How to Come Up With a Business Idea


One of my favorite inspirational quotes is by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

That saying applies to everything from goal attainment and small business success to academic achievement and career advancement.

Taking challenges one step at a time and being motivated to persist until you succeed  are among the qualities of a success-bound entrepreneur.

If you’re thinking of starting a business of any size, it helps to adopt this type of  entrepreneurial mindset. Without the right attitude, your journey into self employment  is sure to be a short one.

To put it bluntly: “An untrained mind can accomplish nothing!” (Source: A Course in Miracles)

However, if you train your mind to be both goal oriented and action oriented, then your chances of entrepreneurial success are greatly increased.

Another invaluable source of inspiration for entrepreneurs is the classic success book by Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich.” I believe that if every aspiring business owner, college student,  and entrepreneur read that book — and took it seriously — then a lot more people would be reaching their potential and having a positive impact on the economy.

For many self employed people and small business owners, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a good business idea — one that they’re passionate about and that inspires continuous action, innovation, and mental focus.

Coming Up With a Good Business Idea

So how does one come up with a good business idea? Well, in many cases, good startup business ideas are the result of being able to identify an unmet need or an unsolved problem in the marketplace — either locally or globally.

All things being equal, it’s generally best to avoid going into a business in which there’s a lot of stiff competition — especially if you’re just starting out. Although some people have done it successfully, it can be an uphill battle to try and penetrate a highly competitive or saturated market.

An exception: In some cases, however, competition may not be a stumbling block and may actually represent an opportunity. For example, if your potential customers are dissatisfied with the existing service, quality, selection, turnaround time, or responsiveness of the company they’re now doing business with, they (the prospect) would be receptive to your proposal to switch providers or suppliers. If you can provide more value, better service, and superior customer satisfaction than the competition, then you may be in a position to successfully enter a competitive market and gain a growing market share.

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Elements of a good business idea

Coming up with a good business idea usually includes the following ingredients:

  1. Identifying an unmet or inadequately served need among the general population or (better still) a specialized market segment.
  2. Coming up with innovative, compelling, and cost-effect ways to reach your target demographic and market your business. (The best business idea in the world is destined to fail if you don’t know how to effectively communicate the advantages and unique features of your product or service to your target audience.)
  3. The starting point of many successful startup businesses is the ability and willingness to leverage one’s own skills, knowledge, areas of expertise, passions, training, education, resources, personal contacts, and natural talents to acquire customers (AKA “marketing“) and provide them with superior quality, service, and satisfaction. (Satisfied customers relead to repeat business, customer referrals, and favorable online reviews and positive word-of-mouth advertising.)

If it’s your goal to come up with a viable business idea and nurture it to fruition, it’s also vitally important to associate with positive-minded people — specifically, other entrepreneurs, family members, mentors, and friends who will encourage, support, and inspire you, rather than bombard you with reasons why your business ideas might not work.

Granted, all business ideas should be carefully considered, researched, and evaluated before investing time or money in them, but business success can only be achieved when you go into it with an attitude of positive expectation.

Small Business Ideas List

One method of coming up with business ideas is to peruse lists of possible choices, based on what other entrepreneurs are engaged in, researching, or thinking about. I hope the following list of 115 business ideas will help you narrow down the possibilities and zero in on the right business idea for you.

  1. Photography
  2. Photo booth rental
  3. Consulting
  4. Cleaning [Start your own PT office-cleaning business*]
  5. Lawn care, mowing, yard cleanup [Free audio: Lawn business tips and tricks*]
  6. Landscaping
  7. Non-emergency medical transportation
  8. Construction
  9. Handyman business [Getting started*]
  10. Interior/exterior painting
  11. Graphic design
  12. Transportation
  13. Taxi service, limo service, party bus rental
  14. Moving services, trucking business
  15. T-shirt design and sales (online or offline)
  16. Real estate sales, investing, house flipping, rental property
  17. Tutoring
  18. Musical instrument lessons
  19. ESL instruction
  20. Catering
  21. Event planning
  22. Wedding planning, party planning
  23. Princess parties
  24. Floral business
  25. Candy bouquet business [Details here*]
  26. Retail
  27. Computer Repair
  28. eCommerce
  29. Buying and selling on eBay, Craiglist, garage sales, etc.
  30. Jewelry design and sales
  31. Pet sitting, dog walking, dog training, dog grooming, dog breeding
  32. Franchise businesses
  33. Clothing business
  34. Lingerie sales
  35. Food business, such as food truck, ice cream, hot dog cart, Italian ices, bakery, pizza
  36. Home health care
  37. Personal trainer or starting a gym business or fitness bootcamp
  38. Life coach
  39. Carpentry, woodworking*, furniture refinishing
  40. Flooring installation
  41. Plumbing
  42. HVAC
  43. Roofing
  44. Electrical services
  45. Pressure washing
  46. Pool cleaning, maintenance, seasonal openings and closings
  47. home staging
  48. Interior design
  49. Payroll services
  50. Bookkeeping
  51. Medical billing
  52. Accounting/tax preparation
  53. Personal assistant
  54. Virtual assistant
  55. Answering service
  56. Transcription services
  57. Vending machines
  58. Marketing/advertising services, including social media marketing
  59. Blogging
  60. Carpet cleaning
  61. Daycare
  62. Crafts
  63. Sewing
  64. Candle making, soap making, sales
  65. Etsy business
  66. Flea market business
  67. Art business
  68. Consignment sales
  69. Recycling
  70. Wholesaling
  71. Web hosting
  72. Mobile oil change service
  73. Roadside assistance
  74. Window tinting
  75. Property preservation
  76. Snow plowing
  77. Tree trimming
  78. Junk removal
  79. Import/export
  80. Buying and selling used cars
  81. Security guard services
  82. Home security system installation
  83. Home automation
  84. Home inspection services
  85. Home remodeling
  86. Window cleaning
  87. Rental business
  88. Antique dealer
  89. Locksmith
  90. Welding
  91. Printing Business
  92. Background checking services
  93. Safety consulting
  94. Management consulting
  95. Security consulting
  96. Career counseling
  97. Resume writing service
  98. Corporate recruiting
  99. Karate studio (dojo)
  100. Music recording studio
  101. Yoga studio
  102. Gymnastics
  103. Offering classes, continuing adult education
  104. Hair styling, makeup artist
  105. Financial planning
  106. Freelance writing
  107. Personal chef
  108. Boat charter business
  109. Guided tours
  110. Gift basket business
  111. Pest control
  112. Rental property business (apartments, condos, houses, vacation rentals, etc.)
  113. Hotel, B&B
  114. Restaurant, cafe, diner, coffee shop, coffee service,
  115. Delivery service, courier
  116. Linen rental
  117. Dry cleaning business

Thanks for checking out my latest blog post on all things entrepreneurial! Stay tuned for more business ideas, marketing strategy, and motivational resources.

Best of luck in coming up with a winning business idea, this year!

Business blogger, freelance writer, marketing strategist, coffee drinker


*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of the products, services, courses, and software featured on this blog.

Cautionary note: A startup business is like a marriage: It should not be entered into lightly! Carefully evaluate all business opportunities and ventures before taking the plunge, seek out trusted and qualified business advisors, and bear in mind that all businesses entail a degree of risk.

But… with that caveat in mind, remember the following quote:

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. (John A. Shedd)



How to Become an Entrepreneur


There are a lot of different kinds of entrepreneurs in the business world, but they all have several things in common. Those attributes may include a desire to be their own boss, an inner drive to create success on their own terms, and a business idea they believe in.

The big question is: “Can you become an entrepreneur or do you have to be born with entrepreneurial qualities?” It’s sort of a “nature vs nurture” issue — or maybe the age-old chicken and egg conundrum (“Which came first?”).

While most people are better suited for traditional employment (working for someone else), entrepreneurs seem more inclined to generate moneymaking ideas, acquire the knowledge and resources they need to increase their chances of success, and they have the ability to take action when the time is right.

In many cases, entrepreneurs have a knack for identifying emerging trends and capitalizing on them. Sometimes they have a unique idea for a new product or just a new new twist on an old idea.

Although the entrepreneurial community is as diverse as society itself, you’ll generally find most entrepreneurs to be creative, motivated, and passionate about a particular thing, like a business model, a product or service, an investment opportunity, or a self employment idea.

So getting back to the main topic of how to become an entrepreneur, here are a few suggestions that can help further your entrepreneurial aspirations:

  • Cultivate a positive, optimistic attitude. If you don’t believe in yourself and your ideas, then your efforts will be half hearted and tentative, at best. Success in your own business has to be based on clarity of purpose, persistence, and determination. Success takes work, mental focus, and planning. Conversely, get rich quick schemes are unrealistic pipe dreams, which are comparable to  a house of cards.
  • Identify people, resources, and organizations that can help you reach your goals. Being a successful entrepreneur is rarely something you can do in a vacuum. Developing cooperative, synergistic business relationships is one of the cornerstones of being a successful entrepreneur. On the other hand, trying to do everything on your own without the support and cooperation of other people can be a frustrating and self-limiting strategy.
  • Seize opportunities to increase your skills, knowledge, and expertise. When you continually expand your value as a business owner, consultant, deal maker, organizer, negotiator, and advisor, you’ll not only strengthen your own confidence — which is an indispensable asset — but you’ll become a more effective decision maker and leader.
  • Associate with like-minded, entrepreneurial people. Positive people will help fuel your ambitions and energize your plans. Negative people will have the opposite effect.

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Entrepreneurial Business Ideas and Information

If you’re looking for a business idea to pursue and information to help you get started, here are some e-books, startup guides, and websites that can assist you in achieving your entrepreneurial goals:

Thanks for checking out some of my latest ideas on being an entrepreneur and starting your own business.

I invite you to follow this blog for more business ideas, updates, and articles.

Stay tuned for additional insights into how to become an entrepreneur.

Best of luck in 2019!

–Joel S.
Business blogger, entrepreneur, compensated affiliate
Questions? Comments? Inquire here!


*Disclaimer: As a compensated affiliate of the digital products, e-commerce services, and other entrepreneurial resources mentioned on this blog, I receive a commission on referrals from this blog that result in the sale of products and services. Contact me if you have any questions about this or if you’d like to create your own blog based on this business model (affiliate marketing).