Ideas are everywhere. It’s execution of good ideas — not the ideas themselves — that makes for successful businesses.
That said, uncovering real opportunities and fleshing them out requires some foresight and research. Aspiring entrepreneurs should generally stick with industries or subjects they are already well-versed in, since they’ll then be in the best position to spot opportunities and take advantage of them, says Bo Fishback, vice president of entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo., entrepreneurial research organization.
“If you don’t have a unique skill set in a space,” he says, “it’s going to be very hard for you to just jump in and compete with everyone else who does.”
The best ideas, Fishback adds, are those that solve vexing problems — and often spring from firsthand experiences. Of course, some trends, such as the aging baby-boomer population or the boom in online social networking, naturally present lots of opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Fishback recommends identifying the “smartest” people you can find in any industry you’re considering starting a business in and speaking with them extensively about the industry and the issues they face. These people will not only feed you ideas, but can also act as a sounding board for any ideas you have. Closely monitoring the news, blogs and industry Web sites also can help sprout ideas.
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