Where do you find great business ideas?

I did a Tweet the other day about small business and ideas. We often complicate the generation of business ideas unnecessary, as we believe innovation and solutions are out there… and we are here. 

For this reason, I decided to explore idea creation and problem solving processes in this post. I believe the principles are universal – for startups, small businesses and side hustles.

Positioning yourself for great business ideas

Make sure you positioning yourself for greatness. 

Consider the people you hang out with. Stay clear of people that shoot down your ideas, break your spirit and leave you dazed and confused. Surround yourself with the type of people that you want to become.

It is also highly recommended to keep an ideas journal. This could consist of drawings, graphs, charts, bullet points or just notes. Creative ideas take shape in strange places, including in the shower, in a business meeting or while researching a tough coding problem. 

What evokes emotion?

We all have things we enjoy – this might range from drinking coffee, coding to making magwinya (vetkoek). We also have things that make us want to jump off cliffs – these could include shopping, bad service, negativity or terrible food.

Emotion is a powerful driver in finding ideas that can be monetised into a side hustle, small business or even into a tech startup. I see it as a nail sticking out of a table that scratches everytime you touch it.

Matching your business idea to your passions and talents

It doesn’t help if your idea doesn’t match your passions and talents. Write down all your passions and talents – what do you enjoy doing, what are you good at?

When your idea is converted into a money-making business, you would be required to spend countless hours on it.  It thus makes sense that you align these with who you are.

Consider the following channels of discovery:

  • If you have not done so, I recommend doing personality tests (such as 16 personalities).
  • Draw up a grid of skills, talents, passions and interests. 
  • Connect with lines where these overlap.

Networking and business ideas

The power of your business is directly linked to your success. Remember – making money is about people. It’s about adding value to them. 

Don’t underestimate the power of surrounding yourself with people that are more knowledgable than yourself. They will bring wisdom and insights into your idea. Do not be afraid to share your idea. 

Eric Ries said in the Lean Startup that the fear of sharing an idea is unfounded – “If your idea can be stolen that quickly, it is not a great idea”.

Take the time to build your network and position yourself around the right people. Consider the playing field – your industry, clients and potential business customers. These should give you an idea about where you need to be steering your online presence and friendships.

Mastermind and innovation groups

It is worth looking into joining a group dedicated to innovation and change. These people tend to become friends, as they are kept accountable to each other. 

Having brainstorming sessions with a few friends might also be worth it!

Leveraging your resources for success

Resources is not only money, it includes time and education. 

Though I fully believe that anyone can start a business with very little money, some businesses require more resources. Understand what resources you require and what you need to have to make this work. 

In some cases, you might have the technology available at your disposal but need the application. Discover what you need and fill that need. 

Discovering what customers want

Many founders do not have an idea of what customers want. This is normal. Even more people don’t have an idea yet – and that is okay. 

When you have trouble coming up with a valid idea, we should consider positioning ourselves closer to potential problems. Seeing what customers do will assist us in finding a solution to a problem that we have not yet identified. 

Horst Rittle explained about wicked problems – these are problems that can only be solved, time estimated and understood by doing. Do not be afraid to start doing – just keep track of how much time and effort you are putting into it. 

Keep track at what point it becomes unviable to pursue something.


Coming up with an idea is challenging. Getting started by writing down what evokes emotion as well as what skills, abilities and talents are available to you. 

Having a co-founder does help, but it is recommended leveraging your network, but is not essential to success. 

Do not let an idea just sit there. You need to grow it. It is recommended to validate your idea through the build-measure-learn cycle – you don’t want to build something no one wants!

Simply be effective.

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