Struggling to think of business ideas? Try this for inspiration. » SMEInsider

Struggling to think of business ideas? Try this for inspiration.

If you spend your days dreaming about jacking in the job and going it alone, chances are that the biggest thing keeping you back is the lack of a business plan you really believe in. Here, we guide you through a three step approach to finding that all-important idea, as outlined by Chris Garden and Catherine Blackburn, authors of Employee to Entrepreneur: How to Ditch the Day Job and Start Your Own Company.

First, Garden and Blackburn suggest, look to your own experiences. What skills and insights have you picked up through your employment history that could form the basis of a business? What about outside of work? If you have a hobby that you love and excel at, successfully monetising this could become a highly rewarding career path.

Next, think about what’s going to work. For example, what’s going on in your sector and the wider world today? What kinds of businesses are currently succeeding? Is there space for you? Importantly, what extra value could you bring customers in these sectors? Even an economic downturn can open up opportunities – think about what markets are now being underserved and how you might be able to step in. Now, consider how best to operate within this space. The popularity of locally-sourced products and access to globalised markets via the internet each create fantastic, but very different, opportunities. What kind of approach is the best fit for your business?

Finally, say the authors, look to the future. It’s important to think about the long term possibilities of your idea. Do global and local trends suggest that this business model has growth potential? Could your idea be based on a passing fad? And, most importantly, how do you really feel about having your own business? Focussing on the financial and emotional rewards of running your own business should, say Garden and Blackburn, help to spur you on. But make sure that you can really visualise what this kind of freedom and independence looks and feels like, to understand if it’s really for you. Frightening as it can be at times, you’ll need to love this life you’re embarking on, and to be able to feed that passion into your business, for your company to really work.