Editor’s blog: Do you need a ‘burning idea’ to start a business?

Startups’ editor Lucy Wayment uncovers the different paths to entrepreneurship – and why anyone can do it if they want to…

Working in the fantastic start-up landscape, talking to inspiring entrepreneurs day in, day out, it’s not surprising people often ask us the same question: “Have you ever thought about starting your own business?”

And the answer is of course, yes, we’ve been tempted. But no one in the team has quite made that leap yet. It’s too easy to deflect the question with the simple response: “Ah, I’d love to, but I just don’t have an idea.”

But while that’s a valid comeback to a degree – you can’t start a business without a proposition after all – the longer I work in the sector, the more I realise business ideas come in all shapes and sizes, as do entrepreneurs.

Some Eureka moments just can’t be ignored. But others are less groundbreaking – and more a result of sector analysis or piggybacking on a growing trend.

So do you really need a ‘burning idea’ to start a business, or can the decision to leave your job and go it alone come first, followed by the pursuit of that perfect proposition?

The traditional entrepreneur

I always think of entrepreneurs as ‘ideas’ people. You know the type (and may very well be one yourself); they have lightbulb after lightbulb moment, often daily, seeing innovative ideas everywhere they look.

They’re risk takers, and are regularly cited as saying they could never work for anyone else. In a recent video on the site, a host of successful entrepreneurs from Adam Balon of Innocent Drinks to James Averdieck of Gu Puds shared what separates successful entrepreneurs from the everyday Joe.

And there’s certainly a lot of overlapping traits.

Actively looking for a business idea

But what if you’re more of a doer than a dreamer. I’ve always felt I fall into the former category, and spend a lot of my working life ensuring ideas are actually actioned.

Well, it’s possible to actively look for an idea – and there’s a number of things you can do to help get those creative juices flowing. In fact, we recently revealed just how to come up with a business idea, covering everything from building on a hobby to being inspired by travel.

Startups 100 business Housekeep was founded by ex-investor Avin Rabheru and it’s a start-up story that’s always struck a chord with me. Rabheru had a very methodical approach to coming up with a business idea (no doubt influenced by his time as an investor). He was looking for three key attributes: a large existing market, a fragmented supply base and scope to professionalise. The cleaning market ticked all these boxes and in just a couple of years Rabheru’s business has achieved explosive growth.

While not the most romantic of stories, often entrepreneurs become too preoccupied with finding a new and completely unique idea. Of course, you need to have a USP but there are still plenty of opportunities to disrupt existing markets and concepts with an innovative twist. Just check out our ‘What business to start’ feature to see how many of our ideas for 2016 involve revived trends.

Forget the idea it’s all about the execution

Of course, I’m not suggesting that the two options above are mutually exclusive. All ideas are ultimately backed up with market research – and often ideas evolve over time so that it’s hard to even pinpoint where they first came from.

What’s key is that you find a route to self-employment that works for you. Because if you’ve always dreamed about starting your own business, it would be a real shame to let the small obstacle of having no idea stop you.

In our ‘Are you an entrepreneur?’ feature, interestingly, the traits that are pinpointed as key to success are less about creativity and more about confidence, commitment and resilience.

As Seth Godin says “there’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them.” (We published this and 9 other inspirational quotes here if you still need that extra motivation push).

And that’s, undoubtedly, where the hard work really begins…

On Startups this month…

We have lots of great things to watch out for on the site this month; we’ve opened for entries to our prestigious Startups 100 so are on the hunt for fast-growing, innovative businesses to apply.

We’ll also be sharing the hottest ‘stupidly healthy’ food businesses to look out for, the 60 must-follow entrepreneurs on Twitter and some reactions to the recent crowdfunding news surrounding Rebus as well as changes to Dividends tax.

In my last post I looked at why there’s no better time launch a business and this month I’ve revealed you don’t even need an idea to get started.

So seriously, no more excuses.

And if there’s no more blogs from me for a while, I may just have taken my own advice…

You can find me tweeting @LucyWayment.

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