6 min read

What to Do If You Want to Start a Business But Have No Ideas

By Haley Davidson

Founder & Content Strategist, Gaia Content

Have you ever wanted to start a business, but struggled to come up with the right idea for a service to offer or product to sell? You're not alone. It can be overwhelming to come up with a business idea from scratch—but we're here to help. 🙌

There are a lot of good reasons to start a business or side hustle, even if you have no ideas. When you turn something you love into a business, work can become enjoyable instead of just a job. And let's not forget about the way entrepreneurship can help you reach financial independence. 💸

But starting a small business isn't a walk in the park. Success hinges on having a clear vision, understanding your target audience, and having a solid business plan.

Ready to begin? In this article, we'll cover the 5 steps you can take to start a business today, even if you have no ideas. Plus, a shortlist of our favorite business and side hustle ideas for 2024!

In this article:

5 steps to find your next business idea

It might seem overwhelming to start a business if you have no ideas, but don't worry—all it requires is a strategic approach and a bit of creativity. The steps below will help kickstart your journey to becoming a successful business owner.

Step 1: Get clear on your big "why"

Best-selling author and speaker Simon Sinek says it best:

"When we know WHY we do what we do, everything falls into place. When we don’t, we have to push things into place." 💡

Before you start a business, it's important to define your motivation and purpose. What is driving you to take on the challenges of entrepreneurship? Is it financial freedom, passion for a particular industry, or the desire to create something new? 🤔

Having a clear understanding of your "why" will not only keep you motivated during tough times—it will help you get clear on what you want to do. So take some time to sit down and think about your goals and values. Write down your passions, skills, and strengths. This will give you a solid foundation to build upon when brainstorming startup ideas.

Step 2: Think about the kind of life you want to create

You don’t have to sacrifice your personal life to start your own business. In fact, it's important to choose a business idea that aligns with and enhances your current lifestyle. Consider factors like your strengths, interests, and available resources before settling on an idea.

If you're a night owl, maybe starting a business that requires early mornings isn't the best fit for you. Or if you have a family and want to spend more time with them, maybe you should start an online business or look into a business model that allows you to create passive income. 📈

Here are a few questions to help you decide what type of business to start:

  • Do you want to be able to run your business from anywhere? Or do you want to a business that serves your local community, in-person?

  • What kind of businesses do you find most interesting? Do you want to learn more about real estate investing, e-commerce, or another industry?

  • Do you enjoy working with your hands or do you prefer to be at your computer?

  • Do you want to be involved in the day-to-day operations of your business, or be able to delegate them one day?

Thinking about your personal preferences and goals will help discover some new business ideas (or narrow down the ideas you already have).

Step 3: Identify an unmet need

One of the best ways to come up with a business idea is to identify an unmet need in the market and find a way to fill it. Look for gaps in existing products or services, or see if there's a demand for something that doesn't yet exist.

Think about what problems you encounter on a daily basis, and brainstorm solutions for them. You can also talk to friends, family, and potential customers to get their input on potential business ideas. 🤔

For instance, let's say you're an avid gardener and you notice that there aren't any high-quality, organic fertilizers available in your local market. You've been creating your own compost and natural fertilizers for years, and your garden has always flourished as a result. This could be your chance to turn your gardening passion and expertise into a profitable business. 🧑‍🌾

You could start producing and selling your own line of organic gardening products, filling a gap in the market and delivering a solution to a problem you've personally experienced. This approach to identifying an unmet need and filling it is a proven strategy for successful entrepreneurship. 🥳

Remember, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes a simple improvement or innovation on an existing product or service can lead to a successful business idea.

Step 4: Test your ideas on a smaller scale

If you're still unsure about which business idea to pursue, it's always a good idea to test it out on a smaller scale first. This can help you validate your idea and see if there is actual demand for your product or service. 🙏

For example, instead of investing a large amount of money into opening a physical store, consider starting an online shop first to gauge customer interest and gather feedback. Or if you're interested in offering consulting services, try offering them on a freelance basis before going full-time.

Testing your idea on a smaller scale can also help you refine and perfect your product or service, saving you time and resources in the long run.

Step 5: Be willing to pivot if needed

Starting a business is a dynamic process, and it's okay if your initial idea ends up changing along the way. Most successful entrepreneurs start multiple businesses before they find their "million-dollar idea." 🤑

Be open to feedback and willing to adapt your business plan as needed. Maybe your initial target audience was not as interested in your product, but you found a new niche market that is. Or maybe you realize that there's a more profitable aspect of your business that you want to focus on instead.

Don't be afraid to change course and pivot if you need to. Remember, the goal is to create a successful and sustainable company, not to stick rigidly to your first business idea. Trust your instincts and be willing to take calculated risks to achieve success. 🚀

Small business ideas to help you get started in 2024

Sometimes, the hardest part of starting a business is just getting started. If you're still struggling to come up with a good business idea, it might be time to choose any idea—and start taking action.

As best-selling author Mark Manson says:

"Life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway. ... Even if you win the lottery and buy a small fleet of Jet Skis, you still won’t know what you’re doing. Don’t ever forget that, and don’t ever be afraid of that.”

If you're ready to make a move and start your business this year, consider one of the tried and tested business ideas below. These business models have proven successful for many entrepreneurs:

  • Launch a creative agency📱

  • Offer social media marketing or graphic design services 🎨

  • Provide home cleaning and organizing services 🧼

  • Offer online tutoring or teaching services 📚

  • Sell online courses or digital products 📊

  • Offer virtual assistant or administrative support services 💻

  • Get into affiliate marketing or influencer marketing 🤝

  • Start a food delivery service or meal prep business 🍴

  • Launch an online store for e-commerce products 💻

  • Try dropshipping or print-on-demand services 🛍️

Remember, the best business idea for you is one that aligns with your interests, skills, and goals. Don't be afraid to start small and pivot as needed. With hard work, determination, and the right mindset, you can turn any idea into a successful business venture. 💪

Found a great business idea? Here's what to do next

Ready to start your entrepreneurial journey? Whether you've found the perfect business idea or you're ready to just start taking action, here are some tips for turning your business ideas into reality:

  1. Do some market research: Make sure there is demand for your product or service by researching your target audience, industry trends, and potential competitors. 👥

  2. Create a solid business plan: A well-crafted business plan will serve as your roadmap for success. It should include your business name, details about your target market, and, financial projections. 📝

  3. Develop a marketing strategy: Marketing is key to getting your business off the ground. Determine how you will reach and attract customers through social media, advertising, public relations, and other channels. 📱

  4. Build your network: Entrepreneurship is all about collaboration and building relationships. Attend networking events, join online communities, and connect with others in your industry to gain valuable insights and support. 💚

  5. Launch and learn: Once all the pieces are in place, it's time to launch your business! Remember that you will continue learning and growing as an entrepreneur, so be open to feedback and willing to adapt and improve along the way. 🚀

🎙Want to keep learning about entrepreneurship? Listen to the best podcasts for entrepreneurs here!

Moving forward

Whether you’re starting a business to become your own boss, achieve financial independence, or follow your passions, entrepreneurship is an exciting and rewarding journey. Remember to trust your instincts, be willing to pivot when needed, and never stop learning and growing.

Get more small business tips from Relay

Relay is an online banking and money management platform that lets small business owners open multiple no-fee business checking and savings accounts. If you're a small business owner (or hoping to become one), you won't want to miss our On the Money newsletter. At the start of each month, we'll answer questions like...

  • How close are AI robots to doing your corporate tax filings? 🤖

  • What's the US central bank doing to make payments lightning-fast? ⚡️

  • And is Taylor Swift's Eras Tour saving the economy? 🪩

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FAQs about starting a small business

Can I start a business with no money?

Yes, it is possible to start a business with little or no money. You can bootstrap your business with free tools—like social media—and use your existing skills and network to get started. If you truly need money upfront to start your business, you can always look for investors or consider a small business loan.

How do I know if my business idea is viable?

Conducting thorough market research and creating a solid business plan can help determine the viability of your business idea. You should also consider factors such as competition, target market, and potential profitability to evaluate your idea's potential for success.

How long does it take to start a small business?

The time it takes to start a small business can vary depending on the type of business and its specific requirements. It's important to remember that starting a business is an ongoing process and you will continue learning and growing as an entrepreneur. So don't be discouraged if things take longer than expected—stay persistent and focused on your goals, and you will see progress!