Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Five Ways To Discover Business Ideas That Work For The Greater Good - Forbes

Five Ways To Discover Business Ideas That Work For The Greater Good - Forbes

Five Ways To Discover Business Ideas That Work For The Greater Good - Forbes

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 09:16 AM PDT

Entrepreneurs can make a meaningful difference by starting a purposeful business. Use these principles to discover and validate socially-conscious ideas that can have an impact on your community.

John Schnobrich on Unsplash

For many entrepreneurs, the key motivation to start a business is seeking to solve an everyday problem or inconvenience—quite often one that you yourself have experienced. This can serve as a great motivator, helping provide the passion you need to avoid burnout and successfully deal with the many obstacles that'll come your way.

However, many find their entrepreneurial ventures to be even more fulfilling when they find an idea the truly works for the greater good of society. Though finding a way to support yourself financially and help bring about societal change may feel like they're in direct opposition with each other, meshing the two is far from impossible.

This became clear during a recent interview I did with Cat Noone, founder and CEO of Iris, as well as a conversation with Mike Kogan, ambassador relationship manager with Compel America. Here are their insights on finding business ideas that work for the greater good:

1. Start With Solving Your Own Problems

As with other successful startup ideas, a business concept focused on the greater good will usually begin when you recognize a need (or gap) in your own life or community.

"The idea for Iris came from me being in the position of a user," Noone explains. "I was living overseas and I looked at my boyfriend and realized that if we were to get in a car accident or something similarly catastrophic at the time, we'd be screwed."

In Noone's situation (waiting for a permanent visa to arrive), her passport wouldn't help much with the police after something like an accident. If she had to go to a hospital, she'd be without a way to reach her family, nor would her doctors know who to immediately contact.

It was a serious concern, and one where she certainly wasn't alone. This led her to start developing the emergency communications app that'd become Iris. By identifying noteworthy issues in your own life or community, you already have a good starting point.

2. Speak With Your Audience

Beyond simply solving your own problems, much can also be learned from better understanding the challenges of others in your community. Take fellow guest Mike Kogan's example.

"Our goal at Compel America is to help eradicate bullying," Kogan explains. "But what we see, is that often, anti-bullying efforts only focus on one group—kids getting bullied. The problem is much broader than that. It involves parents, educators, employers and even the bullies themselves. When seeking validation for a socially conscious idea, you need to be mindful of the multitude of groups that are impacted by your core problem."

It can help to take a step back and look at your business idea in a broader context. While there may be one group that's your primary focus, any concept centered around the greater good will have an impact that reaches beyond just that initial target audience.

Speaking with others who'd be impacted by your product or service will prove essential for gaining a better understanding of how the concept would work in the real world.

3. Use Your Network

For Noone, using her own connections was a valuable initial source of validation and feedback.

"I'm fortunate enough that in the tech community there are a ton of people working on the road… the majority of them have older parents or older grandparents who Iris would apply to. Over the course of my time in tech and design so far, I made it a point to really build up a network," she explains.

Noone adds, "I'm not one for really tapping into favors, but at this time I reached out to everyone I knew." This mindset even helped her get in contact with medical professionals, another key audience for her emergency notification app.

"I also was connected with a doctor who worked on my grandfather's team when he was in the hospital for end-stage cancer. You don't forget those people, and depending on the scenario, they usually don't forget you either," Noone explains. Taking time to build relationships now, regardless what stage your idea is in today, will help you find the people best-suited to help you in the validation process.

4. Do As Much Outreach As Possible

Your own network won't often provide all the answers you need.

"You have to be willing to put yourself out there in order to get feedback," Kogan explains. "Emails, phone calls, even social media outreach. When you fully explain the problem you're trying to solve and how you hope to address it, you'll be amazed at how many people will be willing to provide their feedback."

These sentiments were also echoed in my interview with Noone, who noted that she used connections in medical startups and even posts on Twitter and Facebook to get in contact with doctors. Though not every outreach attempt will yield a response, expanding your reach will help you better gauge your idea's potential impact.

5. Start Building

As important as it is to seek validation for your idea, you can't present a theoretical concept without eventually having something concrete to back it up.

According to Noone, entrepreneurs need to ask themselves, "At what point are you kind of over-validating? Are you asking the right questions that are actually getting the answers you need, or are you asking the wrong ones? Did you get a lot of no's, did you get a lot of yeses, are there mixed feelings about it? There needs to be a time when you scale back validation work and finally get to building."

When you start to build your own solution or partner up with an existing franchise business that targets the problem you want to solve, you'll be able to get better validation in your local community as people start interacting with your product or service. Continual iteration and testing will ensure that your idea accomplishes your initial goals.

Entrepreneurs really can make a meaningful difference through a purposeful business. As you use these principles to discover and validate socially-conscious ideas, you'll create solutions that can have an incredible impact on your community—and possibly the entire world.

Shoestring Business Ideas - MinuteHack

Posted: 05 Apr 2019 12:00 AM PDT

You can start a business these days for a lot less money than years ago, especially if it is an online venture. There are some ideas that will still take a lot of money to get off the ground, but there are some that will need very little investment at all.

House Cleaning

There are so many people leading busy lives that they do not have time to clean their homes themselves. There is a high demand for house cleaners and all you need is a few basic skills and the ability to do a good job consistently. The materials and cleaning products are usually supplied by the person whose home you are cleaning and perhaps all you need to purchases is some overalls to protect your clothes.

Mobile Hairdressing

If you are a hairdresser, consider setting up a mobile business. There are lots of reasons why people cannot get to a hairdressing shop, such as ill health or children to care for. Some just prefer to have their hair done in the comfort of their own home. Apart from the few tools you need and transport to get you about, there is very little cost in setting up as a mobile hairdresser.


Most people like to enjoy their gardens in the spring and summer months but not everyone wants to do the work needed, or they just do not have the time.  You can generally use their own equipment, and all you need to supply is your labour. If you are green fingered in the slightest, gardening could be a good way to earn your living.

Online Tutor

If you are very knowledgeable about a particular subject you could offer your services as an online tutor. You will find pupils of all ages from youngsters who are struggling with the subject at school to older people who are trying to earn new qualifications.

You need a computer, a reliable Internet connection and, as with all businesses, you should have a website. Don't let the cost stop you from moving forward with your idea, as there are pay monthly websites, which will help you to get started. This stops the large outlay at the beginning of your idea and means you can start earning some money before the next payment is due.

Dog Walker

If you love dogs and walking, this could be the ideal business for you to start. People love their pets but sometimes leaving them at home all day on their own is unavoidable. This is where dog walkers come in. You pick up the dog and take them for a walk; it is as simple as that. Sometimes dog walking can be needed because someone is ill and not up to the task, or they just do not have time but do not want their dog to suffer.

Whatever the reason, often people build relationships with the animals they walk and very soon it does not feel like a job at all.

If you have a skill or talent that someone else lacks, they will gladly pay for your services, you just have to let people know you are in business.

Students to pitch business ideas at New Venture competition April 12 - Central Michigan Life

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Sixty-five students will compete in 35 teams in the ninth annual New Venture competition from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on April 12 in the College of Education and Human Services building events center.

The competition will allow Central Michigan University and Michigan Technological University students to compete for more than $100,000 worth of prizes. It consists of three rounds, with a student gallery and two-minute pitch competition.

New Venture aims to teach students to use the business model "Canvas" to develop their business ideas and improve their own business model. Judging of the competition will simulate the process of entrepreneurs presenting their business to early stage investors. 

This year's competition took eight months of preparation, as students developed their ideas and faculty led 12 workshops aiming to help students launch businesses.

The competition first began nine years ago with CBA dean emeritus Charles Crespy, said CBA coordinator of events communication and marketing Jessica Meyers.

"The competition is extremely beneficial to students because even if they do not win money to launch their business, they have gained skills they cannot learn in the classroom," Meyers said. 

Students will pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges, and audience members will vote on their businesses. More than 75 industry professionals will be in attendance to judge the competition. 

The top award is $25,000 for the David and Janice Underwood Best Overall Venture. Teams can also win special categories, including "The Korson Family Highest Growth Potential Venture," "David and Susan Roberts Best Social Venture," "Most Impact on Michigan Venture," "Best Technology Venture" and "Best Lifestyle Venture."

The competition is open to the public. Those who wish to attend the event must register on Eventbrite by April 10.

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