Exploring and sharing new ideas may not give you exactly the right idea for your own unique set of circumstances, but they can help fire your imagination and inspire you to the perfect idea that you can turn into a profitable business.
Steven Johnson, the author of Where Good Ideas Come From, says that ideas are not often something that appear in a blinding flash of inspiration. They more often than not come to people who expose themselves to new experiences and other ideas.
With that in mind, it’s also important to recognize that 2016 is a fantastic time to be an entrepreneur. There are so many exciting new technologies coming online that are, in turn, opening up new possibilities for creative and energetic entrepreneurs. So many new things to be exposed to.
What’s more, there has never been a time when starting a new venture is so cheap and easy. Modern website builders make creating cutting-edge responsive eCommerce websites a snap. Cloud based software services offer all sorts of integrations to streamline new businesses and reduce their administrative burdens.
So what’s the down side? There’s lots of competition. And I mean lots.
But, marketing and growth is for another day. For now, let’s get excited and motivated about starting something new. Here’s a look at my top ten business ideas (with permission for SME Pal’s small business ideas resource page) for 2016 that focus on low cost startup and potential for huge growth.
1. App that cancels unwanted subscriptions
How many of us have joined a gym, eventually stopped going, but continued to pay the subscription fee for months, if not years?
I’ve done it, and there are millions of people out there who are wasting money on unwanted subscriptions every day. That’s a big market for a clever little app that scans your bank bills, finds monthly subscriptions or direct debits, and cancels them (if they prove to be unwanted).
Unfortunately, you’ve already got competition in the form of Truebill.
But, there’s room for more than one fish in this sea. Pity I only found this now. It would have saved me a packet on gym, cable, and other bills that went unnoticed for way too long.
2. Smart, touch screen mirrors
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to keep track of the time while straightening your hair? Or, catch the latest news and sports headlines while in the shower?
The technology to make touch-screen mirrors already exists, but no-one has jumped on that bandwagon in a commercial way. Use existing tech to create a reflective touchscreen that acts as a mirror, but displays information outside the line of your reflection.
3. Floating house plants and bonsai
How awesome would it be to have a bonsai slowly rotating as it floats gracefully above its bowl? Sounds like science fiction? It’s actually super easy to do and looks very striking. Check out this striking video clip of a Japanese company that has perfected the technique using Bonsai.
Design some tasteful magnetic bowls. Wrap the root mass of the tree in a metallic cover and make sure you get the weights and balance right (this is the tricky part), so you get something like this:
Once you have some floating plants, start up a website and sell ’em online, or locally.
4. Hidden sculpture candles
The humble candle has been around for quite a long time in its standard form. Sure, there are scented candles and plenty of different shapes, colors and sizes, but the time is right for an update to candle 2.0.
Create boutique candles that reveal a sculpture as they burn down. Come up with your own ideas. Be creative. Come in at under $45 per unit cost. Then market and sell ’em via your local stores, and online. This is something that would do great on a platform like Etsy.
5. Online drone repair and maintenance service
Something like 45 000 drones were registered within two days of the Federal Drone Registration site going live. Potentially, another 400 000 more drones would have been sold over the holiday season, 2015 – 2016.
That is a lot of drones that are going to be flown into trees, buildings, power lines, people, and even other drones.
Set up a professional online repair service specifically for drones. Customers can mail their drones to you, have them repaired, and sent back in the post (or potentially delivered back to them via drone – Amazon style).
6. Solar powered parking lots for city commuters
No one enjoys sitting in traffic jams. What if you could park your car in a secure, shaded lot on the outskirts of town and catch electric shuttles (that run continuously) into work?
Buy a patch of land near a main highway. Set up a solar farm with panels that act as parking lot shade. Use the energy to power a fleet of electric shuttles.
The beauty is that people will spend less on fuel and city parking, and traffic congestion will ease up significantly. Plus, you’ll probably get tax and other benefits for reducing emissions and taking cars off the roads.
7. Solar powered air purifiers
Consider the problem of smog. No one really likes to breathe it in, but there’s more and more of it all the time.
Luckily, all you need in order to take a lot of harmful stuff out of air is to suck it through water. This could be powered by wind or solar (on the roof), before being fed into the building’s air system. It would also be a great way to combat pollution in cities.
People in countries like China are already prepared to pay $20 for a bottle of fresh Canadian air, so there is a “clean air” market.
8. Hip, stylish accessories for shoes
People spend a lot of money pimping out their rides. Why should shoes be any different? After all, shoes are a big part of any fashion statement.
Design and sell a range of hip accessories that can change the look and feel of a single pair of shoes. This will mean people can dress up or down but only spend big bucks on a single pair of nice shoes.
You can do everything from clip in flowers, to lace in wings, to stick on decals, to outrageous bling. There’s lots of money to be made by starting the newest fashion craze. Have fun. Be creative.
9. Caffeinated snacks
Everyone loves a good cup of coffee to wake them up in the morning (generally before having to speak to anyone at the office). But why should coffee be the sole provider of pep?
Think about other common, household food and snacks that might benefit from a bit of extra zing.
Start an online store and sell a range of foodstuffs that come with a bit of added caffeine, so that people’s lunchtime sandwich can also be their lunchtime pick-me-up.
10. ‘Twisted’ store for millennials
People, in particular younger generations, are looking for something different and unique that speaks to their particular lifestyles and sense of humor.
There are stacks and stacks of traditional products that could be “twisted” to appeal to a quirky new generation. Instead of making run-of-the-mill garden gnomes, change them up a bit and sell something like Zombie apocalypse garden gnomes.
A good way to find or create new products would be to follow trends on sites like 9gag. Get it right and you could connect with a huge, generally untapped market of younger buyers.
So there’s my list. What do you think? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments. If you’ve recently started a business based on an idea you found online, tell us about it.