3 Ways to Discover a Business Idea That Works

There are plenty of good business ideas floating around, and not all of them are unique. In fact, new companies successfully go to market in saturated industries all the time, and most aren’t especially disruptive.

Some just take advantage of a humongous market. Entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space, for instance, know that people will always be hungry and thirsty. Most consumers have countless options to choose from when they want to meet these basic needs, but if a new product stands out, whether because of superior taste, branding or nutrition, they’ll often reach for it.

Or take the multibillion-dollar market for razors.

1. Listen in on social media chatter.

Social media is a great place to discover consumer pain points and needs. You may not be ready to pursue a business idea tomorrow, but you’d be wise to insert yourself into social media communities related to areas you’re passionate about today. Join or start a Facebook group, or look for a subreddit in your area of expertise. Search hashtags or keywords associated with your industry and interests. Instead of scrolling past people’s complaints on social media, stop to read them. You never know when a trend could become visible or an idea could strike.

2. Dwell on your own problems.

Restaurants and grocery stores relieve hunger pangs, and entertainment companies banish boredom. People’s lives are full of needs and problems, so entrepreneurs looking for a business idea should spend some time contemplating everything that’s wrong with their lives — seriously. Write a list of all your daily woes, and ask your friends to contribute theirs as well.


3. Do future you a favor.

Elon Musk is probably the most recognizable entrepreneur on the planet. Love him or hate him, no one can deny he’s prolific when it comes to starting companies. You’re probably not the next Elon Musk, and you don’t have to be. But you can learn something from the way he approaches business.


Musk thinks about the biggest challenges humanity will face in the future and brainstorms solutions. This colossal-picture approach led to PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and other mind-boggling ventures, and it has also made him a pretty wealthy man. If trying to wrap your head around the fate of the human race makes you feel a little dizzy, start by just thinking about your own future. What problems is the world likely to throw at you down the road? If these same problems seem to apply to more people than just you, they might be the ones you need to begin solving.

Entrepreneurs should take comfort knowing that viable ideas can come from anywhere. Most of these ideas won’t be earth-shattering, but some may be. Follow the steps above, and you just might discover the one that could launch your business.