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The art of developing a great business idea

 While business ideas are a dime a dozen, finding the right one for you is a different kettle of fish (Photo: iStock)

You want to start a business but you don't have an idea yet. Finding your niche in business is probably the most important and challenging first step. While business ideas are a dime a dozen, finding the right one for you is a different kettle of fish.

You have to consider how much money you have, the needs of your target customers, your skill set, the availability of investors, and many other factors. However, you too can come up with the next multi-million-shilling business idea.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you come up with profitable business ideas:


Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of starting a new business because they think that an idea is cool. While "cool" might impress your buddies, it doesn't make for a truly successful business idea. Instead, think about solving problems. They don't have to be big problems that require big solutions. Even solving small problems can make you plenty of money.

Think about the problems that you and the people around you have. Do you and most people around you have trouble finding educational toys for kids? Then a business idea to solve that specific problem might be profitable. You can either design educational toys for kids - which is what Lego did to become the number one toy company worldwide. Or you can create a smaller solution by sourcing educational toys and selling them online or in brick-and-mortar shops.

All the successful businesses you see today have achieved their success by responding to their customer's needs. Train your mind to see problems around you and create solutions and you'll have won half the battle of becoming a successful entrepreneur.


A great business idea doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. As the good book states, there's nothing new under the sun. When you think of a business idea, whether it's a product or a service, you probably won't be the first person it has occurred to.

Many entrepreneurs dismiss great ideas because they're not original. If an idea is good, there will be competition. And if there's no competition, it is coming soon enough. Remember, Google wasn't the first search engine and Facebook wasn't the first social media network. Instead of focusing on how to be original, focus on being better. You can provide similar products or services to other businesses, but become more successful by becoming the better option. That's what made Google and Facebook the success stories they're today.

 You can turn a hobby into a business (Photo: iStock)


If you've travelled or lived abroad, you've probably come across products and services that are not yet available in your home country. Which simple product or service impressed you the most? Are you able to replicate it at home? Looking abroad for inspiration can help you discover wonderful products or services that haven't been marketed locally - or even a new way of presenting existing products.

For example, the first Kenyan entrepreneurs to invest in the mobile toilet business were replicating an idea they'd seen abroad. The industry turned out to be an untapped goldmine. When you are abroad, keep an eye out for innovative ideas - you might be the one to spot the next multi-million-shilling idea to bring to your local market. In addition, be on the lookout for simple things that make for a better customer experience. Even making small tweaks to already existing ideas can have a significant impact on your profit margins.


Using your skills in an entirely new field can open you up to great business ideas. For example, you can use your training in mechanical engineering to create toys for children. Or you can use your knowledge as a doctor to design a product or service for patients.

Innovative ideas occur when there's an intersection of disciplines. Think of people outside your industry and how your set of skills can help them. That might lead you to a truly innovative and profitable business idea.


Tying back to the idea of taking inspiration from abroad, make an effort to have more experiences so as to come up with great business ideas. Your next big idea is unlikely to occur to you if you limit your life to a boring routine.

The more you go out of your way to experience new things and meet new people, the more your scope of potential business ideas will expand. For example, when you go out to music concerts, you might realise that there's a problem concerning concert-goers that you can solve.

Experiences are not limited to real life. You can even come across big ideas by reading widely, watching TV shows, following news stories, and seeking out interesting ideas. Be curious about the world around you and you'll come up with great business ideas.


Do you have a hobby that keeps you busy over the weekend or in the evenings? You could also turn it into a successful business. For example, if you love baking cakes for your friends and family and are quite good at it, you might be able to make a successful business out of it.

Hobbies that can easily become businesses include writing, baking, cooking, making jewellery, making crafts and so on. When you start from something that you know, you will enjoy the process all the more. However, think carefully before turning your hobby into a business - the activity may become less enjoyable when you have to respond to customer demands to pay bills.

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