Small Business Ideas

Small Business Ideas

Small Business Ideas

A common problem for aspiring entrepreneurs is how to come up with a business idea. Many individuals want to quit their jobs, be independent and start a small business, but cannot manage to come up with the right idea. Fortunately, there is an enormous amount of helpful information out there to assist in getting started.

This article is not so much a legal article; rather, it is an article that offers some helpful tips and resources to aspiring entrepreneurs so they can find their right idea. With that said, it’s important to point out that — and this is only my opinion — there is no such thing as the “right idea” for a business. Rather, an idea is just the beginning of the process, and, to build a successful business out of that idea, you’ll need to understand that you’ll be engaged in a continuing process of modifying the idea based upon feedback from customers, mentors and other experts. In other words, once you’ve come up with an idea, surround yourself with mentors and experts, and engage with your customers as you execute on that idea. In that sense, consider your initial idea to be a working hypothesis to be refined over time, based upon feedback.

Ok, enough introduction, here are some great resources to help you with brainstorming:


– (This is an incredible web site filled with video interviews of successful entrepreneurs. Get a subscription and listen to the interviews whenever you have time. Even though I’m a lawyer, I subscribe and regularly listen to interviews to get helpful ideas for my law practice, which is a small business, after all.)

Stanford’s entrepreneurship e-corner (This is similar to mixergy, but the interviews are less frequent, and most of the interviews are with larger, venture backed startup companies.)

This article about the entrepreneur Noah Kagan (Yes, it’s only one article, but it absolutely helps to read it to understand how one prominent entrepreneur proposes to brainstorm small business ideas.)

These three resources are densely packed with helpful information. Use the information that’s most helpful to you, combine what you learn into an idea, then start testing that idea out and seeing if there’s a viable business.

A Method to Find the Right Idea

Coming up with your idea is also a matter of learning where to focus. In working with entrepreneurs over the years, and in listening to many interviews with entrepreneurs both on mixergy and Stanford’s e-corner web site, I’ve learned that you’ll want to find an idea where these three criteria overlap: (1) Your strengths + (2) Your passions + (3) A common problem.

Think about it like the following diagram:

This article is about how to come up with a small business idea.The intersection of the three circles at the core of this diagram is where viable business ideas exist.

To elaborate on each of the three elements, strength means an area where you have a particular expertise or heightened skills; passion is relatively obvious: it is something you enjoy doing or have emotional convictions about. As to the common problem element, you should try to find a problem that many people have and for which they would be willing to pay someone to provide a solution.

Now, using all of these resources, it’s up to you to come up with an idea for a possible solution to a common problem, and starting testing it on customers (i.e., selling your idea as a business).

Do you need money to fund your business idea? There’s plenty out there. Check out this article I wrote about small business financing.

If you know of other good resources that you think I should mention in this article, and want to tell me about them, or, if you need legal assistance in starting a business yourself — especially if your business will be in or around Portland, Oregon — please contact me.

Author: Andrew Harris

Andrew Harris is an attorney in Portland, Oregon and he wrote this article about small business ideas.

Learn More

To continue reading more about the laws that might affect your business, please see the Articles page, or to simply see a list of helpful legal resources for Oregon startups and businesses, please see the Legal Resources page.

If you need assistance with a particular legal issue affecting your business — especially if your business is in or around Portland, Oregon — please contact us and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.