The Happy Start Up: Deciding On A Business Idea
I believe there are two ways to find a business idea. Either you look for one or one finds you.
The first one involves looking for a gap in the market and actively searching for one that will work, the second involves getting on with your life until one day an idea presents itself, planting the seeds of possibility in your mind until you can’t ignore it any longer.
The business I’m starting up: an ethical jewellery and accessories brand, was one of those ideas that found me. I wasn’t looking to start a new business, since I already have two. My time is limited but I had this niggling fear that if I didn’t do this now, I would regret it for the rest of my life. That’s usually when I know I need to follow my gut and “just do it!”
While I was in Rwanda delivering sewing + craft supplies, I discovered the ladies at Aspire Rwanda had formed a co-operative producing jewellery, baskets and other accessories. Their struggle, they told me, was that they weren’t aware of trends or fashions and it made it hard for them to sell their work to tourists or overseas. The other challenge was getting their work seen by more of the right people (sound familiar?). They had limited funds and limited means, no website or technical knowledge. Many of them were keeping the little money they did make under their beds because they didn’t trust the banks to hold it for them. There was big cultural and societal reasons for this and telling them to simply open a Paypal, Etsy or Big Cartel account, wouldn’t cut it.
They needed someone who could help them and they asked me.
To say the business idea landed in my lap would be an understatement. This conversation sparked the idea of collaboration but rather than just helping them, I wanted to do business with them. I could see there was an opportunity to collaborate on designs and sell these as part of a new accessories brand.
I considered all the options for a few days and wondered could I really do this? I even put a tweet out saying I was thinking of doing this, that it was crazy but I really wanted to do it. I also reached out to a friend who told me to go for it!
So what strategies did I use to decide that this idea was worth taking forward?
If you need help in this area you can use these as a starting point.
1. I studied long term trends.
There is currently a ‘Buy Local’ movement encouraged by small businesses and governments in many parts of the world. They are hoping it will help jumpstart the economy whilst also helping small businesses survive in leaner times. I’m taking a big risk in starting a business where the majority of the products are made overseas. Having your products made in the country you will be selling them is a huge selling point but I realised there was still an opportunity for companies that produce overseas if the target market could understand the reasons for doing so. It is also important that the target audience can connect with the story behind the products and that they know exactly where their products are coming from. I’ll talk about this a bit more in the coming weeks but I think this trend for provenance will grow as we become more selective about what we buy.
2. I looked at the purpose of the product.
If there is a need for the product then it will be easier to sell. The items I decided on will make great gifts and coupled with the story behind them, they will be desirable products with a purpose.
3. I studied the competition.
Even though there are other companies that sell similar products, I looked at how I could differentiate and serve an alternate niche. While there may be some overlap at times, it became clear almost immediately how I could do this. There is clearly a place for a new brand serving this niche in the marketplace.
So if you also in the idea stages, make sure your business idea is something people want, that has a purpose and a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Are you in the ideas stages of starting a business or can you share how you decided on your business idea?
Did you have a strategy or did you know immediately that your idea would work?
Did you decide to turn something you love into a business and did you consider if there was a need for your skills from the start of your business journey? I’d love to know!