How do you come up with a business idea?

Dan recently asked a great question on an old post from over a year ago titled “Start a Business in College”. Dan asked: How do you come up with the business idea? I’d really like to try starting a dorm room business but have no good ideas.

Well Dan, today is your lucky day as I have put together a bunch of ideas and resources for you and other student entrepreneurs to find a business idea to start from your dorm room.

The first thing to do is to think about what you like to do, consider all your interests. Make a list if you have to, it might help you out later! If you have a list of your interests, it may be a full of your hobbies, the sports you like to play, and anything else you enjoy doing. Now look at that list and think about each item and what kind of business you could start relating to that item.

At this point, do not limit your thoughts to just something you can start in your dorm room or your apartment, think of everything – everything from a large scale sporting goods store to a small lawn care business on the weekends. If you have ideas for businesses from your interests, now start to shave down the options by looking at which ones you could actually truly launch in your current situation – remember, think about your financial situation, your living situation, your lifestyle, everything. This should narrow your list down to one or two ideas that could work.

Wait, your list now has nothing on it anymore? OK well here are some more ways to come up with some business ideas to launch from your dorm room.

  • Go to the places you know – Brett at StartupStudents.com had a great post about going to different places you are already familiar with such as the bookstore, the music store, and the mall. Use these locations to spot new trends and new products that you can focus on.
  • Talk to your friends – what a better place to get business ideas that to shoot the shit with your friends over a couple beers? The longer you drink, the better the ideas get sometimes! But seriously, brainstorm with your buddies and see what kind of ideas you can come up with that would help out your daily life, which leads into the next point.
  • Focus on your age group – as college students, we are always running around from place to place doing a ton of different things. Just sit down for a few minutes and think about what would make the daily routine of a college student better, easier, or more efficient. If you can find a good service to offer to students, you can hit the gold mine very quickly! More on all of this in another post at another time!
  • READ! – and read lots! The best way to get new ideas is to consume as much information as you before reaching information overload and completely shutting down, or maybe you find a way to make information overload not happen at all? Anyway, the more you read, the more exposure you get to different areas of life, the world, business, whatever you want to read about. Check out news websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines, anything you can!

If these suggestions don’t work out for you, just keep looking for opportunities. Business opportunities are everywhere. Just think about the little plastic pieces that wrap around the end of the shoelace. Someone came up with that idea separate from the actual shoelace. Or paperclips, or staples, buttons! The important thing is to always keep an eye out for something that you think you could do that hasn’t been done or do better if it already has been done. Here are a couple ideas to run out of your dorm room as I sit through the last hour of work at my internship.

  • DVD rental business – rent your personal DVD collection to friends all along the hall and building. Charge a $1 or $2 per DVD, just be sure to keep record of who has your DVD incase it doesn’t get returned or it gets damaged so they pay for a new one!
  • eBay business – always a fast and easy one to start. Sell your own stuff, sell your roommates stuff (whether he knows it or not), sell other people’s stuff. Just make sure you keep some of the money for yourself! After having some success, look into carrying a small inventory of some products in whatever category you want.
  • Tutoring – easy enough right? After you have finished a few semesters, you could easily find some other students who are taking the classes you previously had and probably need some help. See if you link with some professors to have them promote your service!
  • Note Typing – Offer to type up students notes from lectures so that they are easier to read then hand written notes. Problems faced here are crappy handwriting like mine! Okay, maybe not the best idea, but worth a shot?
  • English major? How about editing assignments? – this one comes from Yaro of Entrepreneurs Journey and BetterEdit. He launched a proofreading business while in school and continues it now.
  • Custom Shot Glasses
  • Sunglass Sales

I hope these ideas helped you out Dan, as well as everyone else who reads Dorm Room Biz! I love answering questions like these, so if you have any thing you want to ask about anything, feel free to leave a comment or contact me and I will try to answer your question the best I can!

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5 Responses to How do you come up with a business idea?

  1. Jay Hamilton-Roth July 20, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    Get involved in the drop shipping business. Find manufacturers (one such list is at http://www.worldwidebrands.com) with products to sell. You advertise. They ship. You collect a percentage of the sale. No overhead / inventory.

  2. admin July 20, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    Drop shipping is always a good and easy business to start up if you can find the right product niche, that is the hard part!

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