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How to generate business ideas that work for you

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At any one point in time, there are usually two broad categories of lady entrepreneurs.

One group comprises women who have ample funds lying idle in their bank accounts, but have no idea what sort of business to set up. The other is composed of aggressive women with lots of lucrative business ideas and no clue where to get the requisite seed capital to open a business.

In these circumstances, the second category of ladies has the advantage because financial institutions are always ready to come to their rescue. It is the former group, with king size accounts but without necessary knowledge on how or where to invest their idle funds, that faces the biggest hurdle.

Bad business decision-making skills can result in the loss of significant financial resources as business idea after business idea is explored.

Forced into business

Let’s take Belinda, 40, who faced the axe a few years ago through a routine restructuring process at a local bank. Armed with Ksh2 million as golden handshake, she was pushed into the deep blue sea called free enterprise. After a few weeks of soul searching, Belinda set her eyes on the lucrative beauty industry and decided to open a high-end salon and spa in one of the leafy suburbs of Nairobi.

The beauty industry was neither in Belinda’s professional skills list nor academic orientation. Half of the money she had was spent on scouting, sourcing and securing business space in the suburb. The premises were set in an upmarket area with the aim of targeting high-end clientele.

The other half was spent securing modern salon equipment from foreign suppliers she had stumbled on on the internet. A month later, Belinda’s salon and spa opened with one hair stylist she had gotten through a referral. Left with no funds to execute an elaborate marketing campaign to invite clients to her new business, Belinda resorted to word-of-mouth marketing.

Unfortunately, this did not generate enough business to meet the Ksh70, 000 rent required for the first month. The business closed down and her equipment was held in lien pending payment of first month’s rental arrears. Belinda’s state of health went down with her business. She is still alive but very devastated – and very broke. And Belinda is not the only one to suffer such misfortune with first-time business.

Belinda’s problem could have been avoided if she had undertaken intelligent business idea generation, thorough market research and efficient allocation of start-up funds between business registration, setting up, rent and marketing.

Intelligent idea generation

So today, let us start with the key item: Intelligent business idea generation. After all, there’s no point investing funds in market research and so forth if your idea is going nowhere in the first place.

The following tips will come in handy in helping you come up with good ideas.

  • The first source of business ideas is your curriculum vitae. Your current job description could be your micro-consultancy on the other side of the fence. Not all clients will move with you to your business but with time, after you build a strong brand image, they will definitely jump ship because it is you they believe in and not your former employer.
  • You may also want to list all your hobbies and extracurricular activities. This list of hobbies may be harbouring a very lucrative business.
  • If you love baking, you may want to start with that. If you love drinking alcohol, you could set up a home pub. If you love weddings, you could help with logistics management for your friends’ weddings at a fee. Your style of unwinding could be your next big thing.
  • Providing answers to modern inconveniences is another way to generate ideas. M-PESA was formed by a fellow who was really inconvenienced by the long banking queues of yesteryear. Today, bank transactions can be handled in the blink of an eye.

So observe your thoughts while you are sitting in traffic, rushing to beat the supermarket closing time after work, leaving your children in the care of a nanny you may not trust or wondering how you are going to replenish your work wardrobe in spite of your thin wallet.

The moment you hear yourself say, “I wish someone would…” then that is your business idea.

  • Garbage dumpsites are another interesting place to look for business ideas. There are all sorts of materials you could recycle – but simply recycling for recycling sake may be the idea you want. For example, old bottles are being transformed into beautiful bulb holders and cups every day.
  • Complaints from peers concerning loneliness, break-ups and depression is huge business for professional counselling services. Business mentorship, motivational speaking and the laugh industry thrive on the need for the middle class to stay happy and avoid life and business stresses.

Starting a business is not easy, but do set up a business around a skill you love most. Be in the right business and avoid wasting your valuable resources.

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MAINA GACHANJAHhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Maina Gachanjah is a Marketing Consultant at Juhudi Investments Consultancy. Email: [email protected]

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