Aspiring entrepreneurs have always wondered how to find that great, winning business idea. Your breakthrough concept is the seed that eventually becomes your successful company. Finding this holy grail is one of the toughest challenges entrepreneurs face in the beginning but thankfully, there is a number of steps you can take to make the process easier.

It is important to understand that in addition to a solid business plan, the success of a company largely depends on your initial concept and hence we recommend you spend as much time as possible to find, uncover and refine a potentially winning business idea. There is no point to launch a venture and engage your time, resources and funds when you have a lousy initial concept or mediocre idea that doesn’t really appeal to customers and buyers.

Professor Karl Ulrich from the University of Pennsylvania explains that the value (V) of a business is function of three main elements: The idea itself (I), the development of the business (D) and exogenous factors (E). All three factors are very important but it is worthy to note that the initial idea (I) is fully under your control. This “VIDE” model clearly shows that since you can judge the quality of a business idea rather easily, it is highly recommended you take your time, go the extra mile and find a winning one.

So this raises an important question: How can we identify a winning business idea with a promising future?

Here are some tips to get you started!

To Find a Winning Business Idea, Assess your Skills First

One way to find a winning business idea is to take a look at the experience and skills you already have. Identifying what you are naturally good at and learning to creatively use you existing skills and talents is a proven way of launching a promising business.

For example, if you have a significant experience as a salesmen or are naturally skilled at selling and convincing others to adopt a certain solution or product, then why not explore the possibility of launching a sales consultancy firm that helps other entrepreneurs and businesses increase their sales skills and in turn grow their revenues? The idea here is to turn what you already know or do into a viable business.

This doesn’t only work for service-oriented business ideas. Here is an example applied to products: Suppose you have good carpentry skills working as a furniture designer in a workshop. We can easily imagine a scenario whereas you creatively employ these manual skills into launching a modern wood furniture company selling ergonomic tables, chairs and office desks online.

The key point here is that sometimes, you don’t need to look very far to find a winning business idea that has a potential to work. Diving into you own experience and existing skills can be one of the easiest yet best places to start with.

Your Winning Business Idea Is…What Customers Really Want

A very effective way to find your next winning business idea is to first study the market demand and assess what customers really want. In fact, there are many ways to gauge if there is a significant need around a certain product or service, and conducting market research, interviews and surveys are probably the most popular means to get answers.

Check our article on the benefits of conducting market research for the full details on this topic. In a nutshell, the key message here is that a winning business idea equates an idea that solves problems. By positioning your value proposition as an effective solution to a particular problem currently experienced by a group of prospects (your future customers), you can be sure that you have dramatically increased the chances of your new company’s success.

Market-driven businesses operate with the customer’s needs in mind and hence you need to assess the market and find gaps that can become potential opportunities and hopefully lucrative business niches.

Come up with a Service or Product that Doesn’t Exist

Talking with people will also help surface some needs that no one is fulfilling at this time. An excellent rule of thumb with this is to come up with solutions that are innovative and different. Granted, this requires a lot of research, but you can obtain an outstanding return on investment by adopting this strategy, widely termed “Blue Ocean Strategy”. This business approach pioneered by two INSEAD professors (Mauborgne and Chan Kim) is a strategy where a company enters a market with very low or no competition as opposed to competing in a Red Ocean, which is the typical market crowded with many competitors.

By leveraging your creative skills, technologies or know-how, you can conceive your own niche and position your company as a pioneer in its space (think Le Cirque du Soleil, a company that re-invented the circus entertainment by replacing animal shows with breathtaking human acrobatics and tableaux)

Study Successful Entrepreneurs and Ventures

Sometimes you can find winning business ideas right in front of you. By studying and modeling businessmen and entrepreneurs who already achieved success in business, you can emulate what they did and replicate it in another geography or different market.

For instance, Souq.com is an ecommerce marketplace that copied the Amazon business model and launched it in the Middle East, at a time when Amazon was still not present in that region. 10 years later, Amazon acquired Souq for $580m. Massive success. You get the idea.

In this day and age, the internet has allowed virtually anyone to closely follow and study successful businessmen and startup founders and get inspiration from them. If you cannot get Richard Branson or Elon Musk to personally mentor you, you can always read their articles or books online, or listen to their interviews on YouTube to get their invaluable tips and advice. Business education and information has never been so available thanks to the internet, make good use of it.

Check your own needs and what you want to be solved

Yes, you might have some needs you need solved, and you should create a solution for those. It makes a lot of sense to use such an approach, and the best part is that everything can be adjusted and customized to suit your requirements.

The key here is to come up with an elegant solution to a problem that you are genuinely experiencing and then submit this solution to a market test to validate it.

The purpose of the market test is to answer the following questions: Are other people also experiencing the same problem? Does my solution also work for them? Can my solution be scaled to a wider audience of potential customers?

Once you have a proof of concept confirming that your solution has a wide appeal and indeed works for others, then congratulations, you are onto a winning business idea and a promising venture.

Analyze Search and Social Media Trends

We live in the digital age that (luckily) offers a plethora of useful tools and resources that were not available in past generations. Among these powerful tools are undoubtedly search engines and social networks with the humongous amount of data, trends and insights that come with them.

First, let’s have a quick look at how you can use search to help you with finding your next winning business idea. You have probably heard about Google Trends or the Keyword Planner. If not, here’s a quick introduction: Google Trends is a free tool by Google that displays the latest users’ search trends in a particular location over time. It displays the results as indexed charts and it is a great tool to visualize what people are currently interested in. It also allows you to compare the popularity of two or more search terms which is quite handy when it comes to measure the popularity of products, brands and other relevant searches against each other.

The Keyword Planner is also a free tool by Google but instead of showing indexed search trends, it actually tells you how many times a certain keywords has been researched in a specific location. To be more accurate, if you are a paying advertiser on Google Search, the Keyword Planner will provide you with exact search volumes. If you are not a paying advertiser on Google Search, the tool will show you search ranges instead.

Both tools are quite useful for gauging the interest of internet users and understanding consumer trends. For example, if you are thinking of launching a new product, you can conduct a keyword research on the Keyword Planner by inputting search terms related to your new product, and then finding out if there is enough search interest around the topic.

On another hand, social media also offers a massive amount of insights and trends that you can tap in to uncover your next winning business opportunity. One way to do that is to use a hashtag search on Twitter or Instagram, and finding out what people are talking about.

The Facebook Ads Manager is another powerful tool that allows you to build an audience using a number of demographic and psychographic criteria (such as specific interests) and simulate the size of your potential target segment. Very powerful and this doesn’t require you to spend even a penny.

We can go on forever explaining the many ways you can use search and social media to help you find and refine your business idea but this is the subject of an entire post.

Finally and to cut the long story short, remember that any data you can collect to help you understand the market needs and come up with a business idea is useful, and digital channels are one of the best places for mining such information.

Find Your Winning Business Concept by Browsing App Categories

How can this help? Sometimes the best ideas come from the strangest places. And that’s why we always recommend you to avoid rushing and focus on the best outcome as much as possible. Did you know that app categories which you can check from your mobile provide a plethora of new business concepts and are a great source of inspiration?

Doing this will allow you to find some exciting ideas, especially when it comes to innovative mobile apps, games and tools which you can emulate, adapt and adjust.

Write down ideas about a particular topic you like every day

Do that daily and you will have dozens of ideas to choose from in just a few days. Obviously, not all ideas will be award-winning, but you might find a goldmine in a bucket of bad ideas. That’s why it’s important to stay creative as much as you can. Use that to your advantage, and try to write down every possible idea that comes to mind, you will certainly enjoy it.

Find a Niche to Resell Products for

Reselling products through eBay and other similar platforms will certainly come in handy. This is a simple business idea, and it can work great if you study the market and know where to get products for low prices. Then you can resell them at a higher price and make a profit. It’s a system that works great for a lot of people, and the results can be excellent.

Study Corporate Job Structures and How they Can be Improved

What you can do here is to check the improvement potential of the core service of a specific business. Additionally, you need to assess the transferability of processes and products too. The main idea is to identify potential services or products that you can offer to help businesses become more productive. And the great thing is that you can do it at your current job.

Conclusion

Finding great and winning business ideas is always going to be challenging and tricky. But the best part is that you are not alone, and you can always come up with amazing results and features. As long as you have the right focus and commitment, you can make great things happen. Use these tips, and don’t hesitate to brainstorm as much as you can. All the little things can make a huge difference, it all comes down to researching, generating ideas, and then iterating on them. You never know where a simple idea can go, so you should start brainstorming and then going on from there.