Tuesday, 15 November 2011

6 ways to find a social enterprise or business idea

Yesterday, I wrote about 5 reality checks I've used to test whether I'm ready to start a social enterprise, charity or business; but, what if you don't have an idea of what you want your organisation to do? Here are 6 things that have helped me think of ideas:
  • Skills: What skills do you have? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? If you know the answers to these questions, these are the foundations to you finding an idea;
  • Gaps: Is there a gap in the market in what you are currently doing or a sector you have been looking at? Could you fill that gap?
  • News: Newspapers are full of problems that need solving; virtually every page is talking about a problem in society or the economy at the moment. Is there a solution you could think of to tackle one of society's great problems? My friend, Dominic Campbell, sketched out the design for Patchwork HQ - a safeguarding app - after watching the story of Baby Peter unfold on the news;
  • Pain:  If you've asked yourself the question "if only someone did this", my life would be so much easier, or you've heard other people ask that; is there a solution you could think of to help tackle that pain? Aaron Patzer found it painful to manage his finances online; he created Mint to solve this pain;
  • Talk: Conversations are often the best way to solve problems and think of new ideas. Going out there and talking to people about the types of problems they are wanting solved and seeing if you can create a solution is a great way to find an idea;
  • Test: Before going further, test in your head whether the idea could work. Is there a way it could be a viable business model? If it's an idea for a social enterprise or business, you may find the 8Ps of Powerful Social Innovation helpful.
How do you think of business ideas? Is there anything I should add to this list?

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