add to the experience (for things you enjoy), and things to reduce the experience (for things you do not enjoy).  If you watch a lot of television, do you want a better way to find a schedule of your favorite shows?  Maybe you spend a lot of time visiting sick relatives and would love better ways to get good food.  Someone that enjoys baseball may look for more ways to relive games.  Thus, look for the means to turn your wants into solutions.

The options are truly limitless.  Focus on a single product, a range of goods, or a service.  Once you come up with an idea, that becomes your core product/service.  Look for ways to spend more time on tasks you like or less time on those you don’t.  Blogging is an excellent example of the first option.  You like a subject, and you write about it regularly.  Dan Carlin loves history and creates podcasts about it at  He now spends more time doing what he loves.  Automation is a great way to reduce time doing tasks you prefer not to do.  You can see an example of this with Grammarly.  Why look up grammar rules all the time when you have an app that can do that for you?

Monetizing the Idea

Using your core product or service idea as a focus, consider your situation.  Would you be willing to pay to use or have access to it?  You may not feel it would be worth paying for directly.  Hardcore history that we mentioned earlier raises money through Amazon ads and asking for “a buck a show.”  The request a donation or tip approach leaves it up to each listener to give if they like the product.  

When charging or asking for donations doesn’t fit, consider whether you would be willing to support advertisers to use the product.  Revenue could come from actions as simple as regularly visiting a free website or listing.  On the other hand, it could include clicking on a paid advertisement.  There is also the option of acting as curator of goods for those with similar interests.  The curator approach would be similar to being a secret shopper, but you get paid for the people you direct to the business.

The answer you give will help you decide the direction you need to go with the core idea.  You can either sell it directly or use it as a form of marketing that allows you to charge advertisers.  A great example is the blogging industry where people offer their opinions for free.  Then they hope that enough people care about their opinion to visit the blog on a regular basis and thus allow the blogger to bring in advertisers. It is hard to find a blog that charges readers since no one’s thoughts seem to be worth paying for directly, but it is worth supporting sponsors.  Over the long run, other opportunities like books and training may allow a side business to grow into the only job you have.  There are a lot of examples of this at the smart passive income site and on their podcasts.

Get Rich Quick?

You can get through these steps in a few hours, or it may take weeks to get to this point.  These first steps are only the beginning.  Creating a business, even a side/hobby one can take months or years.  The good news is that the Internet has made it a lot easier to connect to niche groups and to get your products and services in front of customers faster than ever before.  Revenue from affiliates and ads can start on day one and provide a way to bootstrap your growth.

If this article has piqued your interest, and you have an idea to turn into a business, consider our Launching an Internet Business introductory course as a way to grow your tech skills and start a business all at the same time.  

For some more ideas:
Passive Income: Four Beginner Business Models to Start Creating Passive Income Online (Passive Income Streams, Online Startup, Make Money Online, Financial Freedom)

If you want some great motivation as well as ideas this is a favorite of ours.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

If you think you can’t build a business, listen to this TED talk.  The last few minutes are perfect for you:

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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