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Have an idea and become an entrepreneur, or become an entrepreneur and look for an idea?

This is a typical chicken and egg situation! Let us not worry as to which came, or should come, first—the idea or the drive to become an entrepreneur. The outcome should be a good product/solution by you, which is required by many.

The idea can be something that generates revenue, or something that helps society but does not earn profit. Either way, you are contributing.

There are two routes that you can take. Decide to become an entrepreneur first—while you may not know exactly what product/service you can offer—and start looking for opportunities around. Find an opportunity, and work around it.

Alternatively, you notice a problem with a product/solution/process and come up a solution for that. This may lead to your entrepreneurship.

Either way, how can you be sure that it would work?

Use your experience. While working in a company you may notice some issues. To overcome those issues, you think of a solution. That triggers the idea of making a product/solution to make your life and the lives of those in similar fields easy. If your quick research says there are many users like you, you can think of making a product/solution.

In a manufacturing environment, many departments need to share data among themselves, which is cumbersome. If all departments can communicate, it is easier to manage the flow of data. If one has multiple factories, it becomes difficult to manage all of them efficiently. This is why enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems were designed, to integrate multiple locations.

Remove pain points. As a user, you notice some problems in a process and analyse the same. You realise that there is a pain point that you can remove. Bharat Goenka realised that small- and medium-size enterprises did not have a good financial accounting system, and he developed Tally. Tally software has made accounting extremely simple. It is the highest sold accounting package in India today.

Add value to the process. Someone is doing a good job, but there is scope for improvement. You apply your mind as an end user and look for additional features to make the existing product/solution better. Phanindra Sama realised that private buses were doing good business by selling tickets in their offices. He thought that it may be a good idea if the users could buy tickets and book seats in buses online.

He had an idea, but implementation was difficult. Private bus owners did not understand why they should let someone else sell their bus tickets when people were coming to their shops to buy them. Sama managed to convince a bus operator to let him sell a few tickets. Once this bus operator realised that the new online ticketing system is much easier, acceptance came from many more bus operators. Hence, Redbus was born!

Me-too products. You may know that ex-employees of Amazon started Flipkart. If you understand a market well, nothing can stop you from entering that segment and making it big. Where there is competition, there is opportunity. Otherwise, there would not be multiple players in the segment. Each player can get a share. The biggest advantage of me-too products is that these are already tried and tested. Everything depends on your innovative marketing skills!

Something new. You have your Eureka moment and see a good scope for a product. It could be a really good opportunity. However, do not get carried away with your idea. Check to make sure that there is a market for your idea. Find the target audience and talk to them. Find out if they are willing to pay for the same.

Whatever be the source, once you zero in on the idea, evaluate the market potential and whether it has potential for a profit-making business or for helping others.

Keep your ears and eyes open. There will be many opportunities. You just need to observe carefully.

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