To be successful in business, an entrepreneur should have several business ideas out of which one selects the best option based on economical viability and technical feasibility


Your own experience


Look at the list of your interests, your experiences and your networks. Are there any possible business ideas that you can derive from your own past experience? Think about each type of experience and what possible business ideas you can derive from them.

What has your experience been as a customer in the market place? Have you ever searched all day for some items that you could not find in any store in your area? Think about the goods and services you have wanted at different times and that you have had difficulty finding.

Other people’s experiences

The people around you are potential customers. It is important to understand their experience trying to find goods and services that are unavailable or not exactly what they need. Listen carefully to what people say about their shopping experience.

Reach out to your family and friends and ask them  about the things they would like to find that are not locally available. talk to people from different age groups, social classes, gender etc. You can also visit community groups, colleges, etc. for a greater understanding of the market

Here are some examples of comments that would help with your search for a business idea:

  • “I cannot find a clean grocery store to buy vegetables .”
  • “The choice of flower vases in the shops are very limited.”
  • “There is no  entertainment joint specifically for youth in this town and the weekends are so boring.”
  • “I really need to buy some tailor made suits but there are no good tailors in this town.”
  • “There is so much waste paper on the streets. Somebody should do something about it.”
  • “I cannot find a decent plumber in this town. The ones I have hired do not have any experience in plumbing.”
  • “There is only one garment shop in town. But the sales lady is so rude. She also seems disinterested in showing the clothes to the customers.”
  • “There are so many medical clinics yet there are very few drugs stores which are poorly stocked in this town. To get certain medicines one has to travel for 10 kilometers
  • “There is no decent caféteria  near the college and it is hard to get a snack or a cup of tea when I want it.”
  • “Whenever my car breaks down, it is difficult to get it serviced quickly.”

Survey your local business area

Another way of discovering business ideas is to look around your local community. Find out what type of businesses are already operating in your area and see if you can identify any gaps in the market. If you live in a village or small town, you may be able to identify all the fields of business in the whole town. Visit the closest industrial area, markets and shopping centres in your area.

Scanning your environment.

It may be useful to think about business ideas by considering all the resources and institutions in your area. For example think about:

  • Natural resources
  • Characteristics and skills of people in the local community
  • Import substitution
  • Waste products
  • Publications
  • Trade fairs and exhibitions

Think of what is abundantly available in your area that could be made into useful products without harming the environment. Natural resources include materials from soil, agriculture, forest, mineral, water, etc. Perhaps there is good clay soil in the area that can be used for making bricks. It may be used for other business ventures such as making plates, cups or tiles.

Characteristics and skills of people in the local community

Consider whether the people in your area have some special characteristics or skills that could be useful for a business:

  • Are there people in your community who are good artisans, tailors or carpenters or who have specific skills creating items unique to your area?
  • Are there recent graduates looking for jobs who you could employ?
  • Are there caregivers, nurses or people who could offer services to children, the elderly or the sick?
  • Is your community digitally connected?
  • Is the infrastructure in your community well developed?

Waste products

Business opportunities can also be generated by using materials that have been previously used by both homeowners and businesses. Think about the possible use of waste materials for the production of other useful and marketable items. Recyclable waste products can be identified by analysing certain items to see how they are discarded..

Usually there is something that can be reused in things that we throw away. Recycling may be done with waste products that come from agricultural processing, household garbage, used machinery and appliances or industrial waste. People throw out food that could be used to make compost or animal feed. They also throw away paper, glass and aluminium that can be recycled. Think of things that can be made from what others thought was garbage.

Many industries dispose of useful materials. A clothing company might throw out small pieces of cloth that could be used to make something else. Plastics factories usually have materials left over that might be useful for insulation, stuffing for pillows or a new kind of fuel.

Is there a possibility that you could recycle something that is found in abundance in your neighbourhood? Is there a way of using resources more efficiently? Maybe you could offer a service to help individuals or institutions dispose of their waste in a way that is environmentally-friendly or maybe you can make something new out of the waste.

Import substitution

Think of anything that is imported that might be made locally. Some imported goods have high import duties, making them very expensive. You could investigate the possibility of operating a business that can easily make the imported goods locally.



Publications from the internet and other printed material may help you find ideas.

There are many sites on the internet that you can visit to find out about business ideas as well as franchise businesses for sale. There are also web-based businesses that you can search from home if you have internet connection.

Newspapers are a great source of ideas. They often describe types of businesses that you could start or products that you could provide in your area. The classified advertisements may give you ideas, as well as articles about business trends in other places.

Trade fairs and exhibitions

Organizations hold trade fairs for different goods or services. Attending these fairs may give you exposure to a number of new business ideas that you had not previously considered. Be sure to attend any trade fair for fields of business in which you may be interested.

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