How to discover new online business ideas?

ideaThe good news is that the online world is growing very fast. Therefore there is always an abundance of new ideas. If you apply lessons from this blog post, you will soon realize that the success factor is about concluding what NOT to choose, rather than how to come up with “the idea of the century”.

Below I list 7 key principles to “discover” new online business ideas…

  1. Offline to Online mind-set – Everything sold “offline” can be sold online. Literally everything! Examples include: Food & Other consumables; Clothes & Accessories;  Advice (as e-books, trainings counselling); Bookings (at hotels, flights, restaurants, taxis, events, etc.)
    All the businesses above were traditionally sold offline only. Therefore, if you are looking for an idea for online business, see what’s being sold offline and (still) not online in a competitive way. If you can find a niche that is “hard to find locally” but still has enough demand for a bigger online market, you might have hit the “sweet spot.” For example, an e-commerce business that focuses only on “Clothes from the 60s” or “professional dancing shoes” will most likely have an OK national demand but not have a local traditional shop in every town.
  2. Make it more convenient – Think of finding information such as the price of a fridge 30 years ago. You would get in your car and drive the whole day to compare prices among local retailers. The same task now takes just five minutes.  Providing accounting services as a company?  Such work used to take 10 full-time employees, and now, just one location-independent person who could be, for example, in India can use online software to complete the same work. So in terms of convenience, Internet has changed “the game.” Many online businesses are still being created around convenience. Hence, think how you can make the world a more convenient place.
  3. Make it cheaper – Let’s take a traditional, offline business. It sells electronics. It has 10 retail stores and 40 employees. It rents an inventory warehouse. It owns stock. It has trucks.
    Now, imagine you could reach all those clients without 40 employees, without your own trucks, without the retail stores, even without the stock (in a drop shipping model, discussed in Tip #83.) There are still many niches around in which the “online price pressure” position is open.
  4. Come in as a 2nd or 3rd player and dominate the market – There is a common view that the first company to discover (or enter) a market niche dominates it. However, this is often untrue. Companies, that enter first, make the most mistakes and pay a premium for educating their market. It is often the 2nd or 3rd company in the market that succeeds. Examples include even multimillion dollar companies like Facebook and Google.
  5. Immature niches – This was the case with unitedsurfcamps.com. Even though online business had come a long way in the general travel industry, it was still lagging in the surf niche when we started. A more recent example of mine is a company I supported with an online concept for car recycling in Poland, which in 2014 still had zero “online” competition.
  6. Follow your passion – Another dimension is to ask yourself what you are passionate about? My passion is surfing, so I naturally started an online business in the surfing industry. This gave great “fuel” to the business development and made it easier to become an “expert” in my niche.
  7. Think about your unsatisfied needs – Have you ever been struck with a thought like: “Wouldn’t it be great if…?” This is an indication that you have a new business opportunity within your grasp. Continue that thought and think how it can be conceptualized into a business.

Following one or a few of these principles, you will begin to discover many ideas. To me it happens quite often, but only in the latest years I have developed the discipline to also write them down in a list.

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