4 Ways to Come Up With Winning Business Ideas

Image of Kiran Wicksteed

By Kiran Wicksteed

It’s very difficult to create something brand new. In fact, any invention ever conjured up, by anyone, was built on the works of those who came before. So, unless you want your business relegated to the land of redundancy, don’t be afraid to borrow a little. At the end of the day, the smartphone is just a bunch of things we already had, in the form of a single sleek and convenient device.

cement floor with the words "passion lead us here"

1. Be cognizant of new opportunities and technologies

Augmented Reality, VR, 3D Printing, The Internet of Things. The sci-fi movies of yesterday don’t even come close to the myriad amazing technologies which are now part of our reality. Be on the forefront. How well did Pokemon Go do? Rhetorical question. It was such a success because its developers found a novel use for a relatively new technology (not actually even that new). You too can do the same. There’s a ready-to-be-tapped-into realm of splendid business ideas for those amongst us who have the ability to keep up with the interminable marathon of current affairs and trends. From this core principle, the person who invented Hodor Doorstops after that episode of Game of thrones benefited very nicely indeed. If you have a healthy amount of chutzpah, know what’s trending, and can get ahead of the curve, you can do very well. A little disclaimer however: trends often vanish as abruptly and enigmatically as they arrive. So, if you’ve just invested everything into a long-term business plan based on a fleeting moment in popular culture, then it may be time to call your bank manager to negotiate.

2. Practice Chindōgu

Chindōgu, or the practice of creating weird and often utterly preposterous inventions, is excellent for developing one’s creative problem solving faculties. It starts with a problem – say, for instance, your noodles are usually too hot and manually blow-cooling them has become a bit of a bore – so you spend a wild night discovering your inner insane scientist, and by the next morning you have yourself a pair of chopsticks with a tiny fan attachment.

The scope of Chindōgu includes such weird and eccentric inventions as: a toilet-roll fitted hat for chronic hay-fever sufferers, and shoes with miniature fitted umbrellas for when it’s wet out.

Whilst being utterly ridiculous, Chindōgu inventions cannot be called useless. Because, they are created to solve a problem. One could, however, call them utterly impractical. Chindōgu is where values of viability go awry. But, make no mistake, these practices do not emerge from sentiments of ennui inherent in Chindogu practitioners, who, disillusioned with their lives, pour their creative powers into fruitless ventures — resulting only in tepid executions. I repeat, It is not the sole domain of unemployed youths, who, furtively waste time under the dim lights of their mothers’ basements, when they should be doing getting their lives on track.

In fact, we should all practice Chindōgu, because that next crazy idea might not be so mad at all. When you identify the problems in society, and combine seemingly unrelated articles to solve them: the results can be exceptionally useful.

So, practice Chindōgu.

If innovation is a muscle to be exercised, then, Chindōgu is your bench press.

3. Cut out the middle man

Technological advents are rendering many institutions redundant. Soundcloud is a quasi-record label instantly distributing your favourite music direct.  Youtube, is a quasi-TV station that contains way more content that any traditional channel could possibly produce. Technology gives us the freedom to stick it to the man. Do it! Find a way to connect people with each other directly. Uber did it, and they are bringing the taxi industry to its knees without owning a single solitary taxi, or luxury sedan, as is often the case with Uber. Similarly, Air BnB is the now the pre-eminent hotel chain, but the company doesn’t even own a room. Even Gumtree allows you to buy a used-car direct, without having to cough up to the car salesmen who may or may not have put saw-dust in your engine to make it sound better. We are in the midst of a revolution. Can you think of an industry that can be disrupted? This may be your shot.

4. Focus on a problem

The next time you find yourself flabbergasted at an inefficiency, your dismay could actually be the opportunity of a lifetime. The best innovations solve a problem. As a budding creative genius, it is your job to see the opportunity in the issue, rather than getting caught-up in a frustration-fuelled malaise. Thomas Edison is widely credited with the invention of the light bulb. It is an invention which changed the world. A well-lit room at the flick of a switch. We forget how amazing that is. It’s only when you imagine life without the light bulb that you realise its significance. The force that drove light into our lives was our frustration at how painfully inefficient and dangerous illuminating a space used to be. Edison solved a massive problem. His reward was a place in history. In the future, inventions will the solve problems we don’t even know we have, and our decedents will feel sorry for our pitiful and primitive existences.  So don’t curse to the heavens for having to stand in a queue. Fix the queue problem for society, and your rewards will astound you.

That’s all folks. May the force be with you.

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