Work on
your brilliant
business idea
step 2
In this step, we cover your business idea.
1 If you don’t have a business idea, we look at some places to
find one.
2 We look at how to supercharge your idea.
We check it genuinely meets customer needs.
We also look at simple ways to protect it.
3 Finally, we pick a good name for the business.
How to come up with a good business idea
Look very hard for problems
The best business ideas don’t come out of laboratories, they
come in response to a customer’s unsolved needs. Keep your
ears open for problems. The larger they are, the bigger your
potential business. It can help if you know a particular indus-
try or customer group inside out, as this can get you closer to
such problems.
16 brilliant start-up
But don’t worry if you are not in an
industry. Often a fresh pair of eyes can
see the obvious solution that all the
incumbents are too close to notice.
Listen out for phrases like: ‘If only…’, ‘I wish’, or ‘We can’t do
that’. Get people to describe their dream product or service, or
describe their biggest annoyance.
Look for change
Change is your friend. Many opportunities pop up when indus-
tries or populations go through periods of change. This can
include:
New legislation. For example, climate change will bring
with it rafts of government legislation. This will throw up
many opportunities for nimble start-ups.
Health/living trends. When the economy does well, there
is a move for ‘premiumisation’ – giving basic products a
‘posh makeover’. Ice-cream got the Häagen Dazs makeover,
coffee by Starbucks, chocolate by Green and Blacks,
beefburgers are currently being tarted up. What else could
do with a makeover? Two great websites for this are
often a fresh pair of eyes
can see the obvious
brilliant example
Keith Mills was running a smallish advertising agency in London. He had
British Airways and American Express for clients. American Express wanted
a new reward for its members. BA then mentioned how it had spare
capacity on its flights and were wondering what to do with it. He put two
and two together and came up with ‘Air Miles’, and went on to build an
international business. He recently sold out, netting a personal fortune of
over £150 million.
Work on your brilliant business idea 17
www.trendwatching.com and www.springwise.com
which publish trends and business ideas from around
the world.
New technology. This can open up new markets, but a
word of warning. It’s easy to get seduced by the excitement
of new technology. But before plunging in head first, always
ask: ‘What fundamental problem is this technology solving?’
Technology often has the habit of being a £2,000 answer to
a £200 question.
Look overseas
Many brilliant ideas are simply imported. Perhaps you’ve found
something on holiday or a work trip you think would be bril-
liant in the UK?
However, be aware of the often subtle cultural variations that
exist.
brilliant example
An American couple moved from Seattle to London and missed their
coffee so much, they launched the Seattle Coffee Company, hiring space in
Waterstone’s bookshops. A few years later they sold out to Starbucks, and
were one of the few people to make money out of the coffee boom (other
than city centre landlords).
brilliant example
After studying in the US, I set up the first student yearbook company in the
UK. However, the US had large amounts of ‘collegiate spirit’ while most
British students only wanted to remember their specific course, and were
more interested in ‘snog charts’ than exam league tables!

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