How to come up with a business start-up idea?

Business Gatway participants share ideas. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Business Gatway participants share ideas. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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COMING up with a plan for a new business venture can be the most challenging part of the whole process. To make it easier, we spoke to three business experts about how best to go about coming up with your business idea.

Eddie Robb, Make It Social

Eddie Robb, founder of Make It Social.

Eddie Robb, founder of Make It Social.

Eddie Robb created Make It Social to remedy the stress of social booking and solve consumer frustrations. The company recently launched version two of Make It Social which allows people to set up all of their groups of friends and arrange multiple activities within the group.

Mr Robb believes that the very beginning of the entrepreneurial journey starts with asking yourself the right questions to increase your chances of success .

He said: “Ask yourself, what do you know that not everyone else in the world knows?

“What experience or skill set have you got that only a handful of other people in the world have?”.

Ask yourself, what do you know that not everyone else in the world knows? “What experience or skill set have you got that only a handful of other people in the world have?

Eddie Robb, Make It Social

“Then ask, how can I do it better?

“For me, it was my experience of travelling”, Mr Robb explains.

“I knew there were cool places out there that people wanted to see.

“Cooler than your usual Malaga, Magaluf type trip. I also had a load of experience trying to book my useless groups of friends on trips. With this experience I felt I was at least a few steps ahead of the game. With the drive to make an awesome business I felt I had a good chance of success.”

Administrate boss John Peebles. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Administrate boss John Peebles. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Writing a business plan was beneficial in the creation of Mr Robb’s start-up. Although it might seem daunting, he believes it’s a reflection of drive and commitment.

He says: “You’ll want to get cracking straight away and you may not even look at it again but it will make you think hard about the areas of business you’ve not yet thought about.

“The other part of this is that if you don’t have the drive to do a simple business plan, you’re not yet cut out for business and you’re not excited enough about the idea.

“There are going to be much much harder challenges ahead if you actually get this rolling, the business plan is the easy start.”

Carolyn Maniukiewicz, director of Ideas in Partnership and founder of Enterprise Partnership Scotland.

Carolyn Maniukiewicz, director of Ideas in Partnership and founder of Enterprise Partnership Scotland.

John Peebles, Administrate

John Peebles is the CEO of Administrate - an Edinburgh firm based at the CodeBase technology incubator.

Adminsitrate develop software to help clients such as PwC and the University of York run online training programmes. The company has doubled in size every year for the last four years, securing £1.7 million in an oversubscribed funding round in December led by Scottish angel syndicate Archangels.

“I think one of the best ways to come up with a great idea is to find a job and work it”, Mr Peebles says. “Very quickly you’ll find problems and inefficiencies that need to be solved, which the company you’re with (and others) will pay to resolve.”

The 34-year-old chief executive believes that “ideas are worthless”.

“Execution is everything when running a business. At any given time there are at least 6 other people around the world working on the exact same idea, no matter how unique you think you are. If you can out execute them, you’ll find success.”

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Coming up with a business idea is just the beginning of a steep learning curve but John believes continual learning will keep you on track. “Read everything you can, talk to people in your industry who are ahead of you on the road, and perhaps most importantly, when you fail, make sure you learn something. Don’t just ascribe failure to chance or ignore what happened, treat it as a genuine learning opportunity or you’ll be doomed to repeat the same mistakes.”

Carolyn Maniukiewicz, director of Ideas in Partnership and founder of Enterprise Partnership Scotland.

Enterprise Partnership Scotland (EPS) is targeted at companies from the technology, energy, science, food or service sector – and offers support to those that show high growth potential. T

The programme is now in its sixth year and has helped establish 82 companies to date.

“I think it is essential for all businesses to have fresh ideas, not just start-ups”, Ms Maniukiewicz explains. “There is no point having one great idea and then that’s it. It’s crucial to always come up with new ideas and innovate.”

Reading newspapers can give you all kinds of inspiration and your business idea might just be inside.

She continues: “It’s possible to look through a paper and come up with a range of ideas, you just need to think creatively. For example, if a large housing development is due to be built, what else could be utilised there, such as playgroups or cafés.

“Particularly now with the downturn in the oil and gas industry there is opportunity available if you look in the right place and think outside the box.

“People who may have always had a comfortable income but are now in a more difficult situation could be sitting on a great business idea they have never thought to bring to life.

“I would also suggest getting a business mentor, who can help advise you in an impartial capacity.”

“Ask yourself, what do you know that not everyone else in the world knows?

“What experience or skill set have you got that only a handful of other people in the world have?”