Where to Look for Good Venture Ideas

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    It’s not hard thinking up venture ideas. Often they seem to come out of the woodwork. Get some folks together for an hour and you’ll come out with a couple dozen of them. Include some entrepreneurial people from outside your group and you’ll get some new ideas that you might have missed.

    But also step back to take a look at what your group or organization has to offer. Start with any services or products you’re already offering, even if they don’t make any money for you. What could you do to improve financial impact through them? Perhaps increase your prices, lower your costs, or sell more to existing customers. Is there anything else you need? Next, look at what else you could provide to these customers, based on what you know about them or could find out by asking them. Do you want fries with that burger?

    After that, explore where you might find additional customers for your current products. Best thing to look for: customers who are similar in some fashion to your existing customers. Seek out similar demographics or organizations in different locations. How do we get our customers to refer us to others? Finally, consider new products or services you could provide to new customers, but only do that last. This represents the most difficult, riskiest strategy. But in entrepreneurship, anything is possible. Just don’t spend too much time discussing the least likely to succeed ideas.

    I often use the Venture Brainstorming Pyramid as a tool for working through these options. Start at the bottom and work your way up. In a future blog, we’ll discuss effective strategies for evaluating the ideas you come up through feasibility testing.