What’s the Big Idea?

When you think of the winter holidays, you probably think of buying gifts, getting together with friends and celebrating with family. But if you’re yearning to start a new business, the holidays can also represent opportunity—the opportunity to get a new business idea, that is.

Here are 3 reasons the holidays can help inspire the perfect business idea.

1. You’ve got some downtime.

Chances are you’ve got time off from work for the holidays. Don’t spend all of it baking cookies or lounging on the couch. Devote some time to daydreaming and brainstorming about what type of life you want to have as a business owner. What work experience, skills and personality traits do you have that will lend themselves to a business? Do you want a full-time business with huge growth potential, or a part-time business you can run on the side for now? Are you all about the money, or is it more about the lifestyle?

2. You’re surrounded by ideas.

The holidays are a great time to get insights into hot trends, products, services and demographics. A trip to the local mall, downtown shopping area or restaurant row will give you myriad opportunities to check out what types of gifts are hot, what kinds of stores are thriving, what temporary carts and kiosks are capturing customers and what marketing tactics are being used. You’ll also get an eyeful of the types of people in your local area (Families? Singles? Upscale? Working-class?), how they dress and where they like to eat. All this information can help you spot holes in the marketplace that you can fill. Is your local downtown full of gastropubs, but there’s not one Mexican restaurant to be found? That just might be your big opportunity.

3. You can pick people’s brains.

At the holidays, you spend time with people you may not see the rest of the year, including far-flung relatives and old friends from other cities or states. You’ll also be thrown together with different age groups (like your teenage nephew or 75-year-old grandpa) that you may not normally interact with. This is a perfect opportunity to see what others outside your immediate family and demographic think of your idea.

For example, you might have what you think is a great idea for a teen-targeted website…until your teenage nieces and nephews shoot it down. Or perhaps you want to create an app to help moms of young children…but your sister-in-law (with her infant twins on her knee) points out seven competitors you never heard of. Don’t get defensive, but listen with an open mind to your friends’ and family’s input.

You can even talk to people you meet at holiday parties or events. A great way to get business ideas is to ask people what they wish they had, but can’t find, that would make their lives better/easier/happier. When you come across something lots of people want, but no one is offering, that just might be your big idea.

Of course, once you get your big idea, there’s lots of work to do writing a business plan, figuring out financing and setting up shop. But it all starts with the idea—and now is the perfect time to generate one! Need help? Talk to your SCORE mentor. Visit www.score.org to get a mentor if you don’t already have one!

Rieva Lesonsky
<p> Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. <br /> <a href="http://www.growbizmedia.com/" target="_blank" title="GrowBizMedia">GrowBizMedia.com</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/rieva" target="_blank" title="Rieva on Twitter">@rieva</a> | <a href="https://www.score.org/author/Rieva-Lesonsky/all-posts" title="blogs by Rieva">More from Rieva</a></p>


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