In this article, I’m going to share the five ways that I come up with great business ideas. These five strategies are simple. They involve looking at businesses that already exist and change just one thing about that business to make a better product, a better brand, or a better business model. By the end of this article, you’ll start thinking like a successful entrepreneur. You’ll suddenly see all these opportunities and small business ideas around you.
1. Distribute Differently
When you’re trying to come up with good ideas for a small business, start by looking at the brands around you, think about what the business is selling and who they’re selling it to, then ask yourself how they may distribute that product differently.
When I talk about distribution, I’m talking about how the product gets from the company to the end consumer, a lot of entrepreneurs have had to rethink their distribution when COVID-19 hit their local economy.
For example, say someone started selling decor products, maybe they spent years trying to get the product into REI or another big retail store to carry their product. And then COVID hit. And those retail stores had to close, what then?
Many businesses have had to pivot to other distribution channels, such as selling directly to their consumers through their online stores. But there’s also a large group of businesses that have not made that pivot. And that’s an opportunity for you to start your own business
Think about the products you used to buy in stores all the time, which are easy to find online and aren’t. Is there an opportunity to start selling some of these products online. I’ll give you one example, and feel free to steal this idea.
Birthday gifts. Before COVID-19, if a friend was having a birthday party, I’ll usually go to the store to buy them a gift. That way, I could have the gift wrapped in-store, but nowadays, it just doesn’t make sense to order a gift online, unbox it at my place. And then buy the wrapping papers to make it look presentable. There’s an opportunity here for a savvy entrepreneur to create a better way for people to buy and send gifts to their friends.
Some ideas I’ve seen revolve around the concept of creating a box for a party or creating gifts that people can buy as a set. Here, you can create a few handmade crafts or buy some cool products, wholesale, wrap them up in a nice gift box, and allow your customers to enter their friend’s address and send the gift with a custom card. You can charge a premium for doing the service and boom. There you have it, a business idea in a neatly wrapped box.
2. Modify the Brand Marketing of Small Business Ideas
Here’s the hard truth. Creating a successful brand, all comes down to who can market it the best. Even if you have the best products with never seen before features. If no one sees it, then it doesn’t matter. This is also another low-hanging fruit opportunity for you to create a product by marketing it differently.
Another term to categorize these brands is Private Labeling. Private-labeled products refer to products manufactured by a single company to allow other companies to brand a product. You can visualize this as literally putting a sticker of your logo on an existing product. If you have ever bought anything from Walmart’s great value brand or Amazon basics, you have already seen a private label product.
The benefit of private labeling is minimizing the need to spend money on research and developing new products. And instead, take something that is tried and true and just market it differently.
When it comes to marketing the product, you can change who you market to and how you market it. Let’s take a pair of leggings. For example, you can take a pair of leggings and market them to discount shoppers who are just looking for something to wear every single day. Take the same pair of leggings and change your brand to target an affluent audience with better branding, use high-quality lifestyle photos and persuasive website, copy to elevate the perceived value of your product. You can now sell the same pair of leggings for double the price without changing the actual product because your brand targets a different audience and sells them a new experience.
Finding private label manufacturers is simple. You can use sites like Alibaba and add the private keyword label after your product name to find manufacturers who have products made just for you to change the branding.
3. Change the Design
This method is similar to private labeling, except it goes deeper in changing the entire design experience for the end customer. This could be changing the product’s design to make it more unique or changing the packaging design to make the experience more brand cohesive. If you have ever seen people in school carrying around a thermal bottle from brands like Hydroflask or alternative brands, then you have seen products that took an existing product and stood out with a different design.
Thermal bottles are virtually the same at its core, but brands can stand out by offering unique colors, designs, and shapes. It can apply the same principle to things that you use every single day.
Think about the keyboard that everyone has, but with unique designs and colors, or the classic coffee mug with witty messages. Now think about the brands that stood out to you because they had eye-catching graphic designs or brand colors. Design is a part of everything that we do in e-commerce, from the website, experience the post on social media, the final product, and the packaging that contains your product. It’s a blank canvas for you to make it unique to your brand, especially with design being the first thing people see when they come across your brand. Sometimes that could be the difference between someone clicking into your website or just scrolling past it.
Remember everything that makes up a product can be redesigned, whether it is the color printing method or the shape, it’s a blank canvas for you.
4. Play with Pricing
If you shop like me. You know, the first thing to do when shopping is to click the short price from lowest to highest. Maybe one day we can all shop without worrying about the price. But the reality is that product price is one of the biggest factors that help consumers decide on their purchase. Unless you’re an established brand with years of effort building up the perceived value of your brand, you likely need to be competitive with your pricing.
All product price needs to achieve two goals, covering the base cost and leaving enough room for profit. The question then becomes how much do I price my product?
The first step is to figure out your cost of delivery. Also known as COD. This is the total sum of all the costs involved to make your product ready for the customer. COD is made up of costs like your product costs, shipping costs, transaction fees, fulfillment fees, and labor costs. If there are any, once you get your cost of delivery, you can then determine your margins.
My general rule of thumb is to multiply my delivery cost by five to get the minimum product pricing I can accept because it will give me room to spend on payroll marketing and other operational costs.
Once you get your minimum price, you can check the market to see what other companies are charging for similar products. Make sure that you take it into account. Suppose the pricing is based on factors like offering more units per product, for example, a larger volume or more stickers in a pack, and their branding. In that case, I’ll give an example of a product I made recently where I had to be competitive in pricing.
5. Figure Out Another Function in Small Business Ideas
Businesses usually make products solve a problem. You can innovate two ways here. One, you can see if an existing product can serve multiple purposes. And second, you can think about if you can improve the products by adding a feature.
Let’s take a look at the first method. A great example of a product having multiple functions is Mason jars, while they were originally made to store jams. And Pickles, a few crafty entrepreneurs, helped make the Mason jar become the de facto decorating accessories of the early 2000s. After that, someone had the brilliant idea to poke a hole in the lid to make Mason jars into drinking containers. Boom, millions of dollars were made.
Another term to describe this practice is upcycling, but truly that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They can come up with great small business ideas by thinking of different functions for a particular product.
Keep an eye on sources like Pinterest for trends that repurpose products for other functions. If I were you, I’d go down the rabbit hole of the aesthetics like cottage core and see where they may be new product opportunities.
The second method is to innovate by adding a feature to an existing product. Think of the things you use daily and observe your surroundings, ask yourself, is there something that I would do differently to this product and make it better and unique?
Sometimes your next small business ideas can come from improving your own experience, using products that you see every single day. I hope these strategies help you brainstorm more business ideas. Let me know what you think about this list in the comments below.