Finding a profitable business idea is one of the biggest challenges aspiring solopreneurs face and often leads to perfection paralysis. I know, I’ve been there.

So, let’s make it easy. Below is a simple framework that will not overwhelm you.

Keys – don’t overthink! Give yourself a limited time to accomplish the steps and get it done.

The Problem with Brainstorming in a Vacuum

Most people start the idea process by locking themselves in a room, staring at their computer screen, and trying to come up with something unique. They’ll make lists, mind maps, and whiteboard outlines for days or weeks.

That might surface a good idea or two, but it usually leads to overthinking, frustration, and ideas that are disconnected from what the market actually wants (or needs). Ever create a course that nobody bought?

In my experience, this approach is not a recipe for success.

Common Advice That Falls Short

If you’ve shared your brainstorming struggle with others, you’ve probably heard something to the effect of: “Just follow your passion!” or “You’ll know it when you see it.”

I also don’t love this advice. Of course, following your passion is certainly important. But it’s not the complete picture. Some passions simply aren’t profitable.

And for the “You’ll know it when you see it” crowd? Eureka moments can and do happen but hoping that you’ll get a sudden strike of ‘idea lightning’ is like playing the lottery. Don’t wait for the muse to strike.

A Smarter Approach to Idea Generation

In my experience, the best ideas don’t come from brainstorming in isolation or waiting for some epiphany. The best ideas come from a deliberate process of research, experimentation, and incremental iteration.

And you can think about this in three simple steps:

Start with a Small, Hungry Market

Instead of trying to come up with an idea first, start by identifying the skills and knowledge you already have.

Then, work on moving from that broad topical area down to something a bit more niche. For example, you might have knowledge about digital marketing (topical area). But that’s awfully broad. You want to be more specific.

Digital marketing (broad topical area) → SEO (core topical area) → Newsletter SEO for Creators (niche)

The more specific you get, the more you can find people actively searching for solutions to a specific problem.

Then you want to figure out where people are already spending money trying to solve that specific problem.

Some great places to do your research: bestselling books, popular courses, trending products, forums like Reddit, Quora, and Facebook groups. And YouTube, of course.

A key point here – limit the amount of research you do. Set a timer so you don’t fall down a rabbit hole.

If people are already gathering around a specific problem and paying to have it fixed, you know there’s demand.

Immerse Yourself in Conversations

Once you’ve honed in on a specific problem, you can dive into the conversations people are having. What are their biggest pain points, obstacles, and goals?

When you join conversations, you’ll spot patterns and gaps in solutions that are currently in the market. And after a while, you’ll develop a sense of what people really want, which is the key to building your profitable offer. Posts on LinkedIn and in Facebook groups are a great way to start these conversations. Don’t be shy.

See how much better this feels than being locked in a room with a blank screen?

Craft Your Unique Solution

When you have insights from people who are ideal customers, you can develop a tailored solution that ties together:

Run your idea by some ideal customers or people in your network for feedback, and refine your offer based on what resonates.

Bottom line: When you focus on solving a real, visceral problem for a specific group of people, you’ll have a much better chance of finding buyers.

Here’s how you can act on this advice today:

With just 60 minutes of thoughtful research, you’ll uncover a ton of raw material to inform your idea.

Now, get started!

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