Have you ever looked at a toy and thought, “I could make that,” or watched a YouTube how-to video and thought, “I would tweak it just a bit differently?”
We all have ideas to make something better or fix something that is broken or figure out a way to do something that needs to be done. It’s executing on those ideas that defines an entrepreneur. And most of us, didn’t have a clue that’s what we were doing.
What entrepreneurs have is a focus to make things work. They’re willing to take huge risks.
I’ve shared with you many times on this Forbes blog and my website how I got into career coaching. I got into it because I was horrible at finding a job! I knew I needed to change my strategy, or I would still be living with my parents and working in admin.
Here’s my short list of how to be an entrepreneur without an idea.
Short-list your passions. You will not be successful if you are not passionate about what you do. Make a list and then narrow that list down to identify your top three to five passions. I call these my passion projects. Passion projects come from a lot of different places, including hobbies, shopping, and things that bug you. For example, you got tired of overspending on skincare products, so you started making your own. This is a passion project. This is how I got started in career coaching, and it continues to fuel my soul. I love what I do.
This is also how successful entrepreneur Colin Barceloux got started. He launched his first start-up, BookRenter.com, after getting fed up with the high cost of textbooks. This fueled his entrepreneurial spirit, and since then he has gone on to start several other businesses.
Keep current with trends. You want to find a trend with staying power. Remember the pet rock? If you’re under 40 you likely have no idea what I’m referring to! Do you or someone you know own a pair of reading glasses? Reading glasses have staying power.
The digital world it is the same. Not many people remember MySpace. MySpace was the first social platform and the largest between 2005 and 2008. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook with a limited audience – ivy league schools – and kept up with trends to turn it into the largest social media platform today.
Use tools like Google Trends, Pinterest monthly trend reports, or leading publications in your market or passion.
Hunt out the niches. Most of what we use today falls into big categories. In the digital space this includes social media, software programs, and even coaching and other personal services. In the product world, it’s similar.
My career coaching business falls under the blanket category of coaching. Coaching is huge and includes a lot of different niches. I have made a really good living doing what I enjoy by carving out my niche.
Talk to people. If you are really struggling but definitely want to branch out on your own, talk to people. Whether you want to develop a new physical or digital product, learn from the people that will become your consumers. If you’re an avid climber, hang out at the climbing gym and ask people what they’re looking for in climbing products or gear. If ecommerce is your thing, send out surveys to develop ideas that would make a great ecommerce business. Do what you can to find out what other people need in areas that interest you. Then fulfill those needs.
Built out of necessity. COVID forced a lot of businesses to shut down or make radical shifts in the way they do business. While the economy shut down, business growth in a few sectors boomed. Some of these businesses developed or expanded because of demand, or necessity. A great example is the personal shopper business. Remember pre-COVID days going to the grocery store early in the morning and having the place to yourself? Now, you’ll have the company of personal shoppers picking up their daily orders for their customers. Look for ideas that keep the wheels turning, like personal shoppers did during the pandemic.
These are a handful of ways to come up with an idea to spark your entrepreneurial spirit. You don’t have to have an idea if you have the drive. Use this guide to become an entrepreneur without an idea. Remember, most career paths are not linear.
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