Ideas for Self Employment
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Finding the Right Idea

Where to get great ideas

It's vital to explore all of the possibilities that your hobby presents. Often the greatest ideas won't be immediately apparent, which is why we need to have some sort of strategy for unlocking them.

Every dog lover will know how frustrating dog leads have been. In the past, all you could buy were short leads that meant your dog often pulled one way and you the other.

The problem was finally solved when someone came up with the simple idea of the retractable dog lead, which meant that at last you could let your dog walk in the direction they wanted to while still being on their lead. And if you don't want your dog to walk any further you simply apply a brake using your finger. When your dog walks closer to you the lead retracts back into its housing.

But why did it take us so long to get this simple tool?

The reason is that those who manufacture dog leads never actually walked a dog themselves, because the only person who could have come up with such a product is someone who has long suffered the frustrating limitations of the traditional dog lead.

So ask yourself:

What's the one thing you find most frustrating about your hobby?

The `thing' needn't even be connected to your hobby. For example let's say you're a keen walker and you find the maps you're using difficult to store comfortably when you're walking, or hard to keep dry in the rain.

For an entrepreneur this type of problem represents opportunities.

•  You could design a map that suits the particular needs of your hobby, and either publish your own maps or approach map companies with your ideas on how their product can be improved, and offer your services as a consultant.

•  You could come up with some sort of carrying case that makes it easier to store maps and read them in the rain.

•  If one is already available elsewhere in the world you could apply to the manufacturers for a distributor's licence to sell the product here in the UK .

•  If it's already available in the UK , you could investigate buying the product wholesale and maybe offering it as one item in a mail order business.


Brainstorming is another way of coming up with fresh and innovative ideas. In its simplest form it involves you sitting down and writing down every idea that comes into your head on a given subject. It doesn't matter what you write down, as the objective of the exercise is to `storm' the right-hand side of your brain - the creative side - while ignoring any signals from the left-hand side of your brain - the side that deals with logic and order.

Although an extremely effective way of generating ideas, if you're new to this technique it might take you a little time to get used to it. So don't be despondent if it doesn't work for you. Stick with it and it'll pay dividends.

You may find the following `rules' and techniques helpful, but do whatever you're comfortable with and fairly soon you'll reap the rewards.

'Rules' for brainstorming

1. Do not judge any of your ideas.

2. Write down everything that comes into your head regardless of how silly or irrelevant it may sound.

3. The exercise is all about quantity, and not quality.

4. Work in five-minute bursts, stop, and then do something else for a few minutes before starting again.

5. Don't do it if you're tired or irritable. This technique works better when you're fresh and in a positive frame of mind.

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