Have you been spending countless hours sitting at a desk or a coffee-shop table trying to come up with that million-dollar business idea, only to cross each of them off your list for one reason or another? You might just need a change of scenery. You never know exactly where inspiration will strike, so get out of that chair, and take a look around: A brilliant startup idea could be just around the corner.
Whether they're filling a gap in the market or improving on concepts that are already out there, successful entrepreneurial ventures are ones that solve a problem. In a Forbes article on the subject, software engineer and tech entrepreneur Dane Maxwell said that coming up with profitable ideas is about finding the "pain" in a specific market and working to alleviate it. Here are eight places to find solvable problems — and, therefore, great business ideas.
Look around your house or apartment. What are some of the frustrations you encounter there? Dusty air vents? A messy bathroom? Unraked leaves on your lawn? If you're noticing these things in your own home, there's a good chance other homeowners are experiencing the same problems. The average person might complain about having to take care of these time-consuming household chores. By launching an in-home service business, you can give them a reason to stop whining.
The people who live near you can be a great inspiration for business ideas. Think about the demographics of your neighborhood or local community. If your town has a lot of working parents, an errand or child care service might be in high demand. A neighborhood with a lot of senior citizens could use independent home health aides. Are there a lot of dog owners nearby? Try a pet-care business, like grooming or dog walking.
If you want to start a part-time business outside your current job, ask your co-workers what kinds of products or services they're missing in their lives. Maybe someone else with a side business is looking for a bookkeeper or financial adviser. Others might be looking to enroll their children in affordable art or music classes. Small talk in the break room is bound to lead to at least a few viable ideas.
The grocery store
Are you a food lover? Seeing what's missing from the shelves at the grocery store or farmers market could help you come up with a made-to-order culinary business idea. Jams, baked goods and specialty diet items (gluten-free, vegan, etc.) are especially good choices for an artisanal food startup. Alternatively, you could test your gastronomic skills with ingredients from the supermarket and open up a restaurant or food truck.
While you might not actually open up a brick-and-mortar retail location, perusing your local mall might give you some ideas for a business of your own. You could launch a line of homemade natural cosmetics to rival the pushy salespeople from that kiosk, a clothing line to produce something different from the same old items in every apparel store window, or an online craft shop to offer personalized alternatives to generic card-store knickknacks.
Your child's school or day care
If you're a parent, you know that any product or service that will help your child is worth the money. Think about the gaps you see in the market, and next time you pick up the kids from school, ask other parents if they feel the same way. Not a parent? Ask family members or friends with children what kinds of things they want (or want improved) but can't currently find for their kids.
Have you ever done an exhaustive Internet search for a specific item that returned no results? In this scenario, you have three options: settle for something close enough, give up entirely or do it yourself. If you're the kind of person who chooses the DIY method (and can do it well), you have the opportunity to turn a frustration into a lucrative business. Check forums to see if others are searching for the same product(s). Then, open up an online shop to sell them. This can also work well for specialized service-based businesses.
If there's one thing people like to do on social media, it's air their grievances about everyday life. Most of the time, these types of updates are mundane (and probably a little annoying), but if you pay close enough attention to those hashtags and status updates, you might start to see some patterns emerging. Look for phrases like, "Why isn't there a…" or, "I wish there was a…" and see if you can feasibly offer a solution.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.