How can I develop start up ideas that work?

6 min read
Will Stevens

Starting a business is many people's dream, the thought of becoming your own boss is highly appealing.

Of course in reality, only a small percentage of the dreamers will go on to set up their own company.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks on the road to setting up your own business is coming up with a start up idea that works.

In this guide, we'll dispel some of the myths that surround the process of developing a start up idea to increase your chances of thinking of a winning idea.

Start up ideas don't have to be unique

One of the biggest mistakes people make when thinking up business ideas is trying to come up with something completely new.

Although coming up with a game-changing idea, selling your business for £1 billion and then retiring is a nice fantasy, the reality is that most businesses are based on ideas that are already-established.

Think how many marketing agencies there are, for example. Or tutoring businesses. Or even plumbers.

Although it's great if you can think of a ground-breaking start up idea, if you can't don't let that put you off starting a business.

Being first isn't always best

Remember MySpace? It was the first social network to rise to global prominence, and then it was superseded by Facebook. And now it looks like Facebook's future isn't assured.

Things change. People adopt different habits. Companies develop different, better offerings than their rivals.

Don't obsess about being the first person to launch your particular start up idea (not least because, as we've already discussed, coming up with such an idea is hard). Instead, focus on launching a business based on an idea that works.

Even if you have competitors who launch their business before you, if what you're doing works you'll still have a very strong chance of success.

Competition isn't a bad thing

Speaking of competition, some would-be business owners can find it off putting. And although it's true that you're unlikely to start a business that will successfully go toe-to-toe with Amazon, in a lot of cases competition is a sign that your idea one that's worth pursuing.

Solving a problem isn't enough

Many great business ideas stem from solving a problem that the founder faced, but just because your idea solves a problem you face that doesn't mean it's a good business idea.

It may be that not enough people face the same problem to make your idea a viable business, or it might not be a problem people are willing to pay to solve (or if they are willing to pay, they might not pay  enough to make your business profitable.)

So don't just rely on your problem-solving idea on its own.

An idea on its own isn't enough

Even though many people get fixated on coming up with an idea, it's not the be-all and end-all of starting a business.

As the last two points have suggested, you need to understand if there's a market for your idea. To do that you'll need to conduct market research and draw up a business plan. Doing so will help you understand if the business you want to start has any chance of success.

An idea doesn't have to come first

If you're waiting for inspiration, then you could be waiting a very long time. Ideas have to be sparked by something and usually that something is either experience or research, or both.

The chances are your business idea will stem from an area in which you're already experienced (through work or study, for example.) But equally it could come from researching a certain area.

So don't just sit there waiting for inspiration to strike, go out and find it.

Be willing to change your start up idea

Sometimes an idea seems like a good one, but later proves not to be. This might happen while you're conducting your market research, or it might have six months after you've launched.

In business flexibility is key, and many start ups change the service or product they offer before becoming successful.

Don't be afraid to rejig an idea if it doesn't work out the way you planned.

You don't need tech skills to start a business

Okay, if you want to launch an app or start the next Facebook then having tech skills will be a big help.

But it's perfectly possible to launch a successful online business with only limited tech knowledge.

A product like GoDaddy's Website Builder can help you get your business online quickly and easily, letting you focus on other aspects of launching a start up.

You don't have to go it alone

The romantic image of start ups is a one or two person operation that starts in a bedroom and goes on to global success.

And although your team may be small (or non-existent) to start with, that doesn't mean there's no support available.

There are plenty of sources of business advice and support, and a good business adviser will even be able to help you develop your start up idea into a fully-fledged business plan.

A good start up idea doesn't have to mean potential for huge growth

A successful start up doesn't have to have one eye on global market domination. Plenty of successful businesses stay as one-person operations.

So just because your start up idea won't make you millions, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea.

Just make sure your idea can help you achieve whatever goals you have.

Having a good start up idea doesn't mean you have to quit the day job

Plenty of successful businesses start when people are still working full time. If you plan on starting a side hustle, it can be a great way to get a business up and running without having to worry about where your income is going to come from.

Just make sure your employer is okay with what you're doing.

The next steps to take to make your start up dream come true

Hopefully you should be closer to settling on an idea that works for you.

To help you with your continuing business journey, you can find a list of business advice centres here.

And this guide from GoDaddy will help you get your online business up and running.