Try This Simple Exercise To Find Your Next Great Business Idea

| April 5, 2017 | By

Try This Simple Exercise.jpg

Entrepreneurs suffer from a funny disease: idea fever. Ever had it?

Here are a few of the symptoms:

  • An excess of big, exciting ideas
  • The desire to jump into a new project even though you haven’t finished your last one
  • Feelings of restlessness, yearning for the “next big thing”

If you’re experiencing any of these, you might be suffering from idea fever!

As entrepreneurs, we have an instinctive desire to follow our passions. At the same time, though, we’re often overwhelmed by the possibilities, unsure of which is the “right” path. Some entrepreneurs spend years jumping from one thing to the next before they finally start the company that will cement their success.

So what can do if you’ve got a bad case of idea fever, or if you’re struggling to choose between a few great ideas? Use this simple exercise to nail down the area where your passions and your skills meet.

  1. Write down 5 things you most love to do.

Don’t overthink it. Let yourself be free to write down what you really love, whether that’s reading on the beach, tinkering in your garage or singing karaoke.

If you had an extra day in the week to spend doing whatever you wanted, what would you do?

  1. Write down 5 things you’re good at

Now, write down your top five skills. Not necessarily the things you enjoy doing the most (though they might to be)—here you’re zeroing in on the things you excel at.

What are people always complimenting you for? Is there a subject in school you always breezed through? Anything people seem to always come to you for help with?

These might be hard skills, like Microsoft Excel, soft skills like helping people resolve conflicts, or a mix of both.

  1. Make connections between the lists

This is the part that requires a bit of creativity, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Find the connections that naturally exist between the two lists. These are the seeds for profitable and passion-worthy businesses.

I’ll illustrate using my own two lists.

Things I love to do

  • Travel
  • Cook healthy meals
  • Outdoor activities (hiking, biking, kayaking)
  • Spend time with my dog
  • Listen to podcasts


Things I’m good at

  • Writing
  • Project management
  • Planning
  • Social media
  • DIY projects


Based on these lists, here are a few of the business ideas I might come up with:

  • A healthy meal-planning service
  • A social media agency specializing in the travel industry
  • A blog-writing service aimed at podcasters who hate to write
  • A firm that plans and executes outdoor excursions for teams

All of these sound super interesting to me, but of course they do! They’re based on my own hobbies and skills. They might sound incredibly boring or impractical to you. So try it for yourself—I guarantee you’ll find at least a couple business ideas that are both feasible and highly intriguing to you.

If you’re having trouble filling your lists, it can be helpful to ask those closest to you for their input. You might be surprised at the answers you get when you ask your colleagues, “what do you think are my strongest skills?” Sometimes they’ll share insights you weren’t even aware of.

Why It Works

Key.jpegI believe fully in proving the concept of a new business before diving in. Part of that lies in testing the market, but the other part depends on you. Is the concept something you can see yourself staying committed to five years down the road? What about ten years?

This exercise works to help you find those ideas that will stand the test of time because it maps the place where your passions and your skills intersect. If you start a business based on your skills alone, you may succeed, but working through the late nights and the tough times will be a lot more challenging. Doing something you love encourages longevity.

When you’re passionate about what you’re doing, the whole entrepreneurial process is a lot easier. Warren Buffet summed it up well:

“In the world of business, the people who are most successful are those who are doing what they love.”

He also said, “not doing what we love in the name of greed is very poor management of our lives.”

In other words, there are plenty of ways to make money, but if it’s not something you truly enjoy your life may be poorer in a different way: your happiness.

The second reason this exercise works is because it forces you to narrow down your options. Remember that idea fever we talked about earlier? It’s exciting, but it can also be your worst enemy.

As the saying goes, if you chase two rabbits, you’ll catch neither. If you dabble in several different things, pursuing ideas willy-nilly, you’re unlikely to find massive success at any of them. It’s by narrowing your focus on a deliberate goal that you’re most likely to achieve it.

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