10 Steps Entrepreneurs Use For Great Business Ideas

Conducting The Search For The Best Business Ideas

Is it an art form, a science, or is it a bit of both? Coming up with great business ideas is something that looks so easy when you’re looking at someone else’s business. When, oftentimes, the process they went through to get to where you encountered them was a tedious and involved proposition.

Why, because most entrepreneurs don’t settle on the very first idea they come up with.

The idea develops and grows while incorporating more supporting ideas along the way. It’s like the first idea is the first of many breadcrumbs on a trail of discovery. Eventually, the business concept transforms and looks very different from the original.

If you talk to any entrepreneur they’ll talk about this process like an incubation period between the moment of inspiration and initial execution.

Most of us only get to see a version of the finished product where entrepreneurs have come out the other side of this period with a business in their hands.

So, we asked the question, how does an entrepreneur come up with a multi-million dollar business idea?

Many of us make discoveries through observation in our everyday life. We recognize a solution to a problem that we think others will want to have solved too. Then, we start with some modest market testing.

We socialize the idea with people around us, and even strangers in a coffee shop, asking them what they think of the idea.

There’s also a familiar tool we ask the same question. We all turn to this tool daily to find information in times like these – a search engine.

In the US alone there are nearly 600,000 searches every month on search engines where people are looking for business ideas. There are also 94 common questions found on the web as well…here are a few.


Business Ideas Question Wheel
Business Ideas Question Wheel – Credit: Answer The Public


Who are these searchers and what are they looking for? Maybe they’re in search of small business ideas that can grow into life altering moments.

We reviewed all the search queries we could find on the topic and found that there were 170 different queries (click here to download the list) that were searched regularly. We broke these into 3 categories and sub-categories of business ideas to better understand what people are looking for.

  1. The Heat Map
  2. The Familiar
  3. The Motivated

The Heat Map: Business Ideas At the intersection of the head and the heart


The idea seekers in this category tend to have a measure of resources at the ready and are looking for the perfect concept. They are looking for visual confirmation of where they see an opportunity that matches their capabilities. This group typically finds themselves looking in these three areas:

  1. Cutting edge and creative business ideas – This group is full of innovators and risk-takers that are looking for a bit of inspiration to build upon. They are avid observers of their surroundings and students of other problem solvers. Many of these entrepreneurs are confident in their abilities and are looking to win big with more speculative investments.
  2. Proven business models – These are the more judicious with their resources and lean a bit further away from risk. Though, many in this group seem to have an idea in their mind of what direction they may want to go, but they’re in search of a bit of validation. This is where you’ll most readily find the question ‘askers’ and the relationship builders.
  3. Currently trending businesses – This group has a mix of serious and more on-the-fence window shoppers that may be willing to act if something remarkable strikes their interest.

The Familiar: Where skills mixed with confidence outgrow employment

The Familiar is a category where skills and experience are highly influential to the ideator.

One of the things one of the best books on the on this topic is the The E Myth Book by Michael E. Gerber.  In the book he discusses the challenges that come when startups are born from, “technicians having entrepreneurial seizures.”

This is where you’ll find someone like an experienced an even talented line cook that has aspirations to open their own restaurant. Then, they come to a realization. They find that they are doing less of their of their passion and have to learn new skills and muscle memory. This is a very real challenge.

This group is looking for more information to build a business around their skills and experience. This could be starting a store with a physical location, maybe an online business, or even a tech startup. In any case, there are two important lessons this group ends up learning:

  1. How to be a great team builder and hire where they’re weak.
  2. Not to ignore core responsibilities vital to their business health.

The Motivated: Change wanted…dead or alive

Final category is that of the motivated. These are the change seekers.

They are motivated or inspired to exit where they are and make a change their life. This could be for a number of reasons such as more money, or for work-life balance, or for freedom in their life. But, whatever the reason, all of them require change management and there are a many factors to consider.

It’s here that we find we see people looking for a side gig to startup or what we like to call the “solo-preneur”. The side gig gives two benefits:

  1. Extra money to invest toward a full-time startup
  2. Some runway for experimentation

Many in this group are looking for lists of top business ideas and want to shop from a menu of sorts. They’re looking for inspiration of businesses that exist or are looking to read in between the lines for the one’s that do not exist yet. These are the ones looking for low-cost high-reward opportunities and are looking to do it with him more velocity then some of the other groups.

The question is…which one are you?

Well, no matter which one you are here are 10 steps we use to coach new entrepreneurs to find their business idea.

A 10-step approach to finding a great business idea

You may find yourself to be an entrepreneur in search of the right idea. No matter what group you may be in currently knowing where to start is a big deal. There are some consistent themes that we’ve found to zero in on the right concept. Here is a 10-step approach finding and pre-vetting a great business idea:

  1. Document your personal motivations for starting a business…the why. If you find yourself running from something rather than running to something…stop and rethink
  2. Write down 3 business ideas that you could see yourself starting
  3. Next to each idea write down the problem you’re going to solve (or the market need you’ll seek to meet) and who you’re doing it for
  4. Ask yourself, the friend you respect most, your most transparent family member, a work peer, and a work leader (or qualified mentor) the following questions:
    • What is my most notable skill?
    • If I were to start a business what kind of people would I need to surround myself with?
    • What is my biggest blind spot when it comes to what you know of my work?
    • If there was one type of business could you see me running what would it be and why?
  5. Record their responses (seriously…write them down)
  6. Stand back and squint….see where there may be connections to your original thinking
  7. Begin researching each business idea mentioned and prioritize by interest high to low
  8. Find a match between passion, available resources, risk tolerance, and market viability or demand
  9. Then, ignore all the negativity encountered along the way and…pick your idea
  10. Start to plan your transition…counting the cost is a great place to start followed by estimated time horizons

Keep in mind that there are many key components to starting and building a healthy business. Here’s a little something that might help when trying to figure out how to start a small business.

In so many cases the discovery of the right idea sets the trajectory toward failure, modest success, or even wild success. That moment of origin is where the most interesting part of your future business story begins.

So, make it count.

Did you try those 10 steps? Well, we decided to build a business idea generator. It’s a forever free tool filled with over 2,000 ideas across 300+ industries to help budding entrepreneurs find the right business idea. Try the business idea generator to look for your personalized recommendation, try something fun with a random idea, or explore the entire list until your heart’s content. 

Find Your Right Idea. Use Our Forever Free Idea Generator.
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