Episode 39: How to Generate Business Ideas Even When You Don't Think You Have Any

how to come up with online business ideas chantiluke

How to Generate Business Ideas Even When You Don't Think You Have Any

Episode 39

Today on The Chantiluke Podcast, I’m sharing 4 phenomenal ways to come up with business ideas. Even when you think you don’t have any.

Listen to learn

  • 4 Fantastic Ways to Come Up with Brilliant Business Ideas (even when you think you have none)

  • Why Your Experiences Are Goldmines for Viable Business Ideas


If you’ve ever though, “I’d love to start a business that uses my talents and passions, but I don’t have a single idea,” then this episode is for you boo!

I have 4 incredible ways for you to come up with dozens of business ideas when you “think” you don’t have any.

Ya’ll, I absolutely love the look on my students’ faces when they say “I don’t have any ideas!” And we try just one of these methods and they can’t even turn off the faucet. They’re just overflowing with ideas.

That’s going to be you! And I just cannot wait!

The four methods are: The Role Model, The Brain Dump, The Ethnographer, and The Inside Out Method.


Method 1: The Role Model

Often, when you are inspired to start a business, there is someone, that you really admire and aspire to be like. The Role Model takes that inspiration and requires you to design a business around it.

Here’s what I mean:

First, ask yourself who your business role models are.

Mine are Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield, Jenna Kutcher, and Jess Lively.

But you’re not stopping there. The purpose of this exercise is not to replicate what they’re doing.

Next, ask yourself what it is exactly that you admire about them.

Breakdown what it is about them, about their business that you admire so much. For Marie Forleo, I deeply admire how smart and impactful her instruction is all while being incredibly fun and engaging.. I want to do the same.

Ask yourself: What is it about them that you want to experience for yourself? Is it the products/services they create? Did they create something that blew your socks off and you want to create something just like it?

Finally, use that inspiration to create your own business vision.

Come up with a few iterations of your own business ideas that are inspired by what your business role models do. For example, I love the structured and actionable guidance that Amy Porterfield shares all the time. But what’s missing for me from her resources are the clear, actionable strategies for managing your mind and emotions as you’re building a business. That’s incredibly important so I strive to make those tools available to my students.

Recap: Think of your business role models; mine what you love about them; and then riff on what they do to create something of your own.

Method 2: The Structured Brain Dump

The Structured Brain Dump method is a lot of fun! Here’s how it works:

  1. Drop all of your ideas onto one page for 15 minutes straight.

  2. Group similar ideas.

  3. Give a name to the groups.

  4. Bask in your business savvy glory

Let me walk you through the Structure Brain Dump in more detail.

First, Brain Dump all of the business ideas you can think of for 15 minutes straight.

If 15 minutes sounds like a ridiculously long time to be brain storming, I’m glad. What usually happens is you’re going to be on fire for 3-5 minutes, and then you’re going to hit a wall afterwards. This is when most people walk away. They turn off the timer and believe, erroneously, that the only ideas that they have and will always have are already on the page.

Nope. Wrong. This dry spell is wonderful! You want to know why? Because what happens after the first 5 minutes is that your brain has to make more unique connections to solve the problem you’ve just presented to it.

You’ve already documented the obvious business ideas. Just because they’re obvious doesn’t mean they aren’t good. They’re just the ones that you can recall or create quickly. Your brain then has to come up with more unique business ideas than it had in the first 5 minutes.

After a few minutes of nada, you’ll feel the little twinge of something else come up. More ideas.

Group all of your similar business ideas

If you have 3 ideas that essentially do the same thing, group them and number it. For example, all of your ideas for a physical story belong in one group. All of your ideas for a graphic design business get grouped together.

Give every group a unique name.

Ex: Photography Business, Etsy Shop, Boutique, etc.

And look at that friend, you have (1) a page full of ideas when you swore you had none and (2) you have some structured ideas.

Method 3: The Ethnographer

An ethnographer is a researcher of cultures. The Ethnographer method requires you immerse yourself in different communities that you’re in and document the problems and challenges that you consistently notice. You’re the creeper who’s paying attention to everything so you can create a business solution. Genius, I know.

Here’s how it works:

Spend one week documenting repeated challenges you hear

If you’re an artist, then jot down all of the things your fellow artist colleagues keep commenting on. Keep your ears peeled whenever you hear someone say “I never…” “I hate it when…” “I wish…” Do the same thing for all the communities that you’re a part of.

At the end of the week, simply translate the problems that they have to a solution.

If you’re an artist, and you heard repeatedly from fellow artists that “I hate it that I don’t have enough space in my home to work on my projects undisturbed. When my partner, kids, etc. come home, I have to move all my stuff so my work doesn’t get ruined” then design a solution that solves that exact problem.

You do not need the exact details of your solution right now. You’re simply coming up with ideas.

Here’s what’s so helpful about this method: You have many identities. You’re not just a part of one culture or community. You’re a part of many. So that means you have many opportunities to observe and come up with ideas. The second thing that is so helpful about this method is that since you’re using your own identities, you are so much more likely to come up with ideas that you actually care about.

Okay friends, we’re rounding it up. Here is your last method for coming up with business ideas when you don’t have any.

Method 4: The “Me-Search” Method

The Me-Search* method is similar to the Ethnographer method because you’re mining lived experiences. But instead of focusing on the communities around you, you begin with your lived experience.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using yourself as the case study for business ideas. We are all special, but we’re not so radically different that the things you struggle with or want to see would not be shared by other people.

Ask yourself: What do I care about? What are the things I would like to see in the world?

Think of the experiences and challenges you had that you wish there was a solution for. For example, I wish I had education and guidance on defining my values in high school while I was applying to colleges. I wish someone had helped me see during high school that me I did my BEST at the beginning of a project because I could set a vision, detail what needs to be done, and then you hand it off. Guess what business idea that is? Self-Exploration for High School Students. (If this is something you’re interested in, hit me up because I want to do this for real)

Mine your own experiences and challenges. There is so much richness there!

(*Me-Search: One time in grad school, someone asked me what my research project was on and I was like, “Educational Outcomes of Black Students at Elite Liberal Arts Colleges.” And she said, “Oh, so it’s me-search” as if research and me-search should be mutually exclusive. While you’re not doing an academic research project here, you are starting a business. And coming up with business ideas is not any different from coming up with research topics.)

Okay, now that you’ve learned the techniques, put them into practice: Download the guide and generate your own business ideas.


intro and outro music: danosongs.com

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