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


Today’s episode is all about coming up with business ideas.

Yep, if you’re strapped for ideas but you know you seriously want to start a business, then this episode is just for you.

If you’ve ever wondered to yourself, “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 of the faucet. They’re just overflowing with ideas.

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

So, let me stop chit-chatting and fangirling over ya’ll and get into it.

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

I’m going to detail each method for you. But don’t feel like you need to remember everything I say. I created a fantastic workbook for you to apply one (or more) of the techniques you learn today.

You Ready? LeGo.

Method 1: The Role Model

The Role Model is pretty straightforward. Often times, when we are inspired to start a business, there is someone, or someone's, that we really admire and inspire us. The Role Model takes the people that you admire to inspire business ideas.

So first, ask yourself: Who are the business folks that inspire you? Some of mine are Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield, Jenna Kutcher, and Jess Lively. I call them business big sisters because (1) I have 4 older sisters and I copied 99% of what they did growing up, I have such admiration for my sisters and (2) they’re all women. Ya’ll, you can tell I have a deep love for inspiring women. I went to a women’s college, 4 older sisters, badass single mom...I digress.

Ask yourself, who are my business role models?

But you’re not stopping there. The purpose of this exercise is not to replicate what they’re doing. Next, I want you to mine that role model.

Breakdown what it is about them, about their business that you admire so much. For Marie Forleo, I love and deeply admire how authentic she is, how diverse her experience and teachings are, and how much fun she seems to have in her business. I want that.

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?

You’re going to mine that role model to discover what you want.

And then you’re going to riff. Come up with a few iterations of your own business ideas that are inspired by what they 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 content and resources are the clear, actionable strategies for managing my mind, my emotions, my interior life. That’s incredibly important so I strive to make those tools available to my students.

So begin here with the 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 goes: first you’re going to drop all of your ideas onto one page. For 15 minutes straight. Then you’re going to group similar ideas. Then you’ll do a quick edit and boom, you have some business ideas.

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

First, you’re going to download the guide that goes along with this episode. When you do, you’re going to set a timer for 15 minutes and you’re going to brain dump all of the ideas you have in your head. For the full 15 minutes.

I want to you really stick it out for 15 minutes. Here’s what is going to happen: You’re going to be on fire for 3-5 minutes, then you’re going to feel like your well is dry. This 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 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.

But the valley, the time spent with nothing coming is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT! Do not bail when it feels itchy and uncomfortable. Just spend the minutes watching the discomfort because what comes next is just as valuable.

Your brain works for you. Always. Let it work for you by being patient with it while it’s coming up unique ideas. After a few minutes of nada, you’ll feel the little twinge of something else come up. More ideas.

Jot those down.

Once your 15 minutes are done, I want you to group similar ideas. If you have 3 ideas that essentially do the same thing, group them and number it. Next, name them. So you should have a few groups of similar ideas: Boutiques, Adult Education, Etsy Shop, etc.

Now, at the bottom of the page, list your business ideas.

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

The Ethnographer method requires you immerse yourself in different communities that you’re in and document the problems and challenges that they have.

An ethnographer is a researcher of cultures. They immerse themselves within the culture that their studying to be able to represent the inner workings of it. You can do the same thing.

It’s like you’re the cuckoo bird on the beach scanning for gold or something. Hey, don’t knock the hustle ya’ll.

Spend one week collecting all of the problems, challenges, unique challenges of the communities that you are a part of. If you’re an artist, then jot down all of the things your fellow artist colleagues keep commenting on. “I never…” “I hate it when…” “I wish…” Keep your ears peeled whenever you hear those phrases some up. 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. So if you keep hearing 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. The business idea is a solution to the problem of not enough dedicated workspace for artists without studios. You do not need the exact details of your solution right now. You’re simply coming up with the ideas.

Here’s what’s so helpful about this method: You have many identities. You’re not just a part of one culture. 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 starts with your experiences, challenges, and loves.

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.

Ask yourself: What do I care about? What are the problems or people that are very personal to you? What are the things I would like to see in the world?

It’s similar to the ethnographer method, but instead of focusing on the communities around you first, 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.

Think of the experiences and challenges you had. 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 told me “Danielle, you are a Scanner love, not a specialist. You thrive when you get to play a variety of roles, when you don’t need to do one thing forever. You are the BEST at the beginning of a project because you can 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, your own challenges. There is so much richness there!

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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Danielle Callendar