How to develop a solid business idea

We are very lucky to have Bobby Umar Joining us today to offer valuable and insightful business building advice!


Ideas are everywhere! Some of the best and brightest business ideas have come from people just going about their daily lives and finding inspiration. People will say, “I wish this product or that company would do this,” and thus a new business is born.

So how do you develop a great idea?  Before you quit your day job and try desperately to get on Dragon’s Den, you may want to engage in a few gut-checks. Let’s examine some of the best guidelines to both generate and build great business ideas.

Focus on the Problem

Identify problems first and then come up with a clever way to solve them. What is the pain point that people or businesses (your potential customers) are feeling? Most great ideas came from a problem that required a quick fix. Focus on your own area of expertise or interest. You will save time and hopefully find a problem that you can get excited about.

Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

If you could transplant your brain into someone completely different, you can see the world in a whole new light. For example, you may walk around the house or do your laundry with ease, but a person with mobility issues will have challenges.  This new lens may help you discover new ideas for products or services.

Brainstorm Without Judgement

This is harder than it looks. No matter what industry or setting, the one thing that every group finds challenging is holding back on judgement and critical analysis. The beauty of free brainstorming is the way thoughts springboard to new areas, ideas and opportunities. Have patience with the process; perhaps invest in a facilitator or friend and spend that extra time with an open mind.

Think Laterally

Every problem or idea has multiple dimensions to it. For example, if you want to produce a new “orange,” you can play with the size, shape, colour, smell, taste, aftertaste, packaging, or to whom it is marketed. Try to find ways to innovate across every single aspect – like product, business model, position in market, manufacturing process and distribution – and then maybe think about how your product can be “green.”

Get Feedback

Are you so in love with your ideas you aren’t in a position to fairly criticize them? This is where other people can help. What you really want are people who are good listeners, well connected, accessible and with expertise. The more diverse your pool, the better they will critique and solidify your idea. This is also a clever tactic to get them invested in you and your idea. Your feedback team can then become the “buzz agents” for your idea to spread the word!

Do Your Research

Building a business case – and eventually building your business – takes a ton of homework. You need to be able to answer any question and defend against any critique. Make sure you research your idea and the benefits to your target market. Think about your company, your customers, your competitors and your collaborators. Will people really pay for this? Everything you do must have a strategic rationale behind it. This will help refine your concept and sell your idea more effectively.

Ask the Right Questions

This is one of the most important parts of the process. Is there a need for your idea? Can you make money fulfilling this need? Your idea doesn’t have to be a revolutionary game-changer that no one in the world has ever considered (although that would be nice!). It has to make sense and it has to have a market. So second-guess yourself and ask the big questions.

Use Social Media

Social media is a fantastic way to crowdsource and get information or feedback. You can test ideas, products, and more. Social media is a powerful tool to amplify your reach, create a voice and establish a brand promise. The effort will also help you build a community even before you launch your business idea.

Build the Story

The best business ideas have a story around them. You need some way to connect with your customer so everyone “gets it.” Imagine the first cell phone description – “It’s a phone that goes where you go.” It makes sense now, but that first person selling it was probably a great storyteller. This story will clearly outline the “unique selling proposition” – the reason people will buy from you and not the others. Customers invest in people and they do it because everyone has a story.

So find that inspiring idea, build the case for it and start selling the story!


Bobby Umar is a Toronto-based motivational speaker who has spoken at TEDx 4 times and was named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership speakers. He is a Huffington Post contributor, author and a highly-regarded networking expert, as well as a social media and personal branding guru. Bobby founded the DYPB – Discover Your Personal Brand conference and recently launched a new 12-week program called “Networking Mastery: Turning ‘Lost Leaders’ into Thought Leaders“, focused on helping entrepreneurs ramp up their business.  Follow Bobby on Twitter @raehanbobby or visit his website,

Register now for the DYPB – Discover Your Personal Brand conference, August 14-15,2015 at the University of Toronto. Join 450 delegates, 50+ experts featuring 8 keynotes, 8 panels and 8 workshops.*

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