Many young entrepreneurs have a difficult time thinking of their business idea. Many know that they want to affect change and start a company, but that can’t seem to find their idea. The key to effective brainstorming a business concept is to remove pressure, not apply it.
At the Global Startup Challenge, we’ve been using a unique business brainstorming method that we call IdeaStrike. This is the method all of our students use to design a business idea in under two hours. We’ve used it hundreds of times all across the world, and it helps students to focus their attention on specific demographics, technologies, and industries.
We’ve found one of the reasons business ideation can be so overwhelming is because there are too many possibilities. Instead, the IdeaStrike method forces students to examine new combinations of ideas.
Here’s how it works.
Step One: Create Separate List of Target Audiences, Technologies, and Industries
Spend about 20 minutes writing out three separate lists. The first list should have somewhere between 30-50 target audiences. The key here is not to overthink. Create a snappy nickname for a target market that describes a potential audience. The idea here is to generalize and identify one to three identifying features. You will be better served to identify undeserved demographics with disposable income. Here are some examples:
- YoPros- Young Professionals aged 23-30, usually single with a high disposable income and no children that generally live in cities.
- DINKS- Double Income No Kids, usually aged 26-34. High disposable income and no children. Often live in cities or city outskirts.
- Old Cat Ladies- 50-60 year old single women who own at least two cats
- High School Jocks- 15-18 year old guys that play Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, or a similar sport.
- Parents with Young Children
- Long-haul Truckers
Once you’ve finish your first list, move onto creating a list of technologies or business models. Again, keep it simple. Here are some examples:
- Mobile Phone App
- Tablet App
- Double Sided Market Place
- Longtail Production
And then finally move onto the final list, a list of industries and sectors. Keep each industry specific. Here are examples:
- Food and Beverage
- Wearable Technologies
- Beauty Products
Step Two: Combine One Word from Each List into a Business Concept
Once your lists are completed, you can start the brainstorming process. Select different combinations from each of your three piles and see what business ideas can be created through the unique combinations.
Your goal here is not to land on your million dollar idea, but to think creatively about different target segments, technologies, and industries. Don’t get bogged down in the details of each idea. Quickly recombine word cards to generate multiple business ideas.
Try to come up with at least 10 potential business concepts.
Step Three: Map out Business Models
After you’ve written down about ten business ideas, begin to think more critically about each of them. Is there a way your idea can be monetized? What would the potential startup costs be for each idea? Can the product or service be created with enough margin for the business to be sustainable.
I recommend using the Business Model Canvas to quickly plot out the nine elements of a business model. After you’ve done this, examine each concept for viability!