“I wish I’d thought of that!”
Have you ever had that thought when you see something online or in a store that catches your eye and fires your imagination?
Well, that’s how it started. Someone had an idea. Then developed that idea through different processes right through to its final implementation.
Most of the time, ideation doesn’t start with an idea. It starts with a problem, or the search for a solution to the problem. This can be done alone or in collaborative brainstorming sessions. It will require a disciplined approach which should include research or knowledge on customer needs, the market environment, budget constraints and other factors.
Here are some idea-generating tips to use for your small business ideas.
Do Keyword Research
Keyword suggestion tools, such as Ubersuggest, can quickly help you turn a group of words into a thought-firing conversation. Just enter a keyword and get a list of all the search phrases associated with it!
Pretend you’re a wedding cake designer. By typing “wedding cake” into Ubersuggest’s search box, you’ll get 359 keyword suggestions. Some are unhelpful (wedding cakes Brisbane probably won’t do you much good if you live in Durban) but others, such as “wedding cake prices, “wedding cake with flowers” or “wedding cake gone wrong” can spark an idea for your business.
Browse the Forums
Do you follow industry-specific forums? You should! These can be a goldmine for ideation. What are people talking about? What questions are they asking? What frustrations do they have? Any of these user-generated posts can spur an idea.
Q&A sites, like Quora and Yahoo Answers, can also help generate some idea starting points.
Just enter a keyword, industry or phrase, and you’ll have hundreds of topics to crawl through.
Use Social Media
Ask the right questions (without giving the idea away!). You have many different and interesting people on your various platforms. See what the want. What they think. Use your social media networks to spur conversations around the topic of your idea or business.
Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
Think how your customers think. Think about their reaction to every aspect of your product or service. Interrogate your idea from every angle. What questions would you have for yourself? What information would you need to decide to become your own customer?
Also, use a mix of left brain and right brain techniques. Most businesses require both creative and pragmatic ideas. No idea should ever be too wild, or too analytical, to be considered.
Once you have sifted through all your ideas and settled on the one you consider to be the winner, go out and test it. Make adjustments if required. Keep testing it until you believe it to be perfected. Now it’s time to move from ideation to implementation.