If you want to start a new business but have no ideas, use this checklist.

I want to start a business but have no ideas
Image from Midjourney

If I had a penny every time I thought, “I want to start a new business but have no ideas.”, I would have enough money to start a new Space X.

Here’s the problem. There are trillions of ideas. However, you’re being selective. This is a fact. Do you want a few ideas? Let me try to pitch some.

  • How about you start a restaurant? Oh, but that needs a big capital.

Oh, so you are looking for something of a lower budget.

  • How about you start an agency? But I don’t have the sales experience to sign clients.

Alright, so you are looking for something with no experience and no budget.

  • Wait, how about you start a website that connects people together in a social network?

That could’ve made you a billionaire if it were 2004 and your name was Zuckerberg. Do you know why this bothers you? Because the fact is if you can access a new business idea from those trillion ideas your mind can produce, one of them could lead to eternal glory.

You’d never need to work, and you’ll be written in history books. Money won’t buy you happiness, but you know what they say. Have you ever seen a sad person on a jet ski?

So you have a choice, and it’s not red or blue. It’s either start a business idea that you deem good or wait till you find the killer idea. However, know one thing. You might wait a lifetime and end up 95 years old when you’re filthy rich.

You could turn out to be the first 95 years old sad person to ride a jet-ski due to the pain in your bones. I’m not sure about you. But I’d rather have an average successful idea that would get me a jet-ski in ten years rather than a killer idea in 70 years.

So let’s talk about business ideas and how you can find one that is good enough without taking Ayahuasca on a mountain.

Let’s re-wire our brains first.

One of my favorite things to do is to go back in time. If I take you back in time to the day before Facebook was founded, and I gave you the chance to do that instead of Zuck, you’ll probably not succeed.

The business idea is merely 2% of a successful business. You know Zuckerberg as the “accidental lucky billionaire.” However, if you get into his mind and watch his whole life somehow, you’ll figure out that he exerted an exceptional amount of effort off-screen.

They did not write an article titled, “Mark Zuckerberg woke up and worked super hard today.” Such articles do not get much traction compared to “Zuck screwed up Facebook by renaming it to Meta.”

So before starting this brainstorming journey of getting the best business idea you can think of, know this – it is never entirely about the business idea.

It’s about every early morning you wake up and spend an average successful day at work. It’s quite similar to you gaining an 0.5% profit every day. Sounds quite low, doesn’t it?

Yet, if you start with $10,000 and get a 0.5% profit every day, in ten years, you will have $805,611,043,980. (Congratulations, you are the world’s richest person.)

Think of a startup’s success similarly. Aim for a 0.5% improvement in your business every day, and you’ll reach the level you need eventually.

If you still want to start a business but have no ideas, let’s think together.

There were several moments in my life when I woke up, made a good cup of coffee, and started writing ideas in a notebook. There was one certainty about what I was doing. I was sure that deep in my mind, there was a business idea that could be worth millions.

Eventually, this became one of the most interesting activities that I do every now and then. However, in terms of efficiency, forcing an idea on a piece of paper does not usually work for me. It’s vital as it is a start. But the ideas generated are average.

However, when I shower, when I drive, during my run, or when I am shopping, for example, are times that I get out my phone and write business ideas that are worth studying. So that’s the first technique you ought to practice.

Whenever you want to start a business but have no ideas, remember that ideas are generated randomly at any moment.

Checklist before you start your new business ideas.

Now when you start doing the above, you will have plenty of ideas. Some might sound logical to you. Others might get you super “entrepreneur-fueled.”

No matter what you do, you need to keep your cool. The first thing to do is to sleep over it. I can’t tell you how many ideas I was super enthusiastic about that vanished a week later.

Alright, so now is where I flex my business consultancy career experience. Let’s review this checklist to know whether you have a killer business idea.

Scalability – Uber

This is the most essential business question to ask. Is your idea scalable? I heard an example from an investor around 7 years ago that I liked to describe scalability.

Can you serve 10 people simultaneously with your business idea? 100? 1 million?

This is one of the questions that could enlighten you to see how scalable your business idea is. For instance, Uber is currently serving millions of people at this second. Scalability, check.

If you start a new restaurant, for example, you will be forced to take the maximum capacity of your space. However, that does not mean that starting a restaurant is bad. Mcdonald’s is also serving millions. Yet, it took them a lot more time to reach this than Uber.

Finally, you might start a failed Uber when you could’ve started a successful restaurant. So keep your head in the game and understand your goals in this entrepreneurship game.

Competition – Tesla

If you’re starting a company called Lyft that does what Uber does, you have competition from Uber. It’ll be difficult, but you can still make it. However, if you start a company like Tesla, it’s very hard to compete.

There is a famous saying, “If you want to start a new automotive company, buy one.”

Understanding the competition and how fierce it will be is vital. When Coinbase started, there was a very low number of competitors. Hence, it was easier to go to market.

Financial Estimate – Do not tell me you will get an investment.

Let’s say you have an idea to sell iPhone covers that are connected to a wristband that acts as if you’re spiderman. I’ll personally buy that. You’ll need possibly $1000 to build your prototype. Then you’ll need to market for it. This sounds logical.

However, if you have an idea of building a rocket better than Space X’s rockets that will act as an international fireworks hub, you won’t be able to afford an MVP. Most importantly, do not say, “Oh, I will get an investment.”

Relying on investment for an MVP is a recipe for failure. Build a company, get some traction, then get an investment.

Do not be overprotective.

Client: “I have a business idea that I am starting, but I need you to sign an NDA first.”

Me: “…”

I’ve had this conversation more than you could imagine. People tend to be very protective of their business idea that they won’t share it with others as they’re scared it might get stolen. They’re afraid that they would get “Zuckerberged.”

This is the biggest sign of entrepreneurship immaturity. Sharing your business idea will get you feedback that will help you grow your business. There aren’t a lot of spiders out there waiting for your business idea to start it and become billionaires. If they do that, then they are quite good operationally that you should sign them as co-founders instantly.

Find the right people; without them, you can trash the idea.

The world will remember Elon Musk for starting Tesla. Yet, at least 4 others are heroes of the Tesla story. The world remembers Zuck for Facebook. There are a couple of others who, without them, Facebook would’ve not happened.

A business idea leads to a business. A business is 100% about the team. If you have a good one, then you have a chance. If you have a non-compatible one, you surely will fail, even if you have the best business idea of all time.

Instead of wanting to start a business with no ideas, MVP it!

Get your hands dirty, and don’t say, “I want to start a business but have no ideas.” Instead, you should say, “I want to start a business; I have an MVP.”

Creating a minimum viable product is your stage 0 of success. You can have tons of great ideas, but they’re useless unless they can arrive in this world.

Building an MVP in our day and age is easier than how many perceive it. You have an idea of an app that resembles Uber. Then you do not have to build something that is of its quality. But create something that is working and usable to convince others. Later on, you’ll play the UX and marketing game.

The market will start new business ideas, not your friends or family.

You finally have a great business idea. Instead of heading to your friends or family, go to your worst enemy. Ask them; they will probably be more helpful than the former.

Even if a hundred people applaud your idea, that does not mean it’s good enough. A good idea is one that is scalable, remember? For that, a hundred people are not enough. However, you could use those hundred people to build a small business, which is perfectly healthy for your personal financials.

Learn how to study the market need.

Let’s say you have an idea, and it passed all the above points. The next step is to check whether the market is growing or not. You could have a killer business idea in an industry that is dying, like paper printers. It could make you money this year but won’t in twenty years.

My best recommendation here is to understand the industry you are operating in and read market reports from Deloitte and Mckinsey. For example, Uber operates in the transportation industry. If I google “Transportation market Deloitte”, this report shows up that’s quite helpful.

Truly understand the industry you are operating in and how it’s being forecasted. But do not think too much of it. It’s a validation of what you’re working on. If you’d seen the future of bitcoin in an analysis before 2009, you would certainly see wrong information.

Copying a great idea could lead to a billion as well.

Finally, copying a business idea is a healthy business strategy if you’re doing this to get to a billion dollars. Lyft created the exact same business model as Uber and went public. Figma got sold to Adobe.

They’re all billionaires and successful. They chose to focus on the operational side of things, which is more challenging than brainstorming a business idea.

Finally, if I could be of help, ask me!

Here are some business ideas that I think are smart:

  • A simpler phone than the iPhone and Android.
  • An app promoting a new method of social running, similar to carpooling.
  • A company that sends you a random plant every month.

I could keep going on. However, that does not mean that those ideas are killer ideas. Some ideas might work very well in Nigeria and fail in the US. The key here is to learn from the ones that succeed and those that don’t.

If you wish to share your idea below for public criticism, do so. If you’re scared of Zuckerberging, then write it differently, or just learn from the above tactics.

Oh, and if you have your business idea ready and you want to take it to the next level, you can start a business plan with one of the consultants here to get to know more about the opportunities of the idea.

Hopefully, you won’t think that you want to start a business but have no ideas and shift this to wanting to start a new business and having many ideas.

Wishing you a wonderful entrepreneurial journey,

Meet The Author Of This Article

Al Anany

I’m Al Anany, the founder and CEO of Albusi.

Writing in the business industry has shifted my mentality toward entrepreneurship. I started on Medium in 2021 and ended up being a Top Writer of more than 4 categories and had my content viewed more than 213k times.

I always have a single goal while writing: focus on entertaining while adding value.

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