We'll Drink to That!

Think About It

Keep your eyes peeled--the perfect business idea is out there. Wondering how you can get a smart idea of your own? There are three categories of ways to get brainstorming about business ideas:

1. Update an old idea. Often, you can find a workable business by taking an old idea and putting a new spin on it. Ask yourself, Is there a business idea that used to exist and doesn't any longer? Is there a way you can update an old idea and roll it out to a new audience? Ask your older relatives if there is a business or service they remember from their childhood that could be dusted off and reintroduced.

2. Find something that has worked somewhere else. On business trips to Europe, Howard Schultz of Starbucks noticed how Italians spent hours in cafes sipping coffee. He imported the idea of cafes to the United States. The next time you visit a new place, keep your eyes open. You just might stumble across the perfect business.

When you relocate to a new area, look around to see what's missing. Or, if you're jealous of a particularly successful business already in your area, why not move where it doesn't yet exist and establish one yourself? Not every business idea travels well, so be sure to put aside your own feelings for the product or service and examine it from a business standpoint.

3. Refocus a big idea for a specialized market. Break off a piece of a big market and refocus it to a different audience. For example, one entrepreneur noticed the popularity of frozen meals for adults, so she developed a line of frozen meals targeted to kids.

Read anything you can about big business. Whenever you run across an item that interests you, take a hard look at that category and ask yourself, What if I took a similar business and tweaked it to make it more special for a niche audience?

Reprinted from Niche and Grow Rich: Practical Ways to Turn Your Ideas Into a Business (Entrepreneur Press) by Jennifer Basye Sander and Peter Sander

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This article was originally published in the April 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: We'll Drink to That!.

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