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5 ways to tell if your business idea will fly

While ideas can spring from anywhere, it takes someone with a good business nose to smell a golden opportunity when it comes. You only need an open mind when keeping an eye on trends so you don't miss out on that winning concept.
By Gerry Baclagon |

Idea. That's the first thing that an aspiring entrepreneur must have to make that leap from being an employee to becoming one's own boss. But ideas are never easy to come by. While ideas can spring from anywhere, it takes someone with a good business nose to smell a golden opportunity as it comes. You only need an open mind when keeping an eye on trends so you don't miss out on that winning concept. The following are the usual places to look for business ideas:

1. Books and bookstores. Fortunately for aspiring entrepreneurs, books on business opportunities in different industries abound these days. When you're in the bookstore ask  the sales people which titles and topics are popular, and therefore are selling well. Topics on growing markets are typical sure draws giving you an idea where to focus your search.

2. Magazines like Entrepreneur, where you can learn from other entrepreneurs and find inspiration.

3. Newspapers. Read between the lines when you are reading a newspaper. Current events inspire you to think of a business you can start. Advertisements will also tell you what other companies are doing and on what target audience they are focusing their attention. Check which industry sectors advertise more and what their approach is from the marketing aspect. Look at any new sections or columns. What topics are being talked about? Your aim should be try to find out what's hot in the market and whether there is a need that you can fill.

4. Trade shows and conventions. Attending these will give you an opportunity to examine potential competitors' products and services and find out their strengths and weaknesses. It will also give you a chance to learn product and market trends, and meet possible suppliers or sales representative.

Assessing business ideas is an essential skill for any aspiring entrepreneur. After all, if you’re going to risk everything in a new business, it's crucial to start with a viable concept. How do you evaluate a business idea? It takes practice. For starters, you may visit an establishment in your neighborhood that's doing the same business you're planning to put up. By observing customer traffic to the establishment, estimate how much the business is making in a day. What would be its average sales in a month? Who are its usual customers, and how much would be its operating expenses? What are the business's strengths and weaknesses? How can this business be conducted differently?

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It's all about having an entrepreneurial frame of mind. Even if it is 'none of your business', so to speak, it is a good idea to habitually study other actual business models and learn from them," suggests Ricky Cuna, owner of Fiorgelato chain of ice cream stores.

By being an "armchair entrepreneur,"you can sharpen your skills at identifying good business ideas from the bad. It would also help to read business publications that tell of entrepreneurial success stories and basket cases.

It pays to learn the good and the bad side of entrepreneurship. Doing these regularly will develop your skill at being able to separate the grain from the chaff. Over time, finding out whether or not your idea would fly would be easy.  Here are a few reminders when evaluating business ideas:

1. Sleep on it

Don't be quick in quitting your day job just because your idea bulb flashed. Sometimes, that great idea you thought of yesterday might not make sense after thinking it through."Although I would always say that 'yesterday is the best time to start a business,' I would discourage anyone from being too eager. The qualifier is that it must be a good business idea. There are issues that must be considered first before your idea makes the grade," says Cuna.


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