Are you struggling to find a good business idea? If, like many aspiring entrepreneurs, you are in the earliest stages of building your business, you might have two reasons:
- You have no ideas!
- You have too many ideas!
In this post, I’m going to introduce an exercise to help you come up with a number of potential business ideas in order to find the most promising. If there is a lack of ideas in your struggle this will help get them flowing. And if you have too many ideas, you can narrow them down.
Turn passions, problems and fears into business opportunities
This exercise is called the 7/7/7 exerciseand it will help you come up with a list of “starting ideas” that could become the foundation of your business. First you will develop twenty-one ideas in three categories (hence the “7/7/7”), then you will narrow those ideas down until you find the most promising one.
In the 7/7/7 exercise, you will develop ideas in three categories:
- Problems you want to solve
- Passions that drive you
- Things that you are afraid of
These three categories – problems, passions, and fears – provide a framework for generating powerful ideas, some of which can eventually become viable business models.
Why three sentences with seven ideas? To be honest, it’s a little arbitrary. But we’ve found that twenty-one is a good sweet spot for ideas to work with. However, you can always make changes if you’re struggling to come up with seven ideas for each category, or if you’re overflowing with ideas and can’t narrow them down to twenty-one.
Either way, the 7/7/7 exercise will get you in the right direction when it comes to coming up with the right idea to build your business!
And that’s all we shoot at at this stage: direction.
Put the 7/7/7 exercise into action
This is how the 7/7/7 exercise works.
The first step is to find something to write about. It can be sticky notes, a whiteboard, or just a notebook – whatever works best for you. What matters is getting the ideas in your head somewhere you can see them.
The next step is to work out seven problems, passions, and fears that could serve as the basis for your business idea. Don’t hold back – just bring them all to your whiteboard or notebook. You might be surprised at what you come up with.
Next, look at the list of twenty-one items and remove the ones that don’t make sense as business ideas. Maybe it’s because they don’t have a passion for you or they just aren’t realistic.
When you’ve got rid of the ones that don’t make sense, see what’s left. With the passions, fears, and problems remaining, take a few minutes to figure out which ones are causing something for you. What does your stomach tell you about each and every one of them? Think about how this could be turned into a product or service. It’s okay if you don’t have a clear picture of what this might look like – as we said earlier, we’re just looking for one direction at this point.
If you’d like to see the 7/7/7 exercise in action (including examples from Pat Flynn’s brain), check out the video below.
Next step: test your business idea
So what did you think Did the 7/7/7 exercise help you get closer to a business idea that you are passionate about, that solves a common problem, or that addresses a fear that you and others share?
Hey, maybe your new business idea is one that does all three of these things?
Obviously, this business idea generation exercise is not the end of the road in developing your idea and turning it into a viable business. This is just one of the crucial first steps in developing a successful business idea and attracting your first customer.
In fact, the video above is straight from the third lesson of Smart From ScratchOur course is designed to help you do just that.
If you want to turn what you came up with in the 7/7/7 exercise into an honest deal, then this is what you want to check out Smart From Scratch. No matter what, the 7/7/7 exercise will give you a good starting point, along with some ideas about what you are doing Not want to do with your business. And it even gives you the opportunity to learn about yourself in the process.
A few more resources to help you find your best business idea
There are many ways to come up with a great business idea and the 7/7/7 exercise is just a tool. Here are a few conversations from the SPI podcast and AskPat Archives dealing with the strategies and complexities of generating business ideas.
AP 0591: Is Keyword Research Still a Great Way to Find Business Ideas?
What happened to good ol ‘keyword research? Is there still a viable way to find a niche?
SPI 046: Building a lucrative business with no ideas, no expertise and no money with Dane Maxwell
Dane Maxwell takes an unorthodox approach to business building. He joins an early episode of the SPI podcast To share their point of view on how to hold back if you focus too much on ideas too soon.
AP 0961: How do I choose an idea and continue with it?
What if you have two really good business ideas and just can’t decide which one to pursue? Luis asks that in AP 0961.
Make it messy to find your great business idea
Developing a great business idea shouldn’t be clean and simple. It’s a messy process! However, if you are ready to come up with a number of ideas and search through them to find the gems – using the 7/7/7 exercise, for example – you are on the right track to building a viable business. If you need help with every other step in business building – from discovering your niche to researching customers, to positioning your business and beyond – read Smart From Scratch.