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Written by Jesse Sumrak | March 12, 2024

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Good business ideas

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Can there really be that many good business ideas? Yes, there can. This is actually our filtered-down list—you should have seen how many other almost-good ideas nearly made the cut.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or brand new to the scene, we’ve compiled the best-of-the-best business ideas for you to bring to life in 2024. These range from freelance writing to career coaching to dog walking and everything in between.

Ready to find your next big idea? Keep scrolling.

What Makes a Business Idea Good or Bad?

It’s not always just the idea you need to think about. Sometimes it’s you, the situation, market circumstances, or industry trends.

One business idea can be good today and bad tomorrow. It all depends on various factors (both predictable and unpredictable). Not every good business idea will be right for you, and that’s OK.

Fortunately for you, you don’t need 50 good business ideas—you really just need one. Here’s what to keep in mind when finding the right startup idea :

  • Personal Interests: Don’t start a freelance writing business if you hate writing. Align your interests with your business. That’s the freedom you get when starting your own business—don’t throw it away from the get-go.
  • Bandwidth: Some business ideas require more input and investment. For example, opening and managing a new Italian restaurant will be more time-consuming than launching a restaurant consulting business. Neither is better than the other—just under your capacity and limitations.
  • Budget: Starting a business isn’t free. Some ideas cost less than others, though. Keep in mind your budget constraints when planning your venture.
  • Trends: You want to be on the climbing side of a trend curve—not the decline. Thinking of starting a business centered around Pokémon GO? You’re only about 6 years too late.
  • Problem-Solving: Find a business idea that solves a problem. Start with the issue, then find a product or service solution.
  • Renovation: A good business idea doesn’t need to be innovative—it can be renovative. Fix a broken idea or build upon an already successful one.

Once you’ve found the right business idea, don’t quit your day job (yet). Test it first.

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54 Good Business Ideas in 2024

We’ve broken down these good business ideas into a few different sections. Here’s how they’re categorized:

Types of Good Business Ideas

Low-Cost Startup Ideas

Online Business Ideas

Remote Business Ideas

Freelance Ideas

Business Ideas for Women

Side Hustle Ideas

Recession-Proof Business Ideas

Don’t Skip: How to Start a Business from Scratch (Step-By-Step Process)

7 Good Low-Cost Startup Ideas

Starting a business can be expensive. Rent, wages, inventory, advertising, web hosting, marketing—it all starts to add up quickly.

Fortunately, not every good business idea costs a fortune. You can find plenty that cost little to no cash to launch. Let’s start with these low-cost startup ideas first :

1. Freelance Writing: Turns words into income as a for-hire freelance writer . Find an industry that interests you and start writing. This could be thought-leadership articles, SEO-driven content, email campaigns, social media posts, or web pages.

2. Consulting: Freelancers tend to provide deliverables, while consultants provide advice, strategy, and expertise. If you’ve been in an industry for quite some time, there’s a good chance businesses will pay for your wisdom as a consultant . Develop expertise in emerging industries, like AI, to be an early adopter in a niche agency.

3. Course Creating: Have lucrative know-how? Bundle it all up into a well-designed online class and sell it as a course creator . We’re all for it—that’s what we do at Foundr.

4. Podcasting: Total podcast listeners are growing 20% each year . Jump in on the action by creating your own audio-based show. Here’s how to make your podcast stand out from the rest .

5. Blogging: Everyone likes blogs—you’re reading one right now. If you like to write, drive traffic to a website with blogging . Once you have an audience, you can monetize your visitors with ads, ecommerce, sponsorships, donations, and affiliate marketing. Speaking of affiliate marketing…

6. Affiliate Marketing: Instead of selling your own products, sell other businesses’ goods. You’ll make a commission every time someone clicks through your links and makes a purchase. Learn how Catena Media’s Erik Bergman used affiliate marketing to launch an IPO (initial public offering) his consultancy firm.

7. Website Building: Over 627,000 new businesses open each year in the US, and every single one of them needs a website. If you have a knack for building them, sell your services as a website builder. Here’s how to build sites quickly .

6 Good Online Business Ideas for Beginners

We won’t pretend starting a business is easy. It comes with a suite of challenges that bring even the best entrepreneurs to despair, headaches, and tears.

However, it’s worth the challenge.

Lucky for you, some business ideas are easier to start than others. If you’ve never dabbled in launching a business, then these online business ideas for beginners are a great place to start.

8. Ecommerce: Ecommerce is just selling stuff on the internet. Find a product , sell it online, and make a killing. That’s easier said than done, but our guide on how to start an ecommerce business will walk you through the entire process.

9. Virtual Assisting: Help businesses, executives, and freelancers schedule appointments, make phone calls, submit invoices, and manage basic finances as a virtual assistant .

10. Social Media Managing: Many businesses don’t have the bandwidth to manage social networks across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok ( yes, TikTok ). If you’re a savvy social media marketer, you can provide management services across paid and organic channels.

11. Branding: Designing a top-notch logo is hard. Writing a clever tagline is a challenge. Tying it all together into one cohesive brand—that’s the struggle of a branding expert. If you have a talent for it, sell your services in a freelancing or consulting capacity.

12. Domain Flipping: Instead of building websites from scratch, buy existing sites from domain marketplaces. They could be in great, semi-rough, or poor condition—your job is to polish them up and sell them for a profit.

13. Subscription Box Curating: Create a subscription box for a niche in need. There’s a lot of competition in this space, so you’ll need to be clever with your offering and targeting—but Henrik Werdelin built a 9-figure subscription box business just for dogs .

4 Good Remote Business Ideas

New business ideas have blossomed due to the acceptance of remote work. Give these remote work ideas a try to launch a business and help alleviate unexplored problems.

14. Wellness Programming: Remote work isn’t great for everyone—some folks struggle with stress and isolation. As a wellness programmer, you can provide ways to relax, decompress, and focus on mental and emotional wellbeing. This could be in the form of yoga, meditation, stretching, training, or just healthy habits.

15. Remote Work Services: Provide remote-empowering solutions to businesses in need. While it feels like remote started decades ago, some companies are still learning to adapt and cope. Offer services to boost collaboration or fill holes left open by work-from-home policies.

16. Virtual Fitness Training: Peloton doesn’t have a monopoly on online fitness—some people want other forms of exercise, and others prefer a more local community feel. Become a hyper-specialized fitness trainer in specific niches, such as ultramarathon training, rowing, ski mountaineering, or rock climbing.

17. Content Marketing: Upstart brands and corporations alike are looking for help to churn out content for their organic channels. As a content marketer , you can offer to create pieces like newsletters, website articles, social media copy, or short-form videos, all from the comfort of a home office.

7 Good Freelance Job Ideas

Freelancing has been on the up and up in recent years, and the pandemic has only been a catalyst for the movement. Especially with the Great Resignation upon us , companies need freelancers to step up to the plate and take over heaps of work.

If you have the right skill set, you can fulfill that need with one of these freelance job ideas .

18. Video Shooting and Editing: Video content is all the rage, but it’s not easy for busy businesses to produce. If you know your way around a camera and video editing software, you can find plenty of work as a freelance video specialist.

19. Career Coaching: Help clients find their way through their dream careers. You might guide them towards a more appropriate, fulfilling job, or you could give them the tools they need to negotiate their next big promotion.

20. Public Relations: Help businesses land press coverage with media kits, networking, press releases, and storytelling. It’s a demanding job, but it’s right if you like working in a non-stop, fast-paced environment.

21. Marketing: Use content marketing, email, social media, and advertising to market your clients’ products and services . Marketing is all-encompassing, and you’ll likely choose to niche down to a specific channel or strategy down the road.

22. App Developing: Apps are becoming a must-have part of most businesses’ products and services. However, finding an available engineer to build an app is near impossible. If you know your way around Java , Swift , or Kotlin , you’ll be in high demand for mobile app development.

23. Integrating: Some leaders inspire, others innovate, and a few dream. Integrators get things done. They take dreams and aspirations and turn them into reality. It’s a hands-on job, but it’s high-visibility and high-reward.

24. AI Consultant : With so many AI tools available , businesses are struggling to know how to implement them. Be someone’s go-to for AI implementation and consulting.

How To Find The Next BIG Business Idea | Nextdoor's Sarah Leary

12 Good Business Ideas for Women Entrepreneurs

There are 114% more women entrepreneurs now than 20 years ago. Women are looking for more autonomy, work-life balance, and financial freedom—and they’re finding it on their own rather than waiting for the corporate world to change.

If you’re looking for a good business idea that promises location flexibility and work schedule independence, we have a few thoughts. Plus, these business ideas for women entrepreneurs are typically in women-dominated industries—helping you escape the gender discrimination more prevalent in male-dominated sectors.

25. Etsy Shop: Esty is the go-to marketplace for creative entrepreneurs. Want to make one-of-a-kind products? This is where to go to sell them.

26. Interior Designing: Have an eye for design? Become a residential or commercial interior designer. Ergonomic setups and feng shui (arranging furniture for balance) are becoming more of a priority in the business world, meaning more opportunities for you.

27. Graphic Designing: Logos, landing pages, websites, hero images, email campaigns—anything with pixels needs a graphic designer’s touch. While tools like Canva are growing in popularity, they’ll never replace a need for graphic design experts.

28. Dropshipping: Sell products without storing them in your home or a warehouse. It’s the perfect anti-Lula Roe way to sell goods without risking inventory issues.

29. Life Coaching: Coaching isn’t just for career advice. Sometimes, people need life advice. It’s less therapy and more guidance.

30. Tutoring: Online course instructing is when you want to teach the masses—tutoring is for more private 1:1 teaching. Have an in-demand skill? There’s a good chance someone will pay you to teach it to them.

31. Real Estate: Purchase investment properties, find a tenant to pay rent (hopefully covering the monthly mortgage), and sell the property after it appreciates substantially. That’s real estate for you.

32. Wedding Planning: A wedding is the most important day of two partners’ lives. If you can navigate all the moving parts and piece together something beautiful, you’ll be on everyone’s contact list come springtime.

33. Personal Chef: You don’t need to own a restaurant to be a chef. More individuals and families are hiring personal chefs to cook in private settings.

34: Event Planning: Conferences, parties, meetings, conventions, trade shows—they need talented event planners to come together. If that sounds like you, you’ll always have a job in event planning.

35. Makeup Artist: Makeup isn’t as easy as it looks in the commercials, and that’s why makeup artists are killing it on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok showing people how it’s done.

36. Cleaning Business: Everyone needs cleaning: commercial and residential. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty (or managing the business), you’ll find plenty of messy people begging for your help.

How Her Rejected Pitch Led to a Billion-Dollar Startup

14 Good Side Hustle Ideas

Some ideas start better as a side hustle until they bloom to maturity. Side hustles (for better or worse) are less committing than full-time ventures. You can often grow them on the side while maintaining your 9-to-5 until the timing is right .

You also have the option to keep them as a side hustle. Not everyone wants to quit their full-time job and become an all-in entrepreneur, and that’s OK. These are the perfect side hustle jobs for pursuing a passion, making an extra buck, or laying the roots for your next business.

37. Ghostwriting: If you don’t mind trading credit for income, ghostwriting can be a lucrative business idea.

38. Podcast Editing: Some people thrive doing podcast interviews, but they can’t navigate the editing process. That’s where you come in.

39. Influencer Marketing Specialist: Most businesses are hesitant to start with influencer marketing simply because they don’t know how. Tell them what they need to know and hold their hand through the process.

40. Lead Generation Consulting: Sales aren’t always the root of the problem—sometimes, it’s lead generation. Guide a client through how they can build and optimize their lead funnel.

41. Browser Extension Developing: Mobile apps are nice, but sometimes a built-in browser extension is more appropriate.

42. Data Scientist: Know your way around numbers? Businesses have more data than they know what to do with. Help them understand the stories behind the numbers.

43. Quality Assurance Testing: There’s a lot of pressure for apps to be built quickly, but that doesn’t mean quality assurance isn’t a priority. Your job is to break apps so that developers can fix them before they go public.

44. Public Speaking Coaching: Public speaking will likely always be a struggle for a large number of individuals. If you can help executives and would-be presenters overcome their fears and step up to the stage, you’ll have a job in public speaking coaching.

45. Media Training: Don’t put an executive in front of a microphone until they’ve been trained on what to do (and more importantly: what not to do). It’s your job to make sure they don’t screw up.

46. Contract Writing: Know your way around legalese? Help businesses write up contracts.

47. Translating: If you’re bilingual, there’s a good chance you can find gigs for translating the two languages.

48 Dog Walking: Just because more people are working from home doesn’t mean they don’t want a dog walker. Sometimes, they don’t want to leave the house, and other times they can’t with illness or kiddos.

49. Pet Sitting: People want to travel and see the world, but they can’t always bring their furry friend. Keep them company for payment.

50. Travel and Experience Host: If you live in a major metropolitan city or somewhere that’s a destination for travelers, it’s easy to take advantage of platforms like Airbnb to host guests in your home or plan custom experiences that only a local can provide. Whether it’s a food tour in your neighborhood or a guided historical hike, travelers will fork out cash to experience your home like you do.

Find YOUR Side Hustle Idea (9 Questions of Doom)

4 Good Business Ideas During a Recession

Sketchy economic times require backup plans. With 9 to 5 jobs in flux, starting a business during a recession is a secure way to make side income and take advantage of shifts in the market.

51. Finance Coach: With a tightening economy comes tightening budgets. As a finance coach, you can help families objectively adjust their monthly budgets and offer suggestions on cutting costs to free up cash.

52. Content Creator: Making entertaining and engaging content for platforms like TikTok, Twitch, or YouTube doesn’t seem like a stable idea, but it meets two criteria of a recession-proof business. First, it’s low-cost to start. All you need is a phone, ideas, and your personality. Second, it meets consumers’ demands during tight economic conditions—escapism and low-cost entertainment.

53. Home Repair: No matter what’s happening with S&P 500, pipes will burst, lights will flicker, and furnaces wig out. Starting a home repair business will keep you in demand no matter the economic climate because what can go wrong will go wrong with a house.

54. Cleaning Services: Almost half the families in America have both parents employed, meaning there’s not much time to make the house squeaky clean for a hosting. It doesn’t matter if the economy is up or down; people are willing to pay for a cleaning service on the regular or in a pinch before their in-laws come from the weekend.

Keep Learning: How to Start an Online Business

Bring Your Good Idea to Life

Once you’ve zeroed in on your good business idea, it’s time to make it a reality. However, you need more than just an idea—you need skills and know-how.

That’s where we can help.

Sign up foundr+ for $1 , and we’ll help you every step of the way along your business journey.

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About Jesse Sumrak

Jesse Sumrak is a writing zealot focused on creating killer content. He’s spent almost a decade writing about startup, marketing, and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped business. A writer by day and a peak bagger by night (and early early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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40 Startup Business Ideas to Try in 2024

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Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Aspiring entrepreneurs are often one brilliant startup business idea away from becoming their own boss. Of course, brilliance is easier said than done when starting a business .

The best startup ideas have business plans that solve a problem, meet an unmet demand or improve upon something already on the market — if not all of the above. Here are 40 ideas to help get your wheels turning as you look to bring a company to life.

new problem solving business ideas

40 best startup business ideas

Even startup ideas that seemingly come out of left field can yield incredible success. Read through this list for instant inspiration.

1. Create educational content or activities

Parents are always looking for tools and activities to keep their kids entertained and engaged. Printable activity guides for different age groups, home-school lesson plans or even virtual nature walks or story time could all be viable startup ideas.

2. Offer virtual team-building

Companies need new ways to boost morale and build camaraderie among remote and hybrid teams. Enter the virtual team-builder. Cheesemongers, mixologists, chefs, magicians, artists, historians, master gardeners — almost anyone can create and offer bonding experiences for virtual companies.

3. Start a meal-prep business

The U.S. market for meal kits is expected to grow 14.2% annually between 2023 and 2030, according to market analysis by Grand View Research [0] Grand View Research . Meal Kit Delivery Services Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Offering (Heat & Eat, Cook & Eat), By Service (Single, Multiple), By Platform (Online, Offline), Meal Type (Vegan, Vegetarian), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2023 - 2030 . Accessed Feb 21, 2024. View all sources . Tap into that market and start a meal-prep service to make people’s lives easier and cater to specialized diets (keto, vegan, Whole30).

4. Create a food waste solution

Creating a startup focused on reducing food waste could not only earn you some serious funding, but also positively change the food system and help save grocery stores and restaurants money.

5. Capitalize on plant-based foods

The U.S. plant-based market was worth $8 billion in 2022, with sales of plant-based foods projected to climb 44% over three years, according to the most recent annual report from the Good Food Institute [0] Good Food Institute . U.S. retail market insights for the plant-based industry . Accessed Feb 21, 2024. View all sources . Creating a vegan supermarket or making meat-free versions of traditional foods could be the ticket to success for aspiring entrepreneurs.

6. Start a dropshipping business

The e-commerce business model of dropshipping is especially attractive because it doesn’t require you to purchase inventory upfront. Selling higher-end products with low shipping costs could become profitable quickly if you do thorough competition research.

» MORE: 25 low-cost business ideas

7. Curate subscription boxes

Subscription boxes were a $32.9 billion business globally in 2023 (up from $22.7 billion in 2021), and the industry is still set to grow, according to a market research report by the International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group [0] International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group . Subscription Box Market Report by Type (Replenishment Subscription, Curation Subscription, Access Subscription), Gender (Male, Female), Application (Clothing and Fashion, Beauty, Food and Beverages, Pet Food, Baby Products, Health and Fitness, and Others), and Region 2024-2032 . Accessed Feb 21, 2024. View all sources . Pick a niche, and then curate a collection of specialized goods to deliver unique experiences to consumers. Some subscription boxes focus on a mix of products, like makeup or dog toys; others focus on a single item or theme, like shaving or sustainability. Find the right starting point for you and run with it.

Ready to get started? Here's what to do next

Open a business bank account.

Start keeping the books.

Build your website.

Protect yourself from liability.

8. Create an airport-centric app

Creating an all-in-one app that allows travelers tonavigate unfamiliar airports with real-time information is a relatively untapped startup idea. Though various travel applications exist, an app that shows amenities, TSA line wait times, ground transportation options and airport maps could be useful to passengers.

9. Become a destination wedding planner

Planning a wedding is stressful; planning a wedding from afar could fray any couple’s nerves. That creates a niche for a destination wedding planner who can advise on venue and vendor selections, as well as manage wedding and travel logistics for the bridal party and guests. If you love exploring, have expertise in a popular wedding locale and are great under pressure, this could be the startup idea for you.

10. Make local guides

Even if you don’t consider yourself a local expert, creating local guides can get you familiar with your surroundings and help tourists enjoy off-the-beaten-path experiences in your area. Make themed guides, highlight attractions and partner with local businesses for advertising opportunities.

» MORE: 25 side business ideas

11. Create a local grocery delivery service

A grocery delivery startup can come with minimal setup costs — you only need a vehicle and a cell phone to get started. Help older people or others who are too busy to shop by offering this community-friendly service. You can even approach grocery stores in your area to see if they're willing to partner with you to get the service off the ground.

12. Start a virtual event planning company

Virtual event planning is a new booming business as in-person gatherings go online or take a hybrid approach. A skilled planner who can ensure all attendees are engaged, regardless of location, will be in high demand for years to come.

» MORE: Best business credit cards for LLCs

13. Sell zero-waste products

Starting a zero-waste company is more than just a trendy thing to do; it can be an ethical, environmentally conscious decision. Selling sustainable products such as reusable bags, bamboo toothbrushes or products with zero-waste packaging could appeal to a growing number of sustainability-focused consumers.

14. Make products for pets

Create innovative pet products to take advantage of the fact that 66% of U.S. households (about 86.9 million households) have at least one animal companion, according to the annual pet ownership survey by the American Pet Products Association [0] American Pet Products Association . Industry Trends and Stats . View all sources . Developing toys, accessories or clothing for furry friends can help you tap into that expansive market. You can also go the service route and offer pet sitting, walking or virtual dog training. Or develop an app or tech solution that makes pet parents’ lives easier.

15. Create custom clothing

Selling custom clothing or offering a tailoring service could be your winning startup idea. The custom clothing industry is gaining popularity and offers room for long-term growth.

» MORE: How to open an Etsy shop

16. Sell vintage clothing online

Demand for sustainable fashion has helped propel second-hand clothing into a $39 billion industry in the U.S. with projections to hit $70 billion by 2027, according to an annual resale report by online consignment company ThredUp [0] ThredUp . ThredUp Resale Report 2023 . View all sources . Consider selling thrifted, vintage or upcycled clothing on social media, an ecommerce platform or an app such as ThredUp or Poshmark.

17. Begin niche blogging

Find a niche (think e-sports or urban farming) and create engaging content around it. You can earn money through advertising, affiliate links and even product sales once you build an audience.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

18. Become an e-book writer

If you’ve got a way with words, consider becoming a self-published author and selling e-books on virtual platforms.

» MORE: 14 profitable e-commerce business ideas

19. Start ghostwriting

Create content for busy professionals who don’t have the time or the skill to write themselves. If you don’t mind not attaching your name to your writing, ghostwriting is a great way to earn money with little to no startup costs attached.

20. Become a resume writer

Everyone needs a resume, but few people are skilled at or enjoy writing their own. If you’ve got writing experience and are looking to launch a startup with no setup costs, creating a resume-writing service could be the path for you.

21. Open a coworking space

Capitalize on the rising popularity of remote work by creating a modern coworking space that addresses pain points of entrepreneurs. Pick a convenient location and build it out with highly sought-after amenities.

» MORE: 35 businesses that every community needs

22. Become an online coach

If you enjoy helping others achieve their goals and are a people person, this startup idea could be fulfilling for yourself and for your clientele. You can provide wellness, business or life coaching.

23. Flip failing websites

Buy an existing website, make improvements on it and sell it for a profit. You’ll need to understand the market well and have some web development skills, but this can be a profitable pursuit.

24. Become a web developer

The need for custom websites isn’t ever going away, and if you know your way around WordPress or know a programming language or two, you can start a profitable website development startup.

25. Start a podcast

If you’re deeply knowledgeable or passionate about a subject, consider getting into podcast production or hosting. Building an audience takes time, but once established, podcasters can earn money through affiliate marketing, donations and sponsorships.

26. Be a social media influencer

Once you find a niche and build a personal brand, amassing a large following on Instagram or YouTube can lead to a solid source of income through influencer marketing.

» MORE: 30 Instagram business ideas

27. Create online courses

Obscure hobbies can lead to lucrative business ideas if you make them easy for others to learn. If you’d like to teach others but aren’t interested in the coaching route, creating an online course could lead to reliable passive income.

28. Become a marketing consultant

If you’ve got digital marketing chops, help small businesses reach their target audiences by providing SEO, social media or copywriting services.

Video preview image

29. Develop an app

If you’ve got a unique idea and the necessary technical skills, creating an app could be your gold mine. It’s also possible to build an app without extensive coding skills, and once it launches, it can bring in passive earnings.

» MORE: 25 tech business ideas

30. Make a smart appliance

Smart accessories and home appliances are all the rage and becoming an important part of daily life for the average consumer. For inspiration, take note of daily tasks at home or at work that would be easier with a smart appliance.

31. Tap into virtual reality experiences

VR is the future, and the future is now. Create virtual reality experiences or accessories to tap into a global industry that’s projected to grow to a $165.91 billion market by 2030, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights [0] Fortune Business Insights . The global virtual reality market size was valued at $19.44 billion in 2022 & is projected to grow from $25.11 billion in 2023 to $165.91 billion by 2030... Read More at:- https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/virtual-reality-market-101378 . View all sources , a market research firm.

32. Make a niche dating site

The stigma around online dating has decreased over the past decade, so take the opportunity to help others find love. With various dating sites targeted to everyone from sea captains to farmers, there is market demand for specialty dating options.

33. Develop a chatbot

Create a chatbot — which uses artificial intelligence to communicate with people — to help businesses improve their communication. Chatbots have become more popular in recent years, and you can create one without knowing how to code.

34. Offer matchmaking skills

This is like creating a dating site but with a personal touch. If you have a knack for knowing what types of people and which personalities get along well, you might be the perfect person to start matchmaking. You can do this online or meet clients in person as well.

35. Be a virtual assistant

Being an online assistant for someone, or starting a company of virtual assistants, can be a huge success. Everyone could use a little extra help, and creating a startup focused around getting people that help for the administrative tasks in their lives, professional or personal, can be a huge moneymaker.

» MORE: Home-business ideas: 40 remote jobs to explore

36. Reinvent exercising

If there's one thing people get bored with, it's doing the same type of exercise day in and day out to stay healthy. Plenty of people have turned the exercise industry on its head, with businesses like CrossFit and Peloton popping up. You can do the same if you have an idea for a new regimen or activity for exercise enthusiasts.

37. Create eco-friendly, health-friendly makeup and beauty products

As people become more aware of the impact their personal choices have on their health and on the environment, they're looking for more health and beauty products that are also eco-friendly. Creating safe and eco-friendly products could be a great startup idea.

38. Open a food truck or restaurant pop-up

Opening a food truck or restaurant pop-up is a great startup idea for entrepreneurs with a knack for cooking. Both options are easier to launch than a full-scale restaurant and allow you to get started with a smaller staff and menu. You can open a food truck that only sells french fries with crazy toppings, for example, or launch a breakfast sandwich pop-up in your neighborhood coffee shop.

39. Start an organization business

Shows like "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" and "The Home Edit" put professional organizing on the map, exposing millions to the magic of a tidy home. If you have a knack for making order out of chaotic spaces, you could start a business offering those services to those who need them. Organizing kitchen pantries, closets, bookshelves and more are all options you could offer customers at your new business.

40. Do interior design for young professionals

Have an eye for decorating? Start an interior design business, offering your services at an hourly rate virtually to young professionals looking for inspiration. It can be as simple as them uploading some images of their new space to your site and you sending back a few links with furniture in their budget and example images of what the room might look like when it's finished.

ZenBusiness

Start Your Dream Business

How to choose a startup idea

Do your homework before diving headfirst into a startup idea. First, make sure there's demand for the business you want to start, where you want to start it. More than 35% of businesses fail because there isn't a market need for their services or product, according to research from CB Insights [0] CB Insights . The Top 12 Reasons Startups Fail . View all sources .

You also need to write a business plan , which should include your company’s objective, sales plan, market analysis and financial projections. A good business plan can help to keep your business on track. Lenders will also want to see your business plan when considering you for a startup business loan . You should also consider the skills you already have and see how those align with any of the startup business ideas you might go with.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

On a similar note...

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Seriosity

Problem Solving Business Ideas: Launch Your Success Today

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Ever found yourself scratching your head over a problem, wishing there was a product or service to make it disappear? That’s where problem-solving business ideas come into play. They’re all about spotting those everyday hassles and turning them into opportunities.

Imagine having the power to not just navigate through these issues but to solve them for others too. That’s the beauty of problem-solving businesses. They tap into common pain points and offer innovative solutions that can make life a whole lot easier.

From apps that organize your life to services that take the stress out of moving, problem-solving business ideas are reshaping how we tackle our daily challenges. Ready to dive in and explore how you can turn problems into profitable ventures? Let’s get started.

Identifying Common Pain Points

As someone with a keen eye for online businesses and startups, you know that the first step in sparking a problem-solving business idea is pinpointing everyday hassles. When thinking about what kind of venture to embark on, look around you—problems are hidden opportunities begging for solutions. Your understanding of side-hustles and studies of success in various arenas have likely armed you with the insight needed to spot these gaps.

Remember, the best businesses solve problems that people are willing to pay to get rid of. Think about what inconveniences you, your friends, or even broader communities face. Is it a lack of quality food delivery in your area? Or maybe it’s the time-consuming task of finding reliable home maintenance services? Every frustration is a potential business idea.

Here’s a bit of advice from someone who’s been down the road of starting an online venture: keep a problem diary . For a week, jot down every irritation, no matter how small. You’ll be surprised at the patterns that emerge. These repeated pain points are the golden tickets for your next business idea.

Consider leveraging technology to address these issues. The digital world offers countless ways to solve real-world problems efficiently and at scale. Whether it’s creating an app that connects freelance handymen with homeowners or developing a platform for on-demand tutoring services, there’s no limit to how you can turn pain points into profitable ventures.

Looking at the success stories of others can also spark inspiration. Did you know that some of the most successful companies were born out of personal frustrations? Airbnb was started by its founders’ need to pay rent, while Uber was the result of its founders struggling to get a cab in Paris. Each of these giants began by addressing a simple problem.

So, dive deep into understanding those pain points. Engage with potential customers, get feedback, and observe the annoyances in everyday life. It’s not just about finding problems but understanding them enough to envision a solution that’s both innovative and monetarily viable. Your journey as an entrepreneur is filled with learning and opportunities at every corner, and it starts with identifying those common pain points.

Brainstorming Innovative Solutions

Once you’ve identified common pain points and you’re ready to start solving them, the next step is brainstorming. This is where your creativity and knowledge of the market really shine. Remember, every great solution starts as an idea, and it’s often the most outlandish ideas that evolve into groundbreaking solutions. So, let your imagination run wild.

Start by gathering a diverse team. Different perspectives can spark unique ideas you might never have considered. If you’re tackling a tech problem, include someone outside the tech sphere. Their fresh eyes might see solutions obscured by industry norms. Hosting a structured brainstorming session can lead to breakthroughs. Set clear objectives for the session but allow the conversation to flow freely.

Focus on quantity over quality at this stage. Write down everything that comes to mind. No idea is too far-fetched . You’re aiming to create a broad list of potential solutions that you can refine and test later. Consider employing techniques like mind mapping or the SCAMPER method (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse) to push your creativity.

Keep the end user in mind. Every idea should aim to solve the problem in a way that’s beneficial and appealing to your potential customers. Try empathizing with their situation. Ask yourself, “If I were in their shoes, what would make my life easier or better?”

Lastly, leverage technology to streamline the brainstorming process. There are numerous online collaboration tools that can help your team organize thoughts, vote on ideas, and even integrate customer feedback directly into the brainstorming session. This step is crucial. Engaging with potential users early on can guide your project towards more user-centered solutions.

By approaching problem-solving with an open mind and a creative, user-focused strategy, you’re already on your way to crafting solutions that could redefine the market.

Creating a Problem-Solving Business Plan

Once you’ve landed on an innovative solution and gathered your brainstorming prowess, it’s time to sketch out your road map: a problem-solving business plan. Think of this as your blueprint for transforming your bright ideas into a booming business. Don’t worry; it’s simpler than you might think, especially with your entrepreneurial spirit.

First off, define your target market . You need to know who you’re solving problems for. Is it busy professionals, tech-savvy millennials, or perhaps eco-conscious consumers? Understanding your audience is crucial because it influences every aspect of your business, from marketing strategies to product development.

Next, dive deep into market research . This isn’t just about knowing your competitors, which is important, but also about understanding the market demand. Are people looking for a solution to the problem you’ve identified? What are they currently using? Here’s where your love for studying success stories can really pay off. Learn from both the triumphs and mistakes of similar ventures.

Outline your unique value proposition (UVP) . This is what sets you apart from the competition. Maybe it’s an innovative approach, a unique product feature, or an unmatched customer service experience. Your UVP should be clear, compelling, and directly linked to the problem you’re solving.

Financial planning can’t be overlooked. Start by estimating your startup costs . This includes everything from development expenses to marketing. Then, project your revenue streams . Will you sell products, offer services, or utilize advertising? These figures might seem daunting at first, but they’re essential for securing funding and ensuring sustainability.

Finally, marketing strategies are your gateway to reaching your target audience. In today’s digital world, leveraging online platforms is non-negotiable. Whether it’s social media, SEO, or email marketing, choose channels where your potential customers are most active. And remember, your passion for the online business world is your greatest asset here. Use it to craft messages that resonate, engage, and convert.

Crafting a problem-solving business plan is your first step toward entrepreneurship success. With a clear direction and solid strategies, you’re well on your way to making a significant impact. And always remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Keep iterating, keep learning, and most importantly, keep solving problems. Your innovative ideas have the power to change the world, one solution at a time.

Researching the Market

You’ve got an innovative idea, but before you dive headfirst into the deep end, it’s crucial to understand the waters you’re about to enter. Market research is your lifeline here. It’s not just about knowing your potential customers; it’s about understanding the entire ecosystem your business will operate in.

Start by identifying your target market. Who are they? What do they need, and what do they care about? But don’t stop there. Dive deeper into their habits, preferences, and the factors influencing their purchasing decisions. This isn’t just about demographics but understanding the psychographics of your potential customers. Tools like surveys, social media analytics, and focus groups can be goldmines of insights.

Then, scope out your competition. Who else is swimming in your pool, and what strokes are they using? Understanding your competitors isn’t about being intimidated by them; it’s about finding the gaps they’ve left open, the needs they’ve ignored, and the strengths you can capitalize on. Analyze their strategies, offerings, and customer feedback. Look for patterns, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This SWOT analysis isn’t just a fancy acronym; it’s a compass for navigating the competitive landscape.

Lastly, don’t overlook market trends. The market you’re entering today won’t be the same tomorrow. New technologies, changing regulations, and evolving consumer behaviors can turn the tide in unexpected ways. Keeping an eye on these trends will help you stay relevant and innovative.

Remember, researching the market isn’t a one-time task; it’s an ongoing process. As you gather insights, you’ll refine your idea, tweak your strategy, and maybe even pivot your whole concept. The goal isn’t just to enter the market but to hit the ground running, with a clear understanding of where you’re headed and the obstacles you might face.

Building a Prototype or Minimum Viable Product

Once you’ve identified a problem and envisioned a solution, the next step is to bring your idea to life. This is where building a prototype or a minimum viable product (MVP) comes into play. It’s an exciting phase where your idea starts taking shape, but you’ve got to approach it wisely.

Understanding Prototype and MVP

First off, a prototype is a preliminary model of your product used to demonstrate or test its feasibility. It’s like a draft version, helping you understand how your product works or looks without being fully functional. On the other hand, an MVP is a basic version of your product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development.

Why Start with a Prototype or MVP

Starting with a prototype or MVP offers multiple advantages:

  • Minimizes financial risk by requiring less upfront investment compared to full-scale product development.
  • Gathers user feedback early , allowing you to make necessary adjustments before committing more resources.
  • Verifies product-market fit , ensuring that there’s a demand for your solution.
  • Attracts potential investors who want to see a tangible representation of your idea.
  • Define the core features that solve the key problem your product addresses. Don’t get sidetracked by bells and whistles.
  • Choose the right tools and resources . Numerous platforms and services can help you create prototypes or develop an MVP with minimal coding.
  • Test and iterate based on feedback from your target users. Be prepared to make changes to better meet their needs and expectations.

Remember, the goal at this stage isn’t perfection but rather validation. You’re trying to prove that your solution is viable and that there’s a market for it. Don’t fear criticism; embrace it. Each piece of feedback is a stepping stone towards refining your product and ultimately, solving the problem at hand more effectively.

Testing and Validating Your Solution

After you’ve built your prototype or MVP, it’s crucial to put it to the test. You’re not just launching a product; you’re solving a problem. To truly verify that your solution hits the mark, you need real user feedback. This phase isn’t just a hurdle; it’s an invaluable step that shapes your business’s future.

Start by identifying your early adopters . These are the folks most likely to feel the pain point you’re addressing and to embrace your solution with enthusiasm. Reach out through social media, online communities , and niche forums where your target audience hangs out. Your marketing skills and passion for connecting with people will be crucial here.

Next, launch a beta version of your product. This allows you to gather detailed feedback from actual users without the pressure of a full-scale launch. The feedback you receive is gold dust. It reveals what’s working, what’s not, and, most importantly, it uncovers opportunities for improvement. Remember, negative feedback is not a setback; it’s a beacon guiding you towards a more successful path.

Keep track of the feedback with tools and systems that simplify the process. Consider setting up surveys, feedback forms, or even direct interviews to dig deeper into the users’ experiences. This direct approach not only provides valuable insights but also fosters a community around your product.

As you iterate based on the feedback, keep an eye on the metrics that matter. User engagement, retention rates, and conversion rates are key indicators of whether your solution is resonating with your market. If you’re not seeing the numbers you hoped for, don’t be discouraged. Every successful entrepreneur knows that these early challenges are just stepping stones to a refined, market-fit product.

Remember, at this stage, you’re fuelled by feedback. It’s all about validating your solution and making informed adjustments. The goal is to create a product that not just solves a problem but does so in a way that’s viable, valuable, and validated by your target market. Your journey as an entrepreneur is all about embracing challenges, being adaptable, and never losing that drive to see your vision come to life.

Developing a Marketing Strategy

So, you’ve validated your business idea and you’re ready to shout it from the rooftops. The thing is, how do you make sure the right people are listening? That’s where developing a killer marketing strategy comes into play. Remember, even the most revolutionary products need a push to capture attention in a crowded marketplace.

First things first, identify your target audience . Not everyone will need or want your product, and that’s okay. Focus on those who do. Understanding your ideal customer’s demographics, interests, and behaviors will allow you to tailor your marketing efforts more effectively. Use online tools and surveys to gather data, ensuring your strategy is data-driven.

Let’s talk about content . Content is king, as they say, and for a good reason. Creating valuable, engaging content that resonates with your audience can establish your brand as a thought leader in your niche. This could be through blog posts, videos, podcasts, or social media content. The goal? To provide value that draws people to your product or service naturally.

Next, leverage social media platforms . These are powerful tools that can amplify your message and connect you directly with your audience. Choose platforms where your target customers are most active. Whether it’s Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, each platform has its own strengths and audience preferences.

Lastly, SEO cannot be overlooked. Optimizing your website and content for search engines increases your visibility online. When potential customers search for solutions to their problems, you want your business to pop up as a top result. Incorporate relevant keywords, backlinks, and ensure your website provides a great user experience.

Remember, marketing is not a one-time effort but a continuing process. Keep analyzing your results, engaging with your audience, and tweaking your strategy as needed. Keeping your finger on the pulse of changing market trends and customer preferences will help you stay ahead of the curve.

Launching Your Problem-Solving Business

Embarking on the journey of launching your problem-solving business is as thrilling as it is daunting. With your innovative idea in hand, it’s time to step into the entrepreneurial world and make your dream a reality. Remember, every successful enterprise once started with a single step, and yours begins here.

First off, solidify your business plan . This is your roadmap, detailing the journey from where you are now to where you envision your business to be. Highlight key aspects such as your target market, business model, funding strategies, and how you plan to scale. Your business plan isn’t just a document—it’s a declaration of your intent and a guide that keeps you aligned with your goals.

Next, choose the right legal structure for your business. Whether it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation, this decision impacts your liability, taxation, and your ability to raise funds. Make an informed choice that supports your business’s growth and suits your risk appetite.

Set up your online presence . In today’s digital age, having a robust online presence is non-negotiable. Build a professional website that encapsulates your brand’s ethos and your solution’s value proposition. Leverage social media to create buzz and engage directly with your target audience. Remember, your online platforms are often the first touchpoint between your business and potential customers.

Lastly, network, network, network . The importance of building a strong network cannot be overstated. Attend industry meetups, join relevant online communities, and don’t shy away from seeking mentorship. Creating relationships with other entrepreneurs and potential customers can open doors to opportunities previously unimaginable.

While it’s vital to be focused and driven, remember to stay adaptable. The landscape of business is ever-changing, and flexibility can be your biggest asset. Keep your eyes on the prize, but don’t be afraid to pivot if you stumble upon a path that could lead to greater success. Your problem-solving business is on the verge of becoming a reality—now go out there and make a lasting impact.

Scaling and Growing Your Venture

After laying the groundwork and ironing out the initial kinks in your problem-solving business, it’s time to focus on scaling and growing . You’ve seen firsthand how starting your own online business can transform from a side-hustle into a full-blown successful venture. The key now is leveraging what works and expanding it.

First off, analyze your business metrics closely. Which products or services are your cash cows? What marketing strategies have yielded the best ROI? Data doesn’t lie, and your online business’s analytics provide a roadmap to where you should channel your resources. Here’s a quick glance at some key metrics you should keep an eye on:

  • Monthly active users (MAU)
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • Lifetime value of a customer (LTV)
  • Conversion rate

To grow your audience, diversify your content across multiple platforms. If your business has thrived on Instagram, why not try TikTok or YouTube? Video content, in particular, can help you reach a wider audience. As you experiment with new platforms, remember to track which ones bring in the most engagement and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Expanding your team might also be on the horizon. As you scale, tasks that you once managed might now require a dedicated specialist. Whether it’s marketing, customer service, or product development, hiring skilled individuals can free up your time to focus on strategic planning.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of networking. Connecting with other entrepreneurs and business enthusiasts can open doors to partnerships, collaborations, and even mentorships. These relationships can be invaluable to navigating the complexities of scaling a business.

Remember, scaling a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Your journey as an entrepreneur and business enthusiast is about continuous learning and adapting. Keep experimenting with new strategies, measure every outcome, and be prepared to pivot when necessary. Your side hustle can indeed turn into your dream business, reaching heights you never imagined.

Embarking on your journey to create a problem-solving business is both thrilling and challenging. Remember, laying down a solid foundation with a well-thought-out business plan and the right legal structure is just the beginning. Your online presence and the relationships you build along the way will be invaluable assets. As you scale and grow, keep a keen eye on your business metrics and don’t shy away from diversifying your approach. The business world is ever-evolving, so staying adaptable and open to experimentation will serve you well. Here’s to your success in solving problems and making a significant impact!

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Ryan Kingsley Seriosity Editor

Ryan Kingsley

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How to Come Up With a Good Business Idea

Aspiring female entrepreneur thinking of a business idea.

7 min. read

Updated January 5, 2024

Some entrepreneurs have a natural gift for generating ideas—most struggle. But without a good idea, starting a business will be an uphill battle.

Luckily, this is a skill you can improve with the right process and a little practice.

This guide will teach you how to generate hundreds of business ideas and identify what makes a good idea. We even have curated lists of ideas for you to explore. Let’s get started.

How to come up with a good business idea

Coming up with a business idea isn’t a strict process. It’s a series of methods to tap into, explore, and see if something sticks. 

Here are a few tried-and-true ways to generate a business idea:

1. Solve a problem

Your business must solve a real problem . 

The most successful businesses always do. But how do you identify a real-world problem? 

Try one (or all) of the following:

  • Think about issues you’ve encountered in your own life.
  • Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues.
  • Look through Reddit, Quora, and other forums.
  • Run a survey.

These are just a few ways to uncover actual problems. Once you’ve identified a few persistent issues, dream up possible solutions. That may lead you to a highly desired business idea.

2. Talk to family and friends

It’s challenging to think up ideas solo. So, reach out to someone you trust.

Your family and friends can be a great source of inspiration. Discuss your desire to start a business with them and ask for their ideas. 

They may have noticed a gap in the market, have a problem that needs solving, or have a unique perspective for harnessing your skillset. 

This outside input can be the spark you need to find a great idea. Plus, you’ll open the door for additional support—such as funding or partnership.

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3. Make tasks easier

The best and most lucrative businesses are often the most mundane. They help solve basic problems by making them easier or more efficient.

To hone in on these simple issues, walk through your day. What tasks do you dread? What undesired work takes up your time? 

These often overlooked pain points are likely screaming for solutions.

4. Build on an existing product or service

A great business idea doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. 

Instead, take an existing product or service and make it better. Improve the design, add new features, or find a new way to market it. You may even be able to introduce a product or service to an underserved market. 

Start looking at the things around you and ask—how could this be easier? How could it be more intuitive, less stressful, and more pleasant? How could it be more affordable?

You may find that even the slightest change will create something unique.

5. Start with a hobby

Your hobbies and passions can be a great source of business ideas. Whether you love baking, photography, or gardening—there’s likely a way to turn your hobby into a business . 

You just need to determine how to monetize your skills or the products you create. If you’re unsure how take it slow and start with a side hustle . You’ll still need to consider pricing, expenses, and how much time to invest—but you’ll have less risk and more time to adapt your hobby into a business.

6. Jump on a trend

Trends can provide excellent business opportunities. Whether it’s a new technology, a fashion statement, or a change in consumer behavior—spotting and capitalizing on emerging trends can lead to successful business ideas. But, there are potential complications you should be aware of.

A very small or non-existent market for this product or service is likely. You’ll need to showcase the problem to stimulate a need many didn’t know they had. Just be sure it has staying power (like AI tools) and is not just a fad (like fidget spinners).

You should expect multiple competitors to emerge as the trend gains traction. Focus on solidifying your brand and build loyalty early on to stay ahead of imitators. 

7. Innovate

Innovation involves developing something new or finding a novel approach to an existing product or service. This requires creativity and a willingness to take risks. Still, it can lead to unique and successful business ideas.

Remember that this may mean no current market for your product or service exists. But if you believe there will be a problem and can convince others, you may be at the forefront of an untapped movement.

What are the qualities of a good business idea?

There’s no genuinely perfect business idea. However, there are clear signs that an idea is worth pursuing and more likely to succeed. 

Clear market demand

There must be a need for your product or service. Meaning your idea needs to, at a minimum, solve a real-world problem for your target customers . 

That’s just the start. 

Will people pay for a solution? Is there a real opportunity to disrupt pre-existing alternatives? 

It may not be a good idea if the answer is no to either question. 

Scalable and profitable

Scalability and profitability are tied together. 

An idea is scalable if you can:

  • Attract more customers.
  • Accommodate this increased demand.
  • Lower costs as you grow.

An idea is profitable if revenue exceeds expenses. 

Now, your business may take time to be profitable. But it should display the ability to grow and scale to achieve profitability. 

If your business idea can’t bring in more customers or decrease costs—you’ll struggle to be profitable.

Fits your goals

Do you want to monetize your passion? Grow quickly and sell? Create a legacy to pass down to your kids?

You need to know what you hope to get from being an entrepreneur. Because only some business ideas will fit your goals. 

So, make sure the business fits your motivation. If it doesn’t, you’ll find it is far more challenging to keep up long-term. 

  • No business idea? Try these

If you’re struggling to develop a business idea, check out one of our curated guides for inspiration.

Business ideas you can start for free

Is the idea of spending money holding you back from starting a business? Don’t worry, there are plenty of business ideas out there that require little to no upfront investment.

30+ business ideas using skills you already have

Whether you’ve developed skills from a hobby, work experience, or online courses—there’s a good chance you can use them to start your own business.

Online business ideas

Skip setting up a brick-and-mortar storefront and go digital. Here are some low-cost online businesses you can start right now.

Subscription service business ideas

While we may be past the gold rush for this business type—the right subscription service could still capture consumers’ attention.

Business ideas to start during a recession

An economic downturn typically spells trouble for business owners. It also presents an opportunity for new entrants to fill gaps in the market.

How to generate business ideas with LinkedIn

Learn to use your professional connections to explore, develop, and test potential business ideas.

Questions to reveal customer pain points

Learn how to speak with potential customers and understand what challenges could be solved with the right business idea.

Hottest industries to start a business

What industries show the most significant growth potential for new businesses? Check out our regularly updated list for insights on what industries may provide the best opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Coming up with an idea is just the first step

Once you have your business idea, it’s time to validate if it will work . 

You’ll need to chat with potential customers, run tests, and explore the financial implications of starting your chosen business. If that sounds tough, don’t worry, the next section of our startup guide will help you understand if you have a good business idea.

For now, pat yourself on the back for getting this far. 

Sorting through the thousands of potential options and finding something you believe can be turned into a business is a big step. Now, you need to determine if your idea can become a legitimate business .

Resources and tools to find your business idea

Make researching and selecting a business idea easier with these templates and tools.

new problem solving business ideas

Business idea validation checklist

Want to find out if your business idea is a winner? Work through this checklist to test it.

Download Tool

new problem solving business ideas

One-page business plan template

Document your research, explore the specifics of your idea, and outline how it could work as a business.

Download Template

new problem solving business ideas

Explore your business idea with LivePlan

With a library of real-world sample business plans, industry benchmarks, and step-by-step guidance—you can quickly determine if your business idea will work.

Content Author: Kody Wirth

Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • How to come up with a business idea
  • Qualities of a good business idea
  • Your idea is the first step
  • Resources and tools

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Side Hustle Nation

7 Proven Ways to Come Up with New Business Ideas – With Real Life Examples

how to come up with a business idea

Aspiring entrepreneurs often get stuck in the business idea phase — that is, they’re confident they could run a killer business, make a ton of money, and live the good life — if they could only come up with the right idea.

If that’s you — the idea seeker — I’ve got good news for you: coming up with new business ideas is actually pretty easy.

It’s what comes next that’s hard!

But today, let’s go through some of the proven methods you can use to come up with your first (or next) business idea.

1. The Rip, Pivot, and Jam Method

2. the sniper method, 3. the shovels in the gold rush method, 4. the intersection method.

  • 5. The Scratch Your Own Itch Method
  • 6. The Expert Enough Method

7. The Probing for Pain Method

How to come up with business ideas: your turn.

I first heard of this method from one of my favorite podcasts, the Tropical MBA show .

Here’s how it works:

  • you look at another successful business, and copy their business model (rip) …
  • but apply it to a new industry or vertical (pivot) …
  • and then hustle like crazy to get customers (jam).

My friend Gabe Arnold used this method after seeing the success of WP Curve , a monthly subscription service that offered unlimited WordPress support. He decided to rip that model, pivot it to provide a content writing service, and jammed to grow it to $20,000 in monthly recurring revenue .

new problem solving business ideas

Alexandra Kenin saw plenty of bike tours, bus tours, walking tours, and even Segway tours in her adopted hometown of San Francisco, so she had the idea to offer an “urban hiking” tour . Now her company hosts 1000 urban hikers a year and she’s even gotten a book deal out of her not-so-little side hustle!

Some businesses are like shotguns and others are like sniper rifles.

Let me explain.

When you fire a shotgun, it sprays out a wide net of ammunition. In contrast, a sniper rifle fires a single deadly projectile.

Both weapons have their time and place, but for entrepreneurs just starting out, it makes more sense to think like a sniper.

For example, if Amazon is a shotgun; Travis Marziani’s BDancewear.com is a sniper rifle. Instead of selling every product imaginable, they only sell dance clothing.

That means they can do more targeted marketing and they appear more relevant and authoritative to the right customers.

new problem solving business ideas

I used The Sniper Method when I was building my first official side hustle, a comparison shopping site for footwear.

There were dozens of other comparison shopping sites out there, like NexTag, PriceGrabber, and Shopping.com, but they all were shotguns. They tried to include every product under the sun, and as a result, left opportunity for a sniper like me.

(It’s purely coincidental my site was eventually called ShoeSniper.com .)

new problem solving business ideas

I reasoned that by focusing solely (pun intended) on shoes, I could deliver more accurate search results, negotiate exclusive deals, and appear more relevant to customers.

Perhaps you’ve heard the advice, “In a gold rush, sell shovels.” The phrase comes from Sam Brannan, allegedly California’s first millionaire, who brought news of gold to San Francisco.

But before he made his announcement, Brannan bought up all the picks and shovels in the city, so he could resell them to hopeful prospectors.

new problem solving business ideas

And even though this happened more than 150 years ago, gold rushes still happen all the time. We’re just not looking for literal gold in the ground anymore; we’re looking for it in the form of the latest trend or hot fad.

In online business, I’ve seen gold rushes around ebay , niche sites , self-publishing , t-shirts , Amazon FBA , and more. And every time, some of the best businesses to come out of these rushes are the supporting services.

For instance, a ton of businesses have been built exclusively to serve Amazon FBA sellers. These are product research services like Jungle Scout , inventory management tools like Inventory Lab , and price scanning tools like Profit Bandit .

So to use the Shovels in the Gold Rush method, you just need to find a gold rush to support. Maybe that’s Airbnb hosts, maybe it’s Crossfit “box” owners, maybe it’s people getting into the latest network marketing trend.

Think of what common problems they have? Or, if you’re in the gold rush yourself, what problems do you have?

“Find a hot trend and piggyback on it ,” Toni Anderson told me, who successfully used the “Shovel” method to sell bracelets and diffuser necklaces into the essential oil gold rush. It turned into a 6-figure business in 7 months .

The Intersection method aims to find potential service business ideas at the intersection of:

  • Your skills
  • Your interests
  • Your network

For example, I started a freelance book editing business using this exact method:

  • I thought I was a decent writer and a decent proofreader (hey, I was an A-student in English), even though I’d never been paid for it.
  • I was interested in reading non-fiction (specifically business) books, and had even written a handful myself .
  • I was in Facebook groups with other self-published authors.

It worked well and was a fun little side hustle experiment. I read some great (and some not-so-great) books and earned some extra cash.

new problem solving business ideas

To play around with this, get out a piece of paper and make 3 columns. 

In the first, list your skills.

It might help to refer to your resume for this one. For instance, I’d put down experience from my past jobs like ski instructor, shelving books, painting houses, and inside sales, plus some of what I’ve learned on the side like WordPress, SEO, and podcasting.

In the second column, list your interests outside of work.

What do you enjoy doing? For me this column would include items like playing softball, skiing, traveling, learning, or even parenting.

In the last column, list out the who you know , or rather the types of people you know.

I don’t mean listing out everyone by name, but look for common threads on where they work and what they do.

Today, my network includes a lot of bloggers, podcasters, authors, freelancers, and ecommerce sellers, but I could also include engineers (my wife’s coworkers), photographers, parents, and car dealers (from my old job).

new problem solving business ideas

Next, you can play the matchmaking game to see if there might be an intersection to combine items from the 3 columns into a potential business idea.

Note: You can actually substitute a platform like Fiverr for your network if you don’t have any connections with potential clients. This is what Kendell Rizzo did when she combined her skill of copywriting with her interest in crowdfunding to create a lucrative side hustle ( $100k in profit in 18 months ).

5. The Scratch Your Own Itch Method

Solve your own problem, the saying goes, because other people are probably facing the same issue.

This one is easy. For the rest of the day, just keep a mental note of all the things that frustrate you, that you spend money to solve, or that you wish you didn’t have to deal with.

All of those are potential business ideas.

For Erin Chase, she was looking for ways to cut her family’s grocery budget, and ended up getting serious about meal planning. She posted her meal plans online, and they ended up going viral! Turns out, her pain point struck a nerve with a lot of other families as well.

That turned into a subscription service called $5 Meal Plan that’s still going strong.

new problem solving business ideas

Steve Young’s side hustle was building smartphone apps, but he wanted to know how he could get more downloads and sales. So he started the Mobile App Chat podcast (now called AppMasters ) to talk to other more successful app developers and get their advice.

He hustled mornings, lunch breaks, and evenings to record episodes and grow his listenership. Since then, that little part-time podcast not only helped him sell more apps, but’s turned into a full-time business on its own with multiple streams of income .

new problem solving business ideas

And finally, Perrin Carrell found himself the proud owner of a new adopted puppy. But when he started looking around online for the best kind of food for his new best friend, he was disappointed in the results.

So he thought, if none of the existing dog blogs have truly exceptional content, maybe I could build one to fill the void.

Less than two years later, the site he created, HerePup.com , was valued at $200,000 .

new problem solving business ideas

6. The Expert Enough Method

What do your friends, family, and peers ask you for help with?

Are you the go-to person in your circle for tech support, photography, handyman work, accounting, BBQ technique, travel planning, or something else?

If people are asking for your help, they think you’re Expert Enough. (Now they might not be willing to pay for you advice, but that doesn’t mean others won’t.)

Mechanical engineer Matt Bochnak was always tinkering in his garage with motorcycles — his own and his friends’. One day he wondered if anyone would pay for his Expert Enough repair service, and sure enough, his ad on Craigslist started to draw in new customers.

And the other smart thing Matt did was set up a camera to film himself doing the repairs, which has led to a profitable YouTube channel and even selling full repair walkthrough video files online, effectively turning a service business into a passive income business .

new problem solving business ideas

Colin Jones had an entirely different skillset people kept coming to him for advice on: counting cards. He and his blackjack teams won nearly $4 million from casinos, so he set up a website to teach others his expertise.

Today his site has more than 500 paying members and earns Colin more than enough to support his family .

new problem solving business ideas

The Probing for Pain method can be incredibly profitable if you know how to ask the right questions.

How this generally works is calling up a business owner — could be someone you have a previous relationship with or someone you’ve never met — and asking questions like:

  • Tell me a little about your business?
  • What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry over the next 5 years?
  • What does a typical day look like for you?
  • What’s the most frustrating or time-consuming part of your business?

What you’re trying to do is uncover an expensive problem , as Jonathan Stark would call it.

new problem solving business ideas

John Logar is the master at this. Maybe it’s the friendly Australian accent, but he has a gift of getting people talking.

In my conversation with John, he broke down how he pre-sold $120k worth of software (that didn’t even exist yet!) starting with no list and no ideas — using only the Probing for Pain method.

Which of these business idea generating methods could you use?

Hopefully this post has your gears turning!

Let me know your favorite in the comments below.

Want more? Here are some of my favorite business ideas for kids (and grown-ups too) .

new problem solving business ideas

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons , The Side Hustle , and $1,000 100 Ways .

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

19 thoughts on “7 Proven Ways to Come Up with New Business Ideas – With Real Life Examples”

My favorite is ALSO by far the most difficult method…#7. (at least for us introverts who may struggle to speak comfortably with strangers ;-) I’ll also add one more method (more of a thought process though). –> Make a HABIT of routinely brainstorming new business ideas. This is something James Altrucher, Seth Godin, and others have all done on a regular basis. The act of actively thinking on/journaling about/writing down business ideas trains your mind to start recognizing opportunities on every street corner.

Side Note: I’m interviewing Nick for a podcast in 58 minutes, and maybe I’ll challenge him to do this for a minute :)

Also, argh formatting!

This article is really interesting to me… I have always been in the group you mention in the first paragraph, those who think they could start a business but didn’t have an idea to run with. Your outline here (especially with all the examples and the skills/interests/network chart) seems very do-able and a great jumpstart to brainstorming ideas. I look forward to sitting down and giving it a try!

Great points of coming up with business ideas.Talking to customers or the shoppers is an another great idea of meeting people’s need, for example, if you are interested in mountain bikes, hang out in the aisles of sports and bike shops and ask customers what they wish they could find in the marketplace. If you’re interested in developing an e-commerce business, consider sending an online survey to potential customers to learn about their needs and interests.

I like the Expert Enough and the Intersection Method. I am always looking to learn and do new things and have many under my belt. I have to give this deeper thought and use the list from the Intersection Method that could possibly help me combine these methods to come up with a NEW side hustle….already have one….. Thanks!! Lisa

What about very shy individuals who for whatever reason are more backward than the old Tsars of Russia? Is there any such thing as someone with absolutely no value to offer, who amounts to a white elephant?

Just wanted to say that I’m so glad I joined your email list. You have some really great content! I’m currently freelancing in addition to my 9-5, but looking for a more profitable business idea. These are great.

Awesome, thanks Lanie!

Perhaps I should elucidate: As a thinker I like your ideas. I have even subscribed. However, the successful application of your guidelines eludes me. I wrack every fibre of my brain and beyond struggling to find something from which I could profit, and after so much pain and anguish, I usually end with nothing useful, and when I do pursue a good idea (and a plan to execute it), I invariably crash into a (metaphorical) brick wall. It all makes me feel as though I am a white elephant, costly and useless to all. I even lack the nerve to simply end it.

Hi A.D. I think we’ve all felt like that at certain points. It was actually after a particularly low point and some soul searching that this site came into existence. Last year the Side Hustle Nation community rallied some advice and support for another member, and I think their words might be helpful / pertinent today: https://www.sidehustlenation.com/broke-angry-trapped/

Really helpful article.I liked it has to work for you to be effective.Thanks for shearing.

Another great and super helpful article. I loved all your tips but #1 – Rip, Pivot, and Jam is my favorite. To start I love its name! The thought process is brilliant – take a proven business model of a successful company and apply its principles to a different industry, product or service and you have the foundation of a winning startup. Today I am going to do some brainstorming on how I can use this technique to create a new revenue stream in the clothing business using internet SAAS business models. Thanks for the inspiration and instruction.

Great post, Its really help me a lot.

Interesting Post! I loved the Sniper Method Part.

Wow, what a fantastic piece of work. The Scratch Your Own Itch is my favorite even though I just found out it has a name. Reading success stories of such businesses is somehow motivational to me. And I also loved that you put examples of real businesses that had success using the mentioned methods. Just subscribed to receive more awesome stuff like this.

You might also want to check this article with tips for entrepreneurs who want to kickstart their business: https://www.renderforest.com/blog/how-to-start-a-startup

Thanks for your work again and have a nice dau.

The side hustle has proves itself today to be the #1 source of ultimate income vs working 20 to 40 years in daytime employment. However, I’m not ruling out not working a day job because everyone needs a livelihood and not everyone needs or is into side hustles. But the side hustle has definitely proven itself worthy as a stable avenue of meaningful income and good money to save for post-retirement. In the next 5 to 10 years, judges, CEOs, lawyers, government employers, prosecutors, entry-level workers, former managers, and unemployed-homeless people will gain great knowledge of side hustles and affiliate marketing and discover untapped success.

I like this, will save it for later. Great post!

Very interesting article. thank you

Some people who don’t want to see others succeed try to make the targeted person feel as if they are inadequate. They deny them promotions. They slander them with false writeups. They secretly terminate them. They secretly create enmity between them and other employees. They even try to make them feel as if they were to go out and start another job or try to start a business that they might be too old to do that and just stay right where they are and put up with the bad treatment from the narcissist employer.

The good news about the side hustle is that you’re never too old to learn something new. You’re never too old to start your own business. You have the right to stand up and challenge your narcissist employer who treats you bad by respectfully voicing your distaste for their workplace negativity and setting you up for termination. You have the right to start working on your side hustle and putting your business ideas with or without gainful employment. New business ideas gets anyone out of the JOB (just over broke) mindset and into an untapped entrepreneurial mindset of positive thinking, with the added potential of using the entrepreneurial mind now unleashed to create new online revenue streams. :-)

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10 Step Process for Effective Business Problem Solving

Posted august 3, 2021 by harriet genever.

Navigate uncertainty by following this 10-step process to develop your problem-solving skills and approach any issue with confidence. 

When you start a small business or launch a startup, the one thing you can count on is the unexpected. No matter how thoroughly you plan, forecast , and test, problems are bound to arise. This is why as an entrepreneur, you need to know how to solve business problems effectively.

What is problem solving in business?

Problem solving in business relates to establishing processes that mitigate or remove obstacles currently preventing you from reaching strategic goals . These are typically complex issues that create a gap between actual results and your desired outcome. They may be present in a single team, operational process, or throughout your entire organization, typically without an immediate or obvious solution. 

To approach problem solving successfully, you need to establish consistent processes that help you evaluate, explore solutions, prioritize execution, and measure success. In many ways, it should be similar to how you review business performance through a monthly plan review . You work through the same documentation, look for gaps, dig deeper to identify the root cause, and hash out options. Without this process, you simply cannot expect to solve problems efficiently or effectively. 

Why problem solving is important for your business

While some would say problem-solving comes naturally, it’s actually a skill you can grow and refine over time. Problem solving skills will help you and your team tackle critical issues and conflicts as they arise. It starts from the top. You as the business owner or CEO needing to display the type of level-headed problem solving that you expect to see from your employees.

Doing so will help you and your staff quickly deal with issues, establish and refine a problem solving process, turn challenges into opportunities, and generally keep a level head. Now, the best business leaders didn’t just find a magic solution to solve their problems, they built processes and leveraged tools to find success. And you can do the same.

By following this 10-step process, you can develop your problem-solving skills and approach any issue that arises with confidence. 

1. Define the problem

When a problem arises, it can be very easy to jump right into creating a solution. However, if you don’t thoroughly examine what led to the problem in the first place, you may create a strategy that doesn’t actually solve it. You may just be treating the symptoms.

For instance, if you realize that your sales from new customers are dropping, your first inclination might be to rush into putting together a marketing plan to increase exposure. But what if decreasing sales are just a symptom of the real problem? 

When you define the problem, you want to be sure you’re not missing the forest for the trees. If you have a large issue on your hands, you’ll want to look at it from several different angles:

Competition 

Is a competitor’s promotion or pricing affecting your sales? Are there new entrants in your market? How are they marketing their product or business?

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Is your business model sustainable? Is it realistic for how fast you want to grow? Should you explore different pricing or cost strategies?

Market factors

How are world events and the nation’s economy affecting your customers and your sales?

Are there any issues affecting your team? Do they have the tools and resources they need to succeed? 

Goal alignment 

Is everyone on your team working toward the same goal ? Have you communicated your short-term and long-term business goals clearly and often?

There are a lot of ways to approach the issue when you’re facing a serious business problem. The key is to make sure you’re getting a full snapshot of what’s going on so you don’t waste money and resources on band-aid solutions. 

Going back to our example, by looking at every facet of your business, you may discover that you’re spending more on advertising than your competitors already. And instead, there’s a communication gap within your team that’s leading to the mishandling of new customers and therefore lost sales. 

If you jumped into fixing the exposure of your brand, you would have been dumping more money into an area you’re already winning. Potentially leading to greater losses as more and more new customers are dropped due to poor internal communication.

This is why it’s so vital that you explore your blind spots and track the problem to its source.

2. Conduct a SWOT analysis

All good businesses solve some sort of problem for customers. What if your particular business problem is actually an opportunity, or even a strength if considered from a different angle? This is when you’d want to conduct a SWOT analysis to determine if that is in fact the case.

SWOT is a great tool for strategic planning and bringing multiple viewpoints to the table when you’re looking at investing resources to solve a problem. This may even be incorporated in your attempts to identify the source of your problem, as it can quickly outline specific strengths and weaknesses of your business. And then by identifying any potential opportunities or threats, you can utilize your findings to kickstart a solution. 

3. Identify multiple solutions with design thinking

As you approach solving your problem, you may want to consider using the design thinking approach . It’s often used by organizations looking to solve big, community-based problems. One of its strengths is that it requires involving a wide range of people in the problem-solving process. Which leads to multiple perspectives and solutions arising.

This approach—applying your company’s skills and expertise to a problem in the market—is the basis for design thinking.

It’s not about finding the most complex problems to solve, but about finding common needs within the organization and in the real world and coming up with solutions that fit those needs. When you’re solving business problems, this applies in the sense that you’re looking for solutions that address underlying issues—you’re looking at the big picture.

4. Conduct market research and customer outreach

Market research and customer outreach aren’t the sorts of things small business owners and startups can do once and then cross off the list. When you’re facing a roadblock, think back to the last time you did some solid market research or took a deep dive into understanding the competitive landscape .

Market research and the insights you get from customer outreach aren’t a silver bullet. Many companies struggle with what they should do with conflicting data points. But it’s worth struggling through and gathering information that can help you better understand your target market . Plus, your customers can be one of the best sources of criticism. It’s actually a gift if you can avoid taking the negatives personally .

The worst thing you can do when you’re facing challenges is isolating yourself from your customers and ignore your competition. So survey your customers. Put together a competitive matrix . 

5. Seek input from your team and your mentors

Don’t do your SWOT analysis or design thinking work by yourself. The freedom to express concerns, opinions, and ideas will allow people in an organization to speak up. Their feedback is going to help you move faster and more efficiently. If you have a team in place, bring them into the discussion. You hired them to be experts in their area; use their expertise to navigate and dig deeper into underlying causes of problems and potential solutions.

If you’re running your business solo, at least bring in a trusted mentor. SCORE offers a free business mentorship program if you don’t already have one. It can also be helpful to connect with a strategic business advisor , especially if business financials aren’t your strongest suit.

Quoting Stephen Covey, who said that “strength lies in differences, not in similarities,” speaking to the importance of diversity when it comes to problem-solving in business. The more diverse a team is , the more often innovative solutions to the problems faced by the organization appear.

In fact, it has been found that groups that show greater diversity were better at solving problems than groups made up specifically of highly skilled problem solvers. So whoever you bring in to help you problem-solve, resist the urge to surround yourself with people who already agree with you about everything.

6. Apply lean planning for nimble execution

So you do your SWOT analysis and your design thinking exercise. You come up with a set of strong, data-driven ideas. But implementing them requires you to adjust your budget, or your strategic plan, or even your understanding of your target market.

Are you willing to change course? Can you quickly make adjustments? Well in order to grow, you can’t be afraid to be nimble . 

By adopting the lean business planning method —the process of revising your business strategy regularly—you’ll be able to shift your strategies more fluidly. You don’t want to change course every week, and you don’t want to fall victim to shiny object thinking. But you can strike a balance that allows you to reduce your business’s risk while keeping your team heading in the right direction.

Along the way, you’ll make strategic decisions that don’t pan out the way you hoped. The best thing you can do is test your ideas and iterate often so you’re not wasting money and resources on things that don’t work. That’s Lean Planning .

7. Model different financial scenarios

When you’re trying to solve a serious business problem, one of the best things you can do is build a few different financial forecasts so you can model different scenarios. You might find that the idea that seemed the strongest will take longer than you thought to reverse a negative financial trend. At the very least you’ll have better insight into the financial impact of moving in a different direction.

The real benefit here is looking at different tactical approaches to the same problem. Maybe instead of increasing sales right now, you’re better off in the long run if you adopt a strategy to reduce churn and retain your best customers. You won’t know unless you model a few different scenarios. You can do this by using spreadsheets, and a tool like LivePlan can make it easier and quicker.

8. Watch your cash flow

While you’re working to solve a challenging business problem, pay particular attention to your cash flow and your cash flow forecast . Understanding when your company is at risk of running out of cash in the bank can help you be proactive. It’s a lot easier to get a line of credit while your financials still look good and healthy, than when you’re one pay period away from ruin.

If you’re dealing with a serious issue, it’s easy to start to get tunnel vision. You’ll benefit from maintaining a little breathing room for your business as you figure out what to do next.

9. Use a decision-making framework

Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, generated a number of ideas, and done some financial modeling, you might still feel uncertain. It’s natural—you’re not a fortune-teller. You’re trying to make the best decision you can with the information you have.

This article offers a really useful approach to making decisions. It starts with putting your options into a matrix like this one:

new problem solving business ideas

Use this sort of framework to put everything you’ve learned out on the table. If you’re working with a bigger team, this sort of exercise can also bring the rest of your team to the table so they feel some ownership over the outcome.

10. Identify key metrics to track

How will you know your problem is solved? And not just the symptom—how will you know when you’ve addressed the underlying issues? Before you dive into enacting the solution, make sure you know what success looks like.

Decide on a few key performance indicators . Take a baseline measurement, and set a goal and a timeframe. You’re essentially translating your solution into a plan, complete with milestones and goals. Without these, you’ve simply made a blind decision with no way to track success. You need those goals and milestones to make your plan real .

Problem solving skills to improve

As you and your team work through this process, it’s worth keeping in mind specific problem solving skills you should continue to develop. Bolstering your ability, as well as your team, to solve problems effectively will only make this process more useful and efficient. Here are a few key skills to work on.

Emotional intelligence

It can be very easy to make quick, emotional responses in a time of crisis or when discussing something you’re passionate about. To avoid making assumptions and letting your emotions get the best of you, you need to focus on empathizing with others. This involves understanding your own emotional state, reactions and listening carefully to the responses of your team. The more you’re able to listen carefully, the better you’ll be at asking for and taking advice that actually leads to effective problem solving.

Jumping right into a solution can immediately kill the possibility of solving your problem. Just like when you start a business , you need to do the research into what the problem you’re solving actually is. Luckily, you can embed research into your problem solving by holding active reviews of financial performance and team processes. Simply asking “What? Where? When? How?” can lead to more in-depth explorations of potential issues.

The best thing you can do to grow your research abilities is to encourage and practice curiosity. Look at every problem as an opportunity. Something that may be trouble now, but is worth exploring and finding the right solution. You’ll pick up best practices, useful tools and fine-tune your own research process the more you’re willing to explore.

Brainstorming

Creatively brainstorming with your team is somewhat of an art form. There needs to be a willingness to throw everything at the wall and act as if nothing is a bad idea at the start. This style of collaboration encourages participation without fear of rejection. It also helps outline potential solutions outside of your current scope, that you can refine and turn into realistic action.

Work on breaking down problems and try to give everyone in the room a voice. The more input you allow, the greater potential you have for finding the best solution.

Decisiveness

One thing that can drag out acting upon a potential solution, is being indecisive. If you aren’t willing to state when the final cutoff for deliberation is, you simply won’t take steps quickly enough. This is when having a process for problem solving comes in handy, as it purposefully outlines when you should start taking action.

Work on choosing decision-makers, identify necessary results and be prepared to analyze and adjust if necessary. You don’t have to get it right every time, but taking action at the right time, even if it fails, is almost more vital than never taking a step.  

Stemming off failure, you need to learn to be resilient. Again, no one gets it perfect every single time. There are so many factors in play to consider and sometimes even the most well-thought-out solution doesn’t stick. Instead of being down on yourself or your team, look to separate yourself from the problem and continue to think of it as a puzzle worth solving. Every failure is a learning opportunity and it only helps you further refine and eliminate issues in your strategy.

Problem solving is a process

The key to effective problem-solving in business is the ability to adapt. You can waste a lot of resources on staying the wrong course for too long. So make a plan to reduce your risk now. Think about what you’d do if you were faced with a problem large enough to sink your business. Be as proactive as you can.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2016. It was updated in 2021.

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Harriet Genever

Harriet Genever

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Why Didn’t I Think of That? 18 Creative Business Ideas

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Humans are wonderfully different from one another, meaning there are countless ways to think, create, act and live. Every successful entrepreneur has cultivated their unique passions and interests and learned valuable lessons in life and business. Their experiences can serve them well professionally as they embark on new ventures. If you need a little inspiration for your own entrepreneurial dreams, see the ideas below to get you started.

Creative business ideas

Great business ideas often stem from an entrepreneur’s attempts to solve problems they and others have experienced. Consider the following creative business ideas that may inspire your next venture. We’ve grouped them by category to make them easier to browse.

Business ideas for retirees

Online businesses 

Diane Eschenbach, an entrepreneur and author of How to Quickly Start a Business Online , said she thinks online businesses are a great option for retirees, as long as the entrepreneur doesn’t let technology intimidate them. She suggested curation sites, which aggregate information for easy reading, as one of the most accessible and engaging online business ideas to pursue. 

Consulting and coaching

Consulting and coaching are excellent business ideas for older entrepreneurs who can leverage their passion and experience. Skills from previous jobs and rich life experiences make retirees well positioned to share their knowledge. 

Mastermind groups

Members of mastermind groups meet regularly to collaborate and solve problems or issues by tapping into the group’s collective experience, skills and knowledge. As seasoned professionals, older entrepreneurs hold an advantage in this market. Owners of mastermind groups can generate thousands of dollars a month, depending on the size and location of the group and the premium they set for becoming a member.

Trendy business ideas

Food trucks

Over 36,000 food truck businesses exist in the U.S. as of 2023, representing an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2022. Although starting a food truck business means facing stiff competition and working long hours, it has a high potential for handsome rewards. And compared with starting a restaurant , the food truck business comes with relatively low overhead costs.

Yoga businesses

Yoga harnesses the best elements of fitness and relaxation to create a mind, body and spirit connection that rejuvenates and strengthens. Yoga studios find particular success in metropolitan areas with a young demographic, where they can expand their offerings to include food, beverages or yoga accessories.

3D-printing businesses

What once seemed like a high-tech, futuristic device is now a reality: 3D-printing applications allow users to create physical objects at home and act as low-volume manufacturing machines for small businesses. As a business itself, 3D-printing companies can create templates for 3D-printer owners to use or print toys, parts and other objects for clients. 

Death-centric business ideas

Murder-scene maids

Captivated by the macabre? Have a strong stomach and a penchant for dirty jobs? If so, a biohazard cleaning company might fit your interests well. Baxter Restoration, a cleaning and reconstruction company in Orlando, Florida, offers biohazard cleaning services and may present a jumping-off point for entrepreneurs who are interested in a similar idea. Baxter Restoration specializes in blood, crime scene, meth lab, and hoarding cleanup and restoration to create a habitable space.

Biodegradable coffins

A biodegradable coffin company appeals to the rising demand for environmentally friendly and sustainable products . Biodegradable coffins reduce the carbon footprint of the funeral home industry and offer an affordable alternative during a challenging time in many people’s lives. Your business would also have a natural tie-in to Earth Day every year.

Carbon-free cremation 

Also known as flameless cremation or alkaline hydrolysis, this process uses water to turn the body to ash. Much like environmentally friendly coffin makers, purveyors of flameless cremation reduce carbon emissions and energy, and they don’t use fossil fuels. If you’re concerned about climate change, this could be an impactful venture for you.

Business ideas for the senior market

Financial planning

Building and promoting financial education resources online for the senior market is a strong idea if you’re passionate about financial literacy and serving an older generation. In addition, you may find success in asset management for retirees by helping clients understand the lifestyle they can afford after retirement.

In-home care

The in-home-care market exists for older adults who choose not to move to a senior living community but struggle to keep up with grocery shopping, the maintenance of their residences, and other self-care activities. While they are not incapable of performing the activities of daily living, these older adults need a little help ensuring their safety and comfort. This would be a great fit if you have experience as a caregiver or personal assistant.

Selling or storing possessions

If an older adult stays in their home, they may purge their possessions. A business that helps seniors sell or store possessions fills a desperate need and joins a busy niche. Self-storage caters to people who may want to keep family heirlooms, but not in their homes. Retail helpers and antique sellers who assist in selling vintage possessions will most likely serve an older market or interact with their adult children after their parents’ death.

Ways to find business ideas

If you haven’t found a business idea that speaks to your skills and interests, consider the following ways to discover new business ideas.

Searching questions in subreddits

If you’re looking for new business ideas, you should review subreddits on Reddit and “Ask me anything” threads. Here, you can ask experts and celebrities questions that may lead to ideas for small or midsize businesses.

Talking to family and friends

Your loved ones can be helpful when you’re deciding what type of business to launch. Your family and friends usually know you best and can help you identify your strengths and how you might apply them when you start a business . Additionally, two (or more) heads are better than one for brainstorming.

Solving everyday issues

Are you a go-to problem-solver for specific issues in your loved ones’ lives? For example, maybe friends seek your guidance when cooking new recipes, or perhaps family members reach out for fashion advice. If there’s an area of expertise in which you thrive, you could make a profitable business out of it.

Considering your hobbies and passions

Today, you can create a business from nearly any passion. For example, if you enjoy writing, you might consider launching your own publishing company or magazine. If you love baking, you can start your own bakery. Consider the hobbies and interests that set your soul on fire and how you might capitalize on them. Pursuing your passions will also keep you motivated when business is slow because you’ll genuinely enjoy your work.

Analyzing Pinterest comments

If your talents lie in identifying or creating the next great must-have product, use a Pinterest account to get inspiration. Pay attention to the comments section on pins related to your passion or a niche industry to spark new ideas.

How to know if your business idea is good

While no formula can guarantee that a business will find immediate success, ask yourself these questions to gauge your idea’s value:

  • Does your business idea fill a gap? If a business introduces a new product or service that fills a gap in a market or niche, it probably has legs to stand on its own.
  • Is your business idea financially viable? A business’s ability to crowdfund signals a demand for the product or service and builds an excited fan base.
  • Do your mentors believe it’s a good idea? If your trusted business partners or seasoned mentors say the idea is worth pursuing, the business probably has potential.
  • Does the business idea perform well in trade shows and tests? If your idea generates buzz at conferences, trade shows and other professional events, it’s a sign the business can do well.
  • Are you passionate about your business idea? If you believe in the idea and work tirelessly to achieve your goals, your potential for success greatly increases.

Starting a unique business

Many creative business ideas exist. However, a business idea likely won’t become a profitable venture if you aren’t passionate about it or if it doesn’t fill a gap in the market. Ensure that your business idea is financially viable so you can create something sustainable and profitable. While startup mistakes are inevitable, vetting your idea and starting small can set you on a path to success. 

Sammi Caramela and Saige Driver contributed to this article.

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Creative Problem-Solving Strategies to Test Your Business Idea How to use an approach called 'design thinking' when you're creating a new product or business.

By Nadia Goodman Feb 28, 2013

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Truly innovative small businesses and startups create a bold vision of a future that doesn't exist yet, solving problems that customers don't even know they have. But they don't pull that vision out of thin air -- many inventive companies use a strategy called design thinking.

"Design thinking is a problem-solving approach," says Jeanne Liedtka, a design and innovation expert at University of Virginia's Darden School of Business . "It's a set of tools that help you make decisions in the kinds of high uncertainty situations that entrepreneurs face."

While business schools typically emphasize market research and data, design thinking focuses on real world interaction and experimentation. Many entrepreneurs naturally use ideas from this approach, but it's typically taught at design schools as a process for creating new products.

Using a design-thinking approach, entrepreneurs become anthropologists, studying the customers they hope to serve and using that knowledge to get simple prototypes into their hands quickly. "The power of a design thinking approach is that you get deep insight into customer needs," Liedtka says.

Related: How Thinking Like a Designer Can Inspire Innovation

Design thinking can also be a way to get off the ground when all you have is a vague idea. "The structure of design thinking really helps when you have no clue how to begin," Liedtka says. It helps you explore and guides you to find problems that need to be solved.

Liedtka breaks the design-thinking process into four stages, assigning a core question to each of them. Try asking yourself these questions as you create a new product or business:

1. What is the opportunity? The first step in the design-thinking process is to understand the solutions that already exist for the problem you're trying to solve or the group you want to help. "Design thinking starts with identifying an area of opportunity, not a solution," Liedtka says.

To do that, observe real people in their natural environment. For example, if you want to create a better tablet, watch a small group of 10 to 12 people using their current tablets in daily life. What do they like? What annoys them? What workarounds do they use to overcome design flaws? Those answers will highlight problems your customers don't even know they have -- problems that you can solve.

2. What if? In the second stage, start to imagine solutions. Take the list of needs you discovered in the field, then brainstorm as many ways to meet those needs as possible. Let yourself get creative here -- assume that anything is possible.

"The ideas you'll come out with aren't blue sky made up ideas," Liedtka says. "They're inspired by needs you've identified." By limiting the brainstorm process in that way, you increase the chances of finding a viable solution and creating a successful product.

3. What wows? Once you've exhausted all the possible solutions, think practically about which ones are most likely to work. "You're looking for the wow zone," Liedtka says. "That's the intersection of something that customers want, that you can create, and that's likely to have a profitable business model associated with it."

At this point, you're bringing more structure and data to the design process, essentially making a traditional business case for each of the options. With that lens, narrow your ideas down to a handful of viable options, some safe and some adventurous.

4. What works? Finally, create prototypes for each of those options and bring them back to the customers you observed at the beginning. Each prototype should be extremely simple, allowing you to watch and hear their reactions with minimal investment.

After your observations, take the feedback and iterate, creating another round of simple prototypes to test. "Small experiments are the way you fail, or ideally succeed, fast and cheap," Liedtka says. By the time you bring the product to market, you'll have more confidence in its chances of success.

Related: Unlocking Business Ideas Hidden in the Natural World

Nadia Goodman is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY. She is a former editor at YouBeauty.com, where she wrote about the psychology of health and beauty. She earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. Visit her website, nadiagoodman.com .

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How to Solve Problems

  • Laura Amico

new problem solving business ideas

To bring the best ideas forward, teams must build psychological safety.

Teams today aren’t just asked to execute tasks: They’re called upon to solve problems. You’d think that many brains working together would mean better solutions, but the reality is that too often problem-solving teams fall victim to inefficiency, conflict, and cautious conclusions. The two charts below will help your team think about how to collaborate better and come up with the best solutions for the thorniest challenges.

  • Laura Amico is a former senior editor at Harvard Business Review.

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Six problem-solving mindsets for very uncertain times

Great problem solvers are made, not born. That’s what we’ve found after decades of problem solving with leaders across business, nonprofit, and policy sectors. These leaders learn to adopt a particularly open and curious mindset, and adhere to a systematic process for cracking even the most inscrutable problems. They’re terrific problem solvers under any conditions. And when conditions of uncertainty are at their peak, they’re at their brilliant best.

Six mutually reinforcing approaches underly their success: (1) being ever-curious about every element of a problem; (2) being imperfectionists , with a high tolerance for ambiguity; (3) having a “dragonfly eye” view of the world, to see through multiple lenses; (4) pursuing occurrent behavior and experimenting relentlessly; (5) tapping into the collective intelligence , acknowledging that the smartest people are not in the room; and (6) practicing “show and tell” because storytelling begets action (exhibit).

Here’s how they do it.

1. Be ever-curious

As any parent knows, four-year-olds are unceasing askers. Think of the never-ending “whys” that make little children so delightful—and relentless. For the very young, everything is new and wildly uncertain. But they’re on a mission of discovery, and they’re determined to figure things out. And they’re good at it! That high-energy inquisitiveness is why we have high shelves and childproof bottles.

When you face radical uncertainty, remember your four-year-old or channel the four-year-old within you. Relentlessly ask, “Why is this so?” Unfortunately, somewhere between preschool and the boardroom, we tend to stop asking. Our brains make sense of massive numbers of data points by imposing patterns that have worked for us and other humans in the past. That’s why a simple technique, worth employing at the beginning of problem solving, is simply to pause and ask why conditions or assumptions are so until you arrive at the root of the problem. 1 This approach was originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota.

Natural human biases in decision making, including confirmation, availability, and anchoring biases, often cause us to shut down the range of solutions too early. 2 Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow , New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. Better—and more creative—solutions come from being curious about the broader range of potential answers.

One simple suggestion from author and economist Caroline Webb to generate more curiosity in team problem solving is to put a question mark behind your initial hypotheses or first-cut answers. This small artifice is surprisingly powerful: it tends to encourage multiple solution paths and puts the focus, correctly, on assembling evidence. We also like thesis/antithesis, or red team/blue team, sessions, in which you divide a group into opposing teams that argue against the early answers—typically, more traditional conclusions that are more likely to come from a conventional pattern. Why is this solution better? Why not that one? We’ve found that better results come from embracing uncertainty. Curiosity is the engine of creativity.

We have to be comfortable with estimating probabilities to make good decisions, even when these guesses are imperfect. Unfortunately, we have truckloads of evidence showing that human beings aren’t good intuitive statisticians.

2. Tolerate ambiguity—and stay humble!

When we think of problem solvers, many of us tend to picture a poised and brilliant engineer. We may imagine a mastermind who knows what she’s doing and approaches a problem with purpose. The reality, though, is that most good problem solving has a lot of trial and error; it’s more like the apparent randomness of rugby than the precision of linear programming. We form hypotheses, porpoise into the data, and then surface and refine (or throw out) our initial guess at the answer. This above all requires an embrace of imperfection and a tolerance for ambiguity—and a gambler’s sense of probabilities.

The real world is highly uncertain. Reality unfolds as the complex product of stochastic events and human reactions. The impact of COVID-19 is but one example: we address the health and economic effects of the disease, and their complex interactions, with almost no prior knowledge. We have to be comfortable with estimating probabilities to make good decisions, even when these guesses are imperfect. Unfortunately, we have truckloads of evidence showing that human beings aren’t good intuitive statisticians. Guesses based on gut instinct can be wildly wrong. That’s why one of the keys to operating in uncertain environments is epistemic humility, which Erik Angner defines as “the realization that our knowledge is always provisional and incomplete—and that it might require revision in light of new evidence.” 3 Erik Angner, “Epistemic humility—knowing your limits in a pandemic,” Behavioral Scientist , April 13, 2020, behavioralscientist.org.

Recent research shows that we are better at solving problems when we think in terms of odds rather than certainties. 4 Annie Duke, Thinking in Terms of Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts , New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin, 2018. For example, when the Australian research body Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which owned a core patent on the wireless internet protocol, sought royalties from major companies, it was initially rebuffed. The CSIRO bet that it could go to court to protect its intellectual property because it estimated that it needed only 10 percent odds of success for this to be a good wager, given the legal costs and likely payoff. It improved its odds by picking the weakest of the IP violators and selecting a legal jurisdiction that favored plaintiffs. This probabilistic thinking paid off and eventually led to settlements to CSIRO exceeding $500 million. 5 CSIRO briefing to US Government, December 5, 2006. A tolerance for ambiguity and a willingness to play the odds helped the organization feel its way to a good solution path.

To embrace imperfectionism with epistemic humility, start by challenging solutions that imply certainty. You can do that in the nicest way by asking questions such as “What would we have to believe for this to be true?” This brings to the surface implicit assumptions about probabilities and makes it easier to assess alternatives. When uncertainty is high, see if you can make small moves or acquire information at a reasonable cost to edge out into a solution set. Perfect knowledge is in short supply, particularly for complex business and societal problems. Embracing imperfection can lead to more effective problem solving. It’s practically a must in situations of high uncertainty, such as the beginning of a problem-solving process or during an emergency.

Good problem solving typically involves designing experiments to reduce key uncertainties. Each move provides additional information and builds capabilities.

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3. take a dragonfly-eye view.

Dragonfly-eye perception is common to great problem solvers. Dragonflies have large, compound eyes, with thousands of lenses and photoreceptors sensitive to different wavelengths of light. Although we don’t know exactly how their insect brains process all this visual information, by analogy they see multiple perspectives not available to humans. The idea of a dragonfly eye taking in 360 degrees of perception 6 Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction , New York, NY: Crown, 2015. is an attribute of “superforecasters”—people, often without domain expertise, who are the best at forecasting events.

Think of this as widening the aperture on a problem or viewing it through multiple lenses. The object is to see beyond the familiar tropes into which our pattern-recognizing brains want to assemble perceptions. By widening the aperture, we can identify threats or opportunities beyond the periphery of vision.

Consider the outbreak of HIV in India in the early 1990s—a major public-health threat. Ashok Alexander, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s India Aids Initiative, provided a brilliant example of not just vision but also dragonfly vision. Facing a complex social map with a rapidly increasing infection rate, he widened the problem’s definition, from a traditional epidemiological HIV transmission model at known “hot spots,” to one in which sex workers facing violence were made the centerpiece.

This approach led to the “Avahan solution,” which addressed a broader set of leverage points by including the sociocultural context of sex work. The solution was rolled out to more than 600 communities and eventually credited with preventing 600,000 infections. The narrow medical perspective was sensible and expected, but it didn’t tap into the related issue of violence against sex workers, which yielded a richer solution set. Often, a secret unlocks itself only when one looks at a problem from multiple perspectives, including some that initially seem orthogonal.

The secret to developing a dragonfly-eye view is to “anchor outside” rather than inside when faced with problems of uncertainty and opportunity. Take the broader ecosystem as a starting point. That will encourage you to talk with customers, suppliers, or, better yet, players in a different but related industry or space. Going through the customer journey with design-thinking in mind is another powerful way to get a 360-degree view of a problem. But take note: when decision makers face highly constrained time frames or resources, they may have to narrow the aperture and deliver a tight, conventional answer.

Want better strategies? Become a bulletproof problem solver

Want better strategies? Become a bulletproof problem solver

4. pursue occurrent behavior.

Occurrent behavior is what actually happens in a time and place, not what was potential or predicted behavior. Complex problems don’t give up their secrets easily. But that shouldn’t deter problem solvers from exploring whether evidence on the facets of a solution can be observed, or running experiments to test hypotheses. You can think of this approach as creating data rather than just looking for what has been collected already. It’s critical for new market entry—or new market creation. It also comes in handy should you find that crunching old data is leading to stale solutions.

Most of the problem-solving teams we are involved with have twin dilemmas of uncertainty and complexity, at times combined as truly “wicked problems.” 7 A term coined in a now famous 1973 article: Horst W. J. Rittel and Melvin Webber, “Dilemmas in a general theory of planning,” Policy Sciences , 1973, Number 4, pp. 155–69. For companies ambitious to win in the great unknown in an emerging segment—such as electric cars or autonomous vehicles, where the market isn’t fully established—good problem solving typically involves designing experiments to reduce key uncertainties, not just relying on existing data. Each move (such as buying IP or acquiring a component supplier) and each experiment (including on-road closed tests) not only provides additional information to make decisions but also builds capabilities and assets that support further steps. Over time, their experiments, including alliances and acquisitions, come to resemble staircases that lead to either the goal or to abandonment of the goal. Problem-solving organizations can “bootstrap” themselves into highly uncertain new spaces, building information, foundational assets, and confidence as they take steps forward.

Risk-embracing problem solvers find a solution path by constantly experimenting. Statisticians use the abbreviation EVPI—the expected value of perfect information—to show the value of gaining additional information that typically comes from samples and experiments, such as responses to price changes in particular markets. A/B testing is a powerful tool for experimenting with prices, promotions, and other features and is particularly useful for digital marketplaces and consumer goods. Online marketplaces make A/B testing easy. Yet most conventional markets also offer opportunities to mimic the market’s segmentation and use it to test different approaches.

The mindset required to be a restless experimenter is consistent with the notion in start-ups of “failing fast.” It means that you get product and customer affirmation or rejection quickly through beta tests and trial offerings. Don’t take a lack of external data as an impediment—it may actually be a gift, since purchasable data is almost always from a conventional way of meeting needs, and is available to your competitors too. Your own experiments allow you to generate your own data; this gives you insights that others don’t have. If it is difficult (or unethical) to experiment, look for the “natural experiments” provided by different policies in similar locations. An example would be to compare outcomes in twin cities, such as Minneapolis–St. Paul.

It’s a mistake to think that your team has the smartest people in the room. They aren’t there. They’re invariably somewhere else. Nor do they need to be there if you can access their intelligence via other means.

5. Tap into collective intelligence and the wisdom of the crowd

Chris Bradley, a coauthor of Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick , 8 Chris Bradley, Marin Hirt, and Sven Smit, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds , Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2018. observed that “it’s a mistake to think that on your team you have the smartest people in the room. They aren’t there. They’re invariably somewhere else.” 9 For more from Chris Bradley, in a conversation with Rob McLean, see “ Want better strategies? Become a bulletproof problem solver ,” August 2019. Nor do they need to be there if you can access their intelligence via other means. In an ever-changing world where conditions can evolve unpredictably, crowdsourcing invites the smartest people in the world to work with you. For example, in seeking a machine-learning algorithm to identify fish catch species and quantities on fishing boats, the Nature Conservancy (TNC) turned to Kaggle and offered a $150,000 prize for the best algorithm. This offer attracted 2,293 teams from all over the world. TNC now uses the winning algorithm to identify fish types and sizes caught on fishing boats in Asia to protect endangered Pacific tuna and other species.

Crowdsourced problem solving is familiar in another guise: benchmarking. When Sir Rod Carnegie was CEO of Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA), he was concerned about the costs of unscheduled downtime with heavy trucks, particularly those requiring tire changes. He asked his management team who was best in the world at changing tires; their answer was Formula One, the auto racing competition. A team traveled to the United Kingdom to learn best practice for tire changes in racetrack pits and then implemented what it learned thousands of miles away, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The smartest team for this problem wasn’t in the mining industry at all.

Of course, while crowdsourcing can be useful when conventional thinking yields solutions that are too expensive or incomplete for the challenge at hand, it has its limitations. Good crowdsourcing takes time to set up, can be expensive, and may signal to your competitors what you are up to. Beware of hidden costs, such as inadvertently divulging information and having to sieve through huge volumes of irrelevant, inferior suggestions to find the rare gem of a solution.

Accept that it’s OK to draw on diverse experiences and expertise other than your own. Start with brainstorming sessions that engage people from outside your team. Try broader crowdsourcing competitions to generate ideas. Or bring in deep-learning talent to see what insights exist in your data that conventional approaches haven’t brought to light. The broader the circles of information you access, the more likely it is that your solutions will be novel and creative.

Rookie problem solvers show you their analytic process and math to convince you they are clever. Seasoned problem solvers show you differently.

6. Show and tell to drive action

We started our list of mindsets with a reference to children, and we return to children now, with “show and tell.” As you no doubt remember—back when you were more curious!—show and tell is an elementary-school activity. It’s not usually associated with problem solving, but it probably piqued your interest. In fact, this approach is critical to problem solving. Show and tell is how you connect your audience with the problem and then use combinations of logic and persuasion to get action.

The show-and-tell mindset aims to bring decision makers into a problem-solving domain you have created. A team from the Nature Conservancy, for instance, was presenting a proposal asking a philanthropic foundation to support the restoration of oyster reefs. Before the presentation, the team brought 17 plastic buckets of water into the boardroom and placed them around the perimeter. When the foundation’s staff members entered the room, they immediately wanted to know what the buckets were for. The team explained that oyster-reef restoration massively improves water quality because each oyster filters 17 buckets of water per day. Fish stocks improve, and oysters can also be harvested to help make the economics work. The decision makers were brought into the problem-solving domain through show and tell. They approved the funding requested and loved the physical dimension of the problem they were part of solving.

Rookie problem solvers show you their analytic process and mathematics to convince you that they are clever. That’s sometimes called APK, the anxious parade of knowledge. But seasoned problem solvers show you differently. The most elegant problem solving is that which makes the solution obvious. The late economist Herb Simon put it this way: “Solving a problem simply means representing it so as to make the solution transparent.” 10 Herbert Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial , Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1969.

To get better at show and tell, start by being clear about the action that should flow from your problem solving and findings: the governing idea for change. Then find a way to present your logic visually so that the path to answers can be debated and embraced. Present the argument emotionally as well as logically, and show why the preferred action offers an attractive balance between risks and rewards. But don’t stop there. Spell out the risks of inaction, which often have a higher cost than imperfect actions have.

The mindsets of great problem solvers are just as important as the methods they employ. A mindset that encourages curiosity, embraces imperfection, rewards a dragonfly-eye view of the problem, creates new data from experiments and collective intelligence, and drives action through compelling show-and-tell storytelling creates radical new possibilities under high levels of unpredictability. Of course, these approaches can be helpful in a broad range of circumstances, but in times of massive uncertainty, they are essential.

Charles Conn is an alumnus of McKinsey’s Sydney office and is a board member of Patagonia and former CEO of the Rhodes Trust. Robert McLean is an alumnus of the Sydney office and is the advisory-board chair of the Nature Conservancy Australia. They are the authors of Bulletproof Problem Solving: The One Skill That Changes Everything (Wiley, 2018).

This article was edited by David Schwartz, an executive editor in the Tel Aviv office.

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Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders in Any Industry

Business man leading team in problem-solving exercise with white board

  • 17 Jan 2023

Any organization offering a product or service is in the business of solving problems.

Whether providing medical care to address health issues or quick convenience to those hungry for dinner, a business’s purpose is to satisfy customer needs .

In addition to solving customers’ problems, you’ll undoubtedly encounter challenges within your organization as it evolves to meet customer needs. You’re likely to experience growing pains in the form of missed targets, unattained goals, and team disagreements.

Yet, the ubiquity of problems doesn’t have to be discouraging; with the right frameworks and tools, you can build the skills to solve consumers' and your organization’s most challenging issues.

Here’s a primer on problem-solving in business, why it’s important, the skills you need, and how to build them.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Problem-Solving in Business?

Problem-solving is the process of systematically removing barriers that prevent you or others from reaching goals.

Your business removes obstacles in customers’ lives through its products or services, just as you can remove obstacles that keep your team from achieving business goals.

Design Thinking

Design thinking , as described by Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar in the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , is a human-centered , solutions-based approach to problem-solving and innovation. Originally created for product design, design thinking’s use case has evolved . It’s now used to solve internal business problems, too.

The design thinking process has four stages :

4 Stages of Design Thinking

  • Clarify: Clarify a problem through research and feedback from those impacted.
  • Ideate: Armed with new insights, generate as many solutions as possible.
  • Develop: Combine and cull your ideas into a short list of viable, feasible, and desirable options before building prototypes (if making physical products) and creating a plan of action (if solving an intangible problem).
  • Implement: Execute the strongest idea, ensuring clear communication with all stakeholders about its potential value and deliberate reasoning.

Using this framework, you can generate innovative ideas that wouldn’t have surfaced otherwise.

Creative Problem-Solving

Another, less structured approach to challenges is creative problem-solving , which employs a series of exercises to explore open-ended solutions and develop new perspectives. This is especially useful when a problem’s root cause has yet to be defined.

You can use creative problem-solving tools in design thinking’s “ideate” stage, which include:

  • Brainstorming: Instruct everyone to develop as many ideas as possible in an allotted time frame without passing judgment.
  • Divergent thinking exercises: Rather than arriving at the same conclusion (convergent thinking), instruct everyone to come up with a unique idea for a given prompt (divergent thinking). This type of exercise helps avoid the tendency to agree with others’ ideas without considering alternatives.
  • Alternate worlds: Ask your team to consider how various personas would manage the problem. For instance, how would a pilot approach it? What about a young child? What about a seasoned engineer?

It can be tempting to fall back on how problems have been solved before, especially if they worked well. However, if you’re striving for innovation, relying on existing systems can stunt your company’s growth.

Related: How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips

Why Is Problem-Solving Important for Leaders?

While obstacles’ specifics vary between industries, strong problem-solving skills are crucial for leaders in any field.

Whether building a new product or dealing with internal issues, you’re bound to come up against challenges. Having frameworks and tools at your disposal when they arise can turn issues into opportunities.

As a leader, it’s rarely your responsibility to solve a problem single-handedly, so it’s crucial to know how to empower employees to work together to find the best solution.

Your job is to guide them through each step of the framework and set the parameters and prompts within which they can be creative. Then, you can develop a list of ideas together, test the best ones, and implement the chosen solution.

Related: 5 Design Thinking Skills for Business Professionals

4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need

1. problem framing.

One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you’re trying to solve.

“Before you begin to generate solutions for your problem, you must always think hard about how you’re going to frame that problem,” Datar says in the course.

For instance, imagine you work for a company that sells children’s sneakers, and sales have plummeted. When framing the problem, consider:

  • What is the children’s sneaker market like right now?
  • Should we improve the quality of our sneakers?
  • Should we assess all children’s footwear?
  • Is this a marketing issue for children’s sneakers specifically?
  • Is this a bigger issue that impacts how we should market or produce all footwear?

While there’s no one right way to frame a problem, how you do can impact the solutions you generate. It’s imperative to accurately frame problems to align with organizational priorities and ensure your team generates useful ideas for your firm.

To solve a problem, you need to empathize with those impacted by it. Empathy is the ability to understand others’ emotions and experiences. While many believe empathy is a fixed trait, it’s a skill you can strengthen through practice.

When confronted with a problem, consider whom it impacts. Returning to the children’s sneaker example, think of who’s affected:

  • Your organization’s employees, because sales are down
  • The customers who typically buy your sneakers
  • The children who typically wear your sneakers

Empathy is required to get to the problem’s root and consider each group’s perspective. Assuming someone’s perspective often isn’t accurate, so the best way to get that information is by collecting user feedback.

For instance, if you asked customers who typically buy your children’s sneakers why they’ve stopped, they could say, “A new brand of children’s sneakers came onto the market that have soles with more traction. I want my child to be as safe as possible, so I bought those instead.”

When someone shares their feelings and experiences, you have an opportunity to empathize with them. This can yield solutions to their problem that directly address its root and shows you care. In this case, you may design a new line of children’s sneakers with extremely grippy soles for added safety, knowing that’s what your customers care most about.

Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs

3. Breaking Cognitive Fixedness

Cognitive fixedness is a state of mind in which you examine situations through the lens of past experiences. This locks you into one mindset rather than allowing you to consider alternative possibilities.

For instance, your cognitive fixedness may make you think rubber is the only material for sneaker treads. What else could you use? Is there a grippier alternative you haven’t considered?

Problem-solving is all about overcoming cognitive fixedness. You not only need to foster this skill in yourself but among your team.

4. Creating a Psychologically Safe Environment

As a leader, it’s your job to create an environment conducive to problem-solving. In a psychologically safe environment, all team members feel comfortable bringing ideas to the table, which are likely influenced by their personal opinions and experiences.

If employees are penalized for “bad” ideas or chastised for questioning long-held procedures and systems, innovation has no place to take root.

By employing the design thinking framework and creative problem-solving exercises, you can foster a setting in which your team feels comfortable sharing ideas and new, innovative solutions can grow.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

How to Build Problem-Solving Skills

The most obvious answer to how to build your problem-solving skills is perhaps the most intimidating: You must practice.

Again and again, you’ll encounter challenges, use creative problem-solving tools and design thinking frameworks, and assess results to learn what to do differently next time.

While most of your practice will occur within your organization, you can learn in a lower-stakes setting by taking an online course, such as Design Thinking and Innovation . Datar guides you through each tool and framework, presenting real-world business examples to help you envision how you would approach the same types of problems in your organization.

Are you interested in uncovering innovative solutions for your organization’s business problems? Explore Design Thinking and Innovation —one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses —to learn how to leverage proven frameworks and tools to solve challenges. Not sure which course is right for you? Download our free flowchart .

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Unique Business Ideas That Solve Problems

Table of Contents

The best business ideas are those that give value to people. It needs to provide an ingenious solution to a particular consumer problem. Not only do these types of business ideas benefit customers, but they also give you the ability to profit from them. Everybody wins!

To help you get started, we’ve made a list of some great and unique  business ideas to solve problems .

There are many existing problems in the market today. It could be an outdated system or a way to meet a specific need. And each of these problems presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to create innovative products and services to solve them.

A person highlighting something on a piece of paper.

How to Start Your Own Business

Starting a business is no easy feat. There are many things that you need to take into account. But with hard work and the right strategies, there’s no reason why you can’t succeed.

Here are some of the main steps you need to do when starting your own business:

  • Identify a problem : Assess problems that consumers usually encounter or an outdated system that needs innovation.
  • Brainstorm for solutions : What can you do to solve the problem? Think of products or services you can offer
  • Conduct Market Research : Study your target market to confirm if there really is a demand for your product or service
  • Write a Business Plan : Plan out your entire business structure, including your financial projections, marketing goals, and so on.
  • Market Your Business : Get the word out about your business and attract clients and customers so you can help solve their problems .

Business Ideas to Solve Problems

Disaster and emergency preparedness kits.

Since climate change is a global occurrence, starting a business that provides disaster and emergency preparedness kits is a great idea. It’s not only a valid business idea but also a necessary one as weather disasters are expected to be more common in the future.

Your kits can include a flashlight, matches, water purification tablets, bandages and other useful items. These will help members of your community prepare for disasters. It is a perfect business idea that can help several communities.

Party cleanup services

The amount of mess a party leaves behind is staggering, and it is a daunting task to clean. To help solve this, you can start offering party cleanup services.

ssServices like these solve a major issue for party hosts and take much of the stress out of hosting a party.

Online Course Creator

When you know an industry or task really well, you can easily create and sell an online course that teaches people new skills.

You will only need to invest the resources required to develop the class. This is not only a great idea to earn money, but you can also make quality education more accessible to people.

Instagram for the not-so-aesthetic things in life

Too much Instagram can be detrimental to a person’s mental health. People tend to compare themselves to the fabricated picture-perfect things they see on the platform. But what about the imperfect part of our lives?

Why not make a platform where users can see the things that make us all human? A platform that strips off the filters and where people can showcase their authentic selves without being pressured to be perfect all the time. This can be a great business idea that many people will love!

Create a secure digital archive for all conversations

Imagine a vault that’s synced with all conversations with the special people in your life. Placing all Facebook messages, emails, and even text messages in one vault.

We have a fragmented communication and messaging system now. And we need to create a place that brings them all together and keeps them forever to preserve memories.

Start a niche cleaning service business.

It is almost impossible to count how many items need to be cleaned regularly. Cleaning is a common chore that most people don’t have time for. This is where you come in. You can start offering niche cleaning services that make people’s lives much easier.

Some of the services you can offer are:

  • Carpet Cleaning
  • Pet Grooming
  • Lawn Mowing
  • Window Cleaning

With so many things that need cleaning, there are plenty of opportunities for you to find your niche.

Provide freelance bookkeeping services for small business owners

Organizing financial information isn’t necessarily a glamorous job. But freelance accounting services are in high demand, particularly for small business owners. You can help fill this demand by offering bookkeeping services suited to meet small startups’ needs. 

Every problem can have a business solution. Don’t ignore the problems that surround you because they seem too complicated and go under the radar.

By accepting the need for change and creating solutions, you can get a better chance of making an impact. Use these  business ideas to solve problems  to help inspire your startup . Good luck!

Unique Business Ideas That Solve Problems

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving complex problems

Problem solving workshop

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All teams and organizations encounter challenges as they grow. There are problems that might occur for teams when it comes to miscommunication or resolving business-critical issues . You may face challenges around growth , design , user engagement, and even team culture and happiness. In short, problem-solving techniques should be part of every team’s skillset.

Problem-solving methods are primarily designed to help a group or team through a process of first identifying problems and challenges , ideating possible solutions , and then evaluating the most suitable .

Finding effective solutions to complex problems isn’t easy, but by using the right process and techniques, you can help your team be more efficient in the process.

So how do you develop strategies that are engaging, and empower your team to solve problems effectively?

In this blog post, we share a series of problem-solving tools you can use in your next workshop or team meeting. You’ll also find some tips for facilitating the process and how to enable others to solve complex problems.

Let’s get started! 

How do you identify problems?

How do you identify the right solution.

  • Tips for more effective problem-solving

Complete problem-solving methods

  • Problem-solving techniques to identify and analyze problems
  • Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions

Problem-solving warm-up activities

Closing activities for a problem-solving process.

Before you can move towards finding the right solution for a given problem, you first need to identify and define the problem you wish to solve. 

Here, you want to clearly articulate what the problem is and allow your group to do the same. Remember that everyone in a group is likely to have differing perspectives and alignment is necessary in order to help the group move forward. 

Identifying a problem accurately also requires that all members of a group are able to contribute their views in an open and safe manner. It can be scary for people to stand up and contribute, especially if the problems or challenges are emotive or personal in nature. Be sure to try and create a psychologically safe space for these kinds of discussions.

Remember that problem analysis and further discussion are also important. Not taking the time to fully analyze and discuss a challenge can result in the development of solutions that are not fit for purpose or do not address the underlying issue.

Successfully identifying and then analyzing a problem means facilitating a group through activities designed to help them clearly and honestly articulate their thoughts and produce usable insight.

With this data, you might then produce a problem statement that clearly describes the problem you wish to be addressed and also state the goal of any process you undertake to tackle this issue.  

Finding solutions is the end goal of any process. Complex organizational challenges can only be solved with an appropriate solution but discovering them requires using the right problem-solving tool.

After you’ve explored a problem and discussed ideas, you need to help a team discuss and choose the right solution. Consensus tools and methods such as those below help a group explore possible solutions before then voting for the best. They’re a great way to tap into the collective intelligence of the group for great results!

Remember that the process is often iterative. Great problem solvers often roadtest a viable solution in a measured way to see what works too. While you might not get the right solution on your first try, the methods below help teams land on the most likely to succeed solution while also holding space for improvement.

Every effective problem solving process begins with an agenda . A well-structured workshop is one of the best methods for successfully guiding a group from exploring a problem to implementing a solution.

In SessionLab, it’s easy to go from an idea to a complete agenda . Start by dragging and dropping your core problem solving activities into place . Add timings, breaks and necessary materials before sharing your agenda with your colleagues.

The resulting agenda will be your guide to an effective and productive problem solving session that will also help you stay organized on the day!

new problem solving business ideas

Tips for more effective problem solving

Problem-solving activities are only one part of the puzzle. While a great method can help unlock your team’s ability to solve problems, without a thoughtful approach and strong facilitation the solutions may not be fit for purpose.

Let’s take a look at some problem-solving tips you can apply to any process to help it be a success!

Clearly define the problem

Jumping straight to solutions can be tempting, though without first clearly articulating a problem, the solution might not be the right one. Many of the problem-solving activities below include sections where the problem is explored and clearly defined before moving on.

This is a vital part of the problem-solving process and taking the time to fully define an issue can save time and effort later. A clear definition helps identify irrelevant information and it also ensures that your team sets off on the right track.

Don’t jump to conclusions

It’s easy for groups to exhibit cognitive bias or have preconceived ideas about both problems and potential solutions. Be sure to back up any problem statements or potential solutions with facts, research, and adequate forethought.

The best techniques ask participants to be methodical and challenge preconceived notions. Make sure you give the group enough time and space to collect relevant information and consider the problem in a new way. By approaching the process with a clear, rational mindset, you’ll often find that better solutions are more forthcoming.  

Try different approaches  

Problems come in all shapes and sizes and so too should the methods you use to solve them. If you find that one approach isn’t yielding results and your team isn’t finding different solutions, try mixing it up. You’ll be surprised at how using a new creative activity can unblock your team and generate great solutions.

Don’t take it personally 

Depending on the nature of your team or organizational problems, it’s easy for conversations to get heated. While it’s good for participants to be engaged in the discussions, ensure that emotions don’t run too high and that blame isn’t thrown around while finding solutions.

You’re all in it together, and even if your team or area is seeing problems, that isn’t necessarily a disparagement of you personally. Using facilitation skills to manage group dynamics is one effective method of helping conversations be more constructive.

Get the right people in the room

Your problem-solving method is often only as effective as the group using it. Getting the right people on the job and managing the number of people present is important too!

If the group is too small, you may not get enough different perspectives to effectively solve a problem. If the group is too large, you can go round and round during the ideation stages.

Creating the right group makeup is also important in ensuring you have the necessary expertise and skillset to both identify and follow up on potential solutions. Carefully consider who to include at each stage to help ensure your problem-solving method is followed and positioned for success.

Document everything

The best solutions can take refinement, iteration, and reflection to come out. Get into a habit of documenting your process in order to keep all the learnings from the session and to allow ideas to mature and develop. Many of the methods below involve the creation of documents or shared resources. Be sure to keep and share these so everyone can benefit from the work done!

Bring a facilitator 

Facilitation is all about making group processes easier. With a subject as potentially emotive and important as problem-solving, having an impartial third party in the form of a facilitator can make all the difference in finding great solutions and keeping the process moving. Consider bringing a facilitator to your problem-solving session to get better results and generate meaningful solutions!

Develop your problem-solving skills

It takes time and practice to be an effective problem solver. While some roles or participants might more naturally gravitate towards problem-solving, it can take development and planning to help everyone create better solutions.

You might develop a training program, run a problem-solving workshop or simply ask your team to practice using the techniques below. Check out our post on problem-solving skills to see how you and your group can develop the right mental process and be more resilient to issues too!

Design a great agenda

Workshops are a great format for solving problems. With the right approach, you can focus a group and help them find the solutions to their own problems. But designing a process can be time-consuming and finding the right activities can be difficult.

Check out our workshop planning guide to level-up your agenda design and start running more effective workshops. Need inspiration? Check out templates designed by expert facilitators to help you kickstart your process!

In this section, we’ll look at in-depth problem-solving methods that provide a complete end-to-end process for developing effective solutions. These will help guide your team from the discovery and definition of a problem through to delivering the right solution.

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing method or problem-solving model, these processes are a great place to start. They’ll ask your team to challenge preconceived ideas and adopt a mindset for solving problems more effectively.

  • Six Thinking Hats
  • Lightning Decision Jam
  • Problem Definition Process
  • Discovery & Action Dialogue
Design Sprint 2.0
  • Open Space Technology

1. Six Thinking Hats

Individual approaches to solving a problem can be very different based on what team or role an individual holds. It can be easy for existing biases or perspectives to find their way into the mix, or for internal politics to direct a conversation.

Six Thinking Hats is a classic method for identifying the problems that need to be solved and enables your team to consider them from different angles, whether that is by focusing on facts and data, creative solutions, or by considering why a particular solution might not work.

Like all problem-solving frameworks, Six Thinking Hats is effective at helping teams remove roadblocks from a conversation or discussion and come to terms with all the aspects necessary to solve complex problems.

2. Lightning Decision Jam

Featured courtesy of Jonathan Courtney of AJ&Smart Berlin, Lightning Decision Jam is one of those strategies that should be in every facilitation toolbox. Exploring problems and finding solutions is often creative in nature, though as with any creative process, there is the potential to lose focus and get lost.

Unstructured discussions might get you there in the end, but it’s much more effective to use a method that creates a clear process and team focus.

In Lightning Decision Jam, participants are invited to begin by writing challenges, concerns, or mistakes on post-its without discussing them before then being invited by the moderator to present them to the group.

From there, the team vote on which problems to solve and are guided through steps that will allow them to reframe those problems, create solutions and then decide what to execute on. 

By deciding the problems that need to be solved as a team before moving on, this group process is great for ensuring the whole team is aligned and can take ownership over the next stages. 

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow

3. Problem Definition Process

While problems can be complex, the problem-solving methods you use to identify and solve those problems can often be simple in design. 

By taking the time to truly identify and define a problem before asking the group to reframe the challenge as an opportunity, this method is a great way to enable change.

Begin by identifying a focus question and exploring the ways in which it manifests before splitting into five teams who will each consider the problem using a different method: escape, reversal, exaggeration, distortion or wishful. Teams develop a problem objective and create ideas in line with their method before then feeding them back to the group.

This method is great for enabling in-depth discussions while also creating space for finding creative solutions too!

Problem Definition   #problem solving   #idea generation   #creativity   #online   #remote-friendly   A problem solving technique to define a problem, challenge or opportunity and to generate ideas.

4. The 5 Whys 

Sometimes, a group needs to go further with their strategies and analyze the root cause at the heart of organizational issues. An RCA or root cause analysis is the process of identifying what is at the heart of business problems or recurring challenges. 

The 5 Whys is a simple and effective method of helping a group go find the root cause of any problem or challenge and conduct analysis that will deliver results. 

By beginning with the creation of a problem statement and going through five stages to refine it, The 5 Whys provides everything you need to truly discover the cause of an issue.

The 5 Whys   #hyperisland   #innovation   This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. As the title suggests, the group defines a problems, then asks the question “why” five times, often using the resulting explanation as a starting point for creative problem solving.

5. World Cafe

World Cafe is a simple but powerful facilitation technique to help bigger groups to focus their energy and attention on solving complex problems.

World Cafe enables this approach by creating a relaxed atmosphere where participants are able to self-organize and explore topics relevant and important to them which are themed around a central problem-solving purpose. Create the right atmosphere by modeling your space after a cafe and after guiding the group through the method, let them take the lead!

Making problem-solving a part of your organization’s culture in the long term can be a difficult undertaking. More approachable formats like World Cafe can be especially effective in bringing people unfamiliar with workshops into the fold. 

World Cafe   #hyperisland   #innovation   #issue analysis   World Café is a simple yet powerful method, originated by Juanita Brown, for enabling meaningful conversations driven completely by participants and the topics that are relevant and important to them. Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines. Participants then self-organize and explore a set of relevant topics or questions for conversation.

6. Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD)

One of the best approaches is to create a safe space for a group to share and discover practices and behaviors that can help them find their own solutions.

With DAD, you can help a group choose which problems they wish to solve and which approaches they will take to do so. It’s great at helping remove resistance to change and can help get buy-in at every level too!

This process of enabling frontline ownership is great in ensuring follow-through and is one of the methods you will want in your toolbox as a facilitator.

Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD)   #idea generation   #liberating structures   #action   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   DADs make it easy for a group or community to discover practices and behaviors that enable some individuals (without access to special resources and facing the same constraints) to find better solutions than their peers to common problems. These are called positive deviant (PD) behaviors and practices. DADs make it possible for people in the group, unit, or community to discover by themselves these PD practices. DADs also create favorable conditions for stimulating participants’ creativity in spaces where they can feel safe to invent new and more effective practices. Resistance to change evaporates as participants are unleashed to choose freely which practices they will adopt or try and which problems they will tackle. DADs make it possible to achieve frontline ownership of solutions.

7. Design Sprint 2.0

Want to see how a team can solve big problems and move forward with prototyping and testing solutions in a few days? The Design Sprint 2.0 template from Jake Knapp, author of Sprint, is a complete agenda for a with proven results.

Developing the right agenda can involve difficult but necessary planning. Ensuring all the correct steps are followed can also be stressful or time-consuming depending on your level of experience.

Use this complete 4-day workshop template if you are finding there is no obvious solution to your challenge and want to focus your team around a specific problem that might require a shortcut to launching a minimum viable product or waiting for the organization-wide implementation of a solution.

8. Open space technology

Open space technology- developed by Harrison Owen – creates a space where large groups are invited to take ownership of their problem solving and lead individual sessions. Open space technology is a great format when you have a great deal of expertise and insight in the room and want to allow for different takes and approaches on a particular theme or problem you need to be solved.

Start by bringing your participants together to align around a central theme and focus their efforts. Explain the ground rules to help guide the problem-solving process and then invite members to identify any issue connecting to the central theme that they are interested in and are prepared to take responsibility for.

Once participants have decided on their approach to the core theme, they write their issue on a piece of paper, announce it to the group, pick a session time and place, and post the paper on the wall. As the wall fills up with sessions, the group is then invited to join the sessions that interest them the most and which they can contribute to, then you’re ready to begin!

Everyone joins the problem-solving group they’ve signed up to, record the discussion and if appropriate, findings can then be shared with the rest of the group afterward.

Open Space Technology   #action plan   #idea generation   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #large group   #online   #remote-friendly   Open Space is a methodology for large groups to create their agenda discerning important topics for discussion, suitable for conferences, community gatherings and whole system facilitation

Techniques to identify and analyze problems

Using a problem-solving method to help a team identify and analyze a problem can be a quick and effective addition to any workshop or meeting.

While further actions are always necessary, you can generate momentum and alignment easily, and these activities are a great place to get started.

We’ve put together this list of techniques to help you and your team with problem identification, analysis, and discussion that sets the foundation for developing effective solutions.

Let’s take a look!

  • The Creativity Dice
  • Fishbone Analysis
  • Problem Tree
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Agreement-Certainty Matrix
  • The Journalistic Six
  • LEGO Challenge
  • What, So What, Now What?
  • Journalists

Individual and group perspectives are incredibly important, but what happens if people are set in their minds and need a change of perspective in order to approach a problem more effectively?

Flip It is a method we love because it is both simple to understand and run, and allows groups to understand how their perspectives and biases are formed. 

Participants in Flip It are first invited to consider concerns, issues, or problems from a perspective of fear and write them on a flip chart. Then, the group is asked to consider those same issues from a perspective of hope and flip their understanding.  

No problem and solution is free from existing bias and by changing perspectives with Flip It, you can then develop a problem solving model quickly and effectively.

Flip It!   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   Often, a change in a problem or situation comes simply from a change in our perspectives. Flip It! is a quick game designed to show players that perspectives are made, not born.

10. The Creativity Dice

One of the most useful problem solving skills you can teach your team is of approaching challenges with creativity, flexibility, and openness. Games like The Creativity Dice allow teams to overcome the potential hurdle of too much linear thinking and approach the process with a sense of fun and speed. 

In The Creativity Dice, participants are organized around a topic and roll a dice to determine what they will work on for a period of 3 minutes at a time. They might roll a 3 and work on investigating factual information on the chosen topic. They might roll a 1 and work on identifying the specific goals, standards, or criteria for the session.

Encouraging rapid work and iteration while asking participants to be flexible are great skills to cultivate. Having a stage for idea incubation in this game is also important. Moments of pause can help ensure the ideas that are put forward are the most suitable. 

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

11. Fishbone Analysis

Organizational or team challenges are rarely simple, and it’s important to remember that one problem can be an indication of something that goes deeper and may require further consideration to be solved.

Fishbone Analysis helps groups to dig deeper and understand the origins of a problem. It’s a great example of a root cause analysis method that is simple for everyone on a team to get their head around. 

Participants in this activity are asked to annotate a diagram of a fish, first adding the problem or issue to be worked on at the head of a fish before then brainstorming the root causes of the problem and adding them as bones on the fish. 

Using abstractions such as a diagram of a fish can really help a team break out of their regular thinking and develop a creative approach.

Fishbone Analysis   #problem solving   ##root cause analysis   #decision making   #online facilitation   A process to help identify and understand the origins of problems, issues or observations.

12. Problem Tree 

Encouraging visual thinking can be an essential part of many strategies. By simply reframing and clarifying problems, a group can move towards developing a problem solving model that works for them. 

In Problem Tree, groups are asked to first brainstorm a list of problems – these can be design problems, team problems or larger business problems – and then organize them into a hierarchy. The hierarchy could be from most important to least important or abstract to practical, though the key thing with problem solving games that involve this aspect is that your group has some way of managing and sorting all the issues that are raised.

Once you have a list of problems that need to be solved and have organized them accordingly, you’re then well-positioned for the next problem solving steps.

Problem tree   #define intentions   #create   #design   #issue analysis   A problem tree is a tool to clarify the hierarchy of problems addressed by the team within a design project; it represents high level problems or related sublevel problems.

13. SWOT Analysis

Chances are you’ve heard of the SWOT Analysis before. This problem-solving method focuses on identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is a tried and tested method for both individuals and teams.

Start by creating a desired end state or outcome and bare this in mind – any process solving model is made more effective by knowing what you are moving towards. Create a quadrant made up of the four categories of a SWOT analysis and ask participants to generate ideas based on each of those quadrants.

Once you have those ideas assembled in their quadrants, cluster them together based on their affinity with other ideas. These clusters are then used to facilitate group conversations and move things forward. 

SWOT analysis   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   #meeting facilitation   The SWOT Analysis is a long-standing technique of looking at what we have, with respect to the desired end state, as well as what we could improve on. It gives us an opportunity to gauge approaching opportunities and dangers, and assess the seriousness of the conditions that affect our future. When we understand those conditions, we can influence what comes next.

14. Agreement-Certainty Matrix

Not every problem-solving approach is right for every challenge, and deciding on the right method for the challenge at hand is a key part of being an effective team.

The Agreement Certainty matrix helps teams align on the nature of the challenges facing them. By sorting problems from simple to chaotic, your team can understand what methods are suitable for each problem and what they can do to ensure effective results. 

If you are already using Liberating Structures techniques as part of your problem-solving strategy, the Agreement-Certainty Matrix can be an invaluable addition to your process. We’ve found it particularly if you are having issues with recurring problems in your organization and want to go deeper in understanding the root cause. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Organizing and charting a team’s progress can be important in ensuring its success. SQUID (Sequential Question and Insight Diagram) is a great model that allows a team to effectively switch between giving questions and answers and develop the skills they need to stay on track throughout the process. 

Begin with two different colored sticky notes – one for questions and one for answers – and with your central topic (the head of the squid) on the board. Ask the group to first come up with a series of questions connected to their best guess of how to approach the topic. Ask the group to come up with answers to those questions, fix them to the board and connect them with a line. After some discussion, go back to question mode by responding to the generated answers or other points on the board.

It’s rewarding to see a diagram grow throughout the exercise, and a completed SQUID can provide a visual resource for future effort and as an example for other teams.

SQUID   #gamestorming   #project planning   #issue analysis   #problem solving   When exploring an information space, it’s important for a group to know where they are at any given time. By using SQUID, a group charts out the territory as they go and can navigate accordingly. SQUID stands for Sequential Question and Insight Diagram.

16. Speed Boat

To continue with our nautical theme, Speed Boat is a short and sweet activity that can help a team quickly identify what employees, clients or service users might have a problem with and analyze what might be standing in the way of achieving a solution.

Methods that allow for a group to make observations, have insights and obtain those eureka moments quickly are invaluable when trying to solve complex problems.

In Speed Boat, the approach is to first consider what anchors and challenges might be holding an organization (or boat) back. Bonus points if you are able to identify any sharks in the water and develop ideas that can also deal with competitors!   

Speed Boat   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   Speedboat is a short and sweet way to identify what your employees or clients don’t like about your product/service or what’s standing in the way of a desired goal.

17. The Journalistic Six

Some of the most effective ways of solving problems is by encouraging teams to be more inclusive and diverse in their thinking.

Based on the six key questions journalism students are taught to answer in articles and news stories, The Journalistic Six helps create teams to see the whole picture. By using who, what, when, where, why, and how to facilitate the conversation and encourage creative thinking, your team can make sure that the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the are covered exhaustively and thoughtfully. Reporter’s notebook and dictaphone optional.

The Journalistic Six – Who What When Where Why How   #idea generation   #issue analysis   #problem solving   #online   #creative thinking   #remote-friendly   A questioning method for generating, explaining, investigating ideas.

18. LEGO Challenge

Now for an activity that is a little out of the (toy) box. LEGO Serious Play is a facilitation methodology that can be used to improve creative thinking and problem-solving skills. 

The LEGO Challenge includes giving each member of the team an assignment that is hidden from the rest of the group while they create a structure without speaking.

What the LEGO challenge brings to the table is a fun working example of working with stakeholders who might not be on the same page to solve problems. Also, it’s LEGO! Who doesn’t love LEGO! 

LEGO Challenge   #hyperisland   #team   A team-building activity in which groups must work together to build a structure out of LEGO, but each individual has a secret “assignment” which makes the collaborative process more challenging. It emphasizes group communication, leadership dynamics, conflict, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy.

19. What, So What, Now What?

If not carefully managed, the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the problem-solving process can actually create more problems and misunderstandings.

The What, So What, Now What? problem-solving activity is designed to help collect insights and move forward while also eliminating the possibility of disagreement when it comes to identifying, clarifying, and analyzing organizational or work problems. 

Facilitation is all about bringing groups together so that might work on a shared goal and the best problem-solving strategies ensure that teams are aligned in purpose, if not initially in opinion or insight.

Throughout the three steps of this game, you give everyone on a team to reflect on a problem by asking what happened, why it is important, and what actions should then be taken. 

This can be a great activity for bringing our individual perceptions about a problem or challenge and contextualizing it in a larger group setting. This is one of the most important problem-solving skills you can bring to your organization.

W³ – What, So What, Now What?   #issue analysis   #innovation   #liberating structures   You can help groups reflect on a shared experience in a way that builds understanding and spurs coordinated action while avoiding unproductive conflict. It is possible for every voice to be heard while simultaneously sifting for insights and shaping new direction. Progressing in stages makes this practical—from collecting facts about What Happened to making sense of these facts with So What and finally to what actions logically follow with Now What . The shared progression eliminates most of the misunderstandings that otherwise fuel disagreements about what to do. Voila!

20. Journalists  

Problem analysis can be one of the most important and decisive stages of all problem-solving tools. Sometimes, a team can become bogged down in the details and are unable to move forward.

Journalists is an activity that can avoid a group from getting stuck in the problem identification or problem analysis stages of the process.

In Journalists, the group is invited to draft the front page of a fictional newspaper and figure out what stories deserve to be on the cover and what headlines those stories will have. By reframing how your problems and challenges are approached, you can help a team move productively through the process and be better prepared for the steps to follow.

Journalists   #vision   #big picture   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   This is an exercise to use when the group gets stuck in details and struggles to see the big picture. Also good for defining a vision.

Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions 

The success of any problem-solving process can be measured by the solutions it produces. After you’ve defined the issue, explored existing ideas, and ideated, it’s time to narrow down to the correct solution.

Use these problem-solving techniques when you want to help your team find consensus, compare possible solutions, and move towards taking action on a particular problem.

  • Improved Solutions
  • Four-Step Sketch
  • 15% Solutions
  • How-Now-Wow matrix
  • Impact Effort Matrix

21. Mindspin  

Brainstorming is part of the bread and butter of the problem-solving process and all problem-solving strategies benefit from getting ideas out and challenging a team to generate solutions quickly. 

With Mindspin, participants are encouraged not only to generate ideas but to do so under time constraints and by slamming down cards and passing them on. By doing multiple rounds, your team can begin with a free generation of possible solutions before moving on to developing those solutions and encouraging further ideation. 

This is one of our favorite problem-solving activities and can be great for keeping the energy up throughout the workshop. Remember the importance of helping people become engaged in the process – energizing problem-solving techniques like Mindspin can help ensure your team stays engaged and happy, even when the problems they’re coming together to solve are complex. 

MindSpin   #teampedia   #idea generation   #problem solving   #action   A fast and loud method to enhance brainstorming within a team. Since this activity has more than round ideas that are repetitive can be ruled out leaving more creative and innovative answers to the challenge.

22. Improved Solutions

After a team has successfully identified a problem and come up with a few solutions, it can be tempting to call the work of the problem-solving process complete. That said, the first solution is not necessarily the best, and by including a further review and reflection activity into your problem-solving model, you can ensure your group reaches the best possible result. 

One of a number of problem-solving games from Thiagi Group, Improved Solutions helps you go the extra mile and develop suggested solutions with close consideration and peer review. By supporting the discussion of several problems at once and by shifting team roles throughout, this problem-solving technique is a dynamic way of finding the best solution. 

Improved Solutions   #creativity   #thiagi   #problem solving   #action   #team   You can improve any solution by objectively reviewing its strengths and weaknesses and making suitable adjustments. In this creativity framegame, you improve the solutions to several problems. To maintain objective detachment, you deal with a different problem during each of six rounds and assume different roles (problem owner, consultant, basher, booster, enhancer, and evaluator) during each round. At the conclusion of the activity, each player ends up with two solutions to her problem.

23. Four Step Sketch

Creative thinking and visual ideation does not need to be confined to the opening stages of your problem-solving strategies. Exercises that include sketching and prototyping on paper can be effective at the solution finding and development stage of the process, and can be great for keeping a team engaged. 

By going from simple notes to a crazy 8s round that involves rapidly sketching 8 variations on their ideas before then producing a final solution sketch, the group is able to iterate quickly and visually. Problem-solving techniques like Four-Step Sketch are great if you have a group of different thinkers and want to change things up from a more textual or discussion-based approach.

Four-Step Sketch   #design sprint   #innovation   #idea generation   #remote-friendly   The four-step sketch is an exercise that helps people to create well-formed concepts through a structured process that includes: Review key information Start design work on paper,  Consider multiple variations , Create a detailed solution . This exercise is preceded by a set of other activities allowing the group to clarify the challenge they want to solve. See how the Four Step Sketch exercise fits into a Design Sprint

24. 15% Solutions

Some problems are simpler than others and with the right problem-solving activities, you can empower people to take immediate actions that can help create organizational change. 

Part of the liberating structures toolkit, 15% solutions is a problem-solving technique that focuses on finding and implementing solutions quickly. A process of iterating and making small changes quickly can help generate momentum and an appetite for solving complex problems.

Problem-solving strategies can live and die on whether people are onboard. Getting some quick wins is a great way of getting people behind the process.   

It can be extremely empowering for a team to realize that problem-solving techniques can be deployed quickly and easily and delineate between things they can positively impact and those things they cannot change. 

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

25. How-Now-Wow Matrix

The problem-solving process is often creative, as complex problems usually require a change of thinking and creative response in order to find the best solutions. While it’s common for the first stages to encourage creative thinking, groups can often gravitate to familiar solutions when it comes to the end of the process. 

When selecting solutions, you don’t want to lose your creative energy! The How-Now-Wow Matrix from Gamestorming is a great problem-solving activity that enables a group to stay creative and think out of the box when it comes to selecting the right solution for a given problem.

Problem-solving techniques that encourage creative thinking and the ideation and selection of new solutions can be the most effective in organisational change. Give the How-Now-Wow Matrix a go, and not just for how pleasant it is to say out loud. 

How-Now-Wow Matrix   #gamestorming   #idea generation   #remote-friendly   When people want to develop new ideas, they most often think out of the box in the brainstorming or divergent phase. However, when it comes to convergence, people often end up picking ideas that are most familiar to them. This is called a ‘creative paradox’ or a ‘creadox’. The How-Now-Wow matrix is an idea selection tool that breaks the creadox by forcing people to weigh each idea on 2 parameters.

26. Impact and Effort Matrix

All problem-solving techniques hope to not only find solutions to a given problem or challenge but to find the best solution. When it comes to finding a solution, groups are invited to put on their decision-making hats and really think about how a proposed idea would work in practice. 

The Impact and Effort Matrix is one of the problem-solving techniques that fall into this camp, empowering participants to first generate ideas and then categorize them into a 2×2 matrix based on impact and effort.

Activities that invite critical thinking while remaining simple are invaluable. Use the Impact and Effort Matrix to move from ideation and towards evaluating potential solutions before then committing to them. 

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

27. Dotmocracy

If you’ve followed each of the problem-solving steps with your group successfully, you should move towards the end of your process with heaps of possible solutions developed with a specific problem in mind. But how do you help a group go from ideation to putting a solution into action? 

Dotmocracy – or Dot Voting -is a tried and tested method of helping a team in the problem-solving process make decisions and put actions in place with a degree of oversight and consensus. 

One of the problem-solving techniques that should be in every facilitator’s toolbox, Dot Voting is fast and effective and can help identify the most popular and best solutions and help bring a group to a decision effectively. 

Dotmocracy   #action   #decision making   #group prioritization   #hyperisland   #remote-friendly   Dotmocracy is a simple method for group prioritization or decision-making. It is not an activity on its own, but a method to use in processes where prioritization or decision-making is the aim. The method supports a group to quickly see which options are most popular or relevant. The options or ideas are written on post-its and stuck up on a wall for the whole group to see. Each person votes for the options they think are the strongest, and that information is used to inform a decision.

All facilitators know that warm-ups and icebreakers are useful for any workshop or group process. Problem-solving workshops are no different.

Use these problem-solving techniques to warm up a group and prepare them for the rest of the process. Activating your group by tapping into some of the top problem-solving skills can be one of the best ways to see great outcomes from your session.

  • Check-in/Check-out
  • Doodling Together
  • Show and Tell
  • Constellations
  • Draw a Tree

28. Check-in / Check-out

Solid processes are planned from beginning to end, and the best facilitators know that setting the tone and establishing a safe, open environment can be integral to a successful problem-solving process.

Check-in / Check-out is a great way to begin and/or bookend a problem-solving workshop. Checking in to a session emphasizes that everyone will be seen, heard, and expected to contribute. 

If you are running a series of meetings, setting a consistent pattern of checking in and checking out can really help your team get into a groove. We recommend this opening-closing activity for small to medium-sized groups though it can work with large groups if they’re disciplined!

Check-in / Check-out   #team   #opening   #closing   #hyperisland   #remote-friendly   Either checking-in or checking-out is a simple way for a team to open or close a process, symbolically and in a collaborative way. Checking-in/out invites each member in a group to be present, seen and heard, and to express a reflection or a feeling. Checking-in emphasizes presence, focus and group commitment; checking-out emphasizes reflection and symbolic closure.

29. Doodling Together  

Thinking creatively and not being afraid to make suggestions are important problem-solving skills for any group or team, and warming up by encouraging these behaviors is a great way to start. 

Doodling Together is one of our favorite creative ice breaker games – it’s quick, effective, and fun and can make all following problem-solving steps easier by encouraging a group to collaborate visually. By passing cards and adding additional items as they go, the workshop group gets into a groove of co-creation and idea development that is crucial to finding solutions to problems. 

Doodling Together   #collaboration   #creativity   #teamwork   #fun   #team   #visual methods   #energiser   #icebreaker   #remote-friendly   Create wild, weird and often funny postcards together & establish a group’s creative confidence.

30. Show and Tell

You might remember some version of Show and Tell from being a kid in school and it’s a great problem-solving activity to kick off a session.

Asking participants to prepare a little something before a workshop by bringing an object for show and tell can help them warm up before the session has even begun! Games that include a physical object can also help encourage early engagement before moving onto more big-picture thinking.

By asking your participants to tell stories about why they chose to bring a particular item to the group, you can help teams see things from new perspectives and see both differences and similarities in the way they approach a topic. Great groundwork for approaching a problem-solving process as a team! 

Show and Tell   #gamestorming   #action   #opening   #meeting facilitation   Show and Tell taps into the power of metaphors to reveal players’ underlying assumptions and associations around a topic The aim of the game is to get a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives on anything—a new project, an organizational restructuring, a shift in the company’s vision or team dynamic.

31. Constellations

Who doesn’t love stars? Constellations is a great warm-up activity for any workshop as it gets people up off their feet, energized, and ready to engage in new ways with established topics. It’s also great for showing existing beliefs, biases, and patterns that can come into play as part of your session.

Using warm-up games that help build trust and connection while also allowing for non-verbal responses can be great for easing people into the problem-solving process and encouraging engagement from everyone in the group. Constellations is great in large spaces that allow for movement and is definitely a practical exercise to allow the group to see patterns that are otherwise invisible. 

Constellations   #trust   #connection   #opening   #coaching   #patterns   #system   Individuals express their response to a statement or idea by standing closer or further from a central object. Used with teams to reveal system, hidden patterns, perspectives.

32. Draw a Tree

Problem-solving games that help raise group awareness through a central, unifying metaphor can be effective ways to warm-up a group in any problem-solving model.

Draw a Tree is a simple warm-up activity you can use in any group and which can provide a quick jolt of energy. Start by asking your participants to draw a tree in just 45 seconds – they can choose whether it will be abstract or realistic. 

Once the timer is up, ask the group how many people included the roots of the tree and use this as a means to discuss how we can ignore important parts of any system simply because they are not visible.

All problem-solving strategies are made more effective by thinking of problems critically and by exposing things that may not normally come to light. Warm-up games like Draw a Tree are great in that they quickly demonstrate some key problem-solving skills in an accessible and effective way.

Draw a Tree   #thiagi   #opening   #perspectives   #remote-friendly   With this game you can raise awarness about being more mindful, and aware of the environment we live in.

Each step of the problem-solving workshop benefits from an intelligent deployment of activities, games, and techniques. Bringing your session to an effective close helps ensure that solutions are followed through on and that you also celebrate what has been achieved.

Here are some problem-solving activities you can use to effectively close a workshop or meeting and ensure the great work you’ve done can continue afterward.

  • One Breath Feedback
  • Who What When Matrix
  • Response Cards

How do I conclude a problem-solving process?

All good things must come to an end. With the bulk of the work done, it can be tempting to conclude your workshop swiftly and without a moment to debrief and align. This can be problematic in that it doesn’t allow your team to fully process the results or reflect on the process.

At the end of an effective session, your team will have gone through a process that, while productive, can be exhausting. It’s important to give your group a moment to take a breath, ensure that they are clear on future actions, and provide short feedback before leaving the space. 

The primary purpose of any problem-solving method is to generate solutions and then implement them. Be sure to take the opportunity to ensure everyone is aligned and ready to effectively implement the solutions you produced in the workshop.

Remember that every process can be improved and by giving a short moment to collect feedback in the session, you can further refine your problem-solving methods and see further success in the future too.

33. One Breath Feedback

Maintaining attention and focus during the closing stages of a problem-solving workshop can be tricky and so being concise when giving feedback can be important. It’s easy to incur “death by feedback” should some team members go on for too long sharing their perspectives in a quick feedback round. 

One Breath Feedback is a great closing activity for workshops. You give everyone an opportunity to provide feedback on what they’ve done but only in the space of a single breath. This keeps feedback short and to the point and means that everyone is encouraged to provide the most important piece of feedback to them. 

One breath feedback   #closing   #feedback   #action   This is a feedback round in just one breath that excels in maintaining attention: each participants is able to speak during just one breath … for most people that’s around 20 to 25 seconds … unless of course you’ve been a deep sea diver in which case you’ll be able to do it for longer.

34. Who What When Matrix 

Matrices feature as part of many effective problem-solving strategies and with good reason. They are easily recognizable, simple to use, and generate results.

The Who What When Matrix is a great tool to use when closing your problem-solving session by attributing a who, what and when to the actions and solutions you have decided upon. The resulting matrix is a simple, easy-to-follow way of ensuring your team can move forward. 

Great solutions can’t be enacted without action and ownership. Your problem-solving process should include a stage for allocating tasks to individuals or teams and creating a realistic timeframe for those solutions to be implemented or checked out. Use this method to keep the solution implementation process clear and simple for all involved. 

Who/What/When Matrix   #gamestorming   #action   #project planning   With Who/What/When matrix, you can connect people with clear actions they have defined and have committed to.

35. Response cards

Group discussion can comprise the bulk of most problem-solving activities and by the end of the process, you might find that your team is talked out! 

Providing a means for your team to give feedback with short written notes can ensure everyone is head and can contribute without the need to stand up and talk. Depending on the needs of the group, giving an alternative can help ensure everyone can contribute to your problem-solving model in the way that makes the most sense for them.

Response Cards is a great way to close a workshop if you are looking for a gentle warm-down and want to get some swift discussion around some of the feedback that is raised. 

Response Cards   #debriefing   #closing   #structured sharing   #questions and answers   #thiagi   #action   It can be hard to involve everyone during a closing of a session. Some might stay in the background or get unheard because of louder participants. However, with the use of Response Cards, everyone will be involved in providing feedback or clarify questions at the end of a session.

Save time and effort discovering the right solutions

A structured problem solving process is a surefire way of solving tough problems, discovering creative solutions and driving organizational change. But how can you design for successful outcomes?

With SessionLab, it’s easy to design engaging workshops that deliver results. Drag, drop and reorder blocks  to build your agenda. When you make changes or update your agenda, your session  timing   adjusts automatically , saving you time on manual adjustments.

Collaborating with stakeholders or clients? Share your agenda with a single click and collaborate in real-time. No more sending documents back and forth over email.

Explore  how to use SessionLab  to design effective problem solving workshops or  watch this five minute video  to see the planner in action!

new problem solving business ideas

Over to you

The problem-solving process can often be as complicated and multifaceted as the problems they are set-up to solve. With the right problem-solving techniques and a mix of creative exercises designed to guide discussion and generate purposeful ideas, we hope we’ve given you the tools to find the best solutions as simply and easily as possible.

Is there a problem-solving technique that you are missing here? Do you have a favorite activity or method you use when facilitating? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you! 

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thank you very much for these excellent techniques

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Certainly wonderful article, very detailed. Shared!

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Your list of techniques for problem solving can be helpfully extended by adding TRIZ to the list of techniques. TRIZ has 40 problem solving techniques derived from methods inventros and patent holders used to get new patents. About 10-12 are general approaches. many organization sponsor classes in TRIZ that are used to solve business problems or general organiztational problems. You can take a look at TRIZ and dwonload a free internet booklet to see if you feel it shound be included per your selection process.

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cycle of workshop planning steps

Going from a mere idea to a workshop that delivers results for your clients can feel like a daunting task. In this piece, we will shine a light on all the work behind the scenes and help you learn how to plan a workshop from start to finish. On a good day, facilitation can feel like effortless magic, but that is mostly the result of backstage work, foresight, and a lot of careful planning. Read on to learn a step-by-step approach to breaking the process of planning a workshop into small, manageable chunks.  The flow starts with the first meeting with a client to define the purposes of a workshop.…

new problem solving business ideas

How does learning work? A clever 9-year-old once told me: “I know I am learning something new when I am surprised.” The science of adult learning tells us that, in order to learn new skills (which, unsurprisingly, is harder for adults to do than kids) grown-ups need to first get into a specific headspace.  In a business, this approach is often employed in a training session where employees learn new skills or work on professional development. But how do you ensure your training is effective? In this guide, we'll explore how to create an effective training session plan and run engaging training sessions. As team leader, project manager, or consultant,…

new problem solving business ideas

Effective online tools are a necessity for smooth and engaging virtual workshops and meetings. But how do you choose the right ones? Do you sometimes feel that the good old pen and paper or MS Office toolkit and email leaves you struggling to stay on top of managing and delivering your workshop? Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools to make your life easier when you need to facilitate a meeting and lead workshops. In this post, we’ll share our favorite online tools you can use to make your job as a facilitator easier. In fact, there are plenty of free online workshop tools and meeting facilitation software you can…

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More From Forbes

7 High-Profit Business Ideas Worth Exploring

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When it comes to building a profitable business, there's no shortage of innovative ideas. The key is to identify opportunities that align with market demand, leverage emerging trends, and match your expertise or interest.

Revenue and profit are often used interchangeably, but understanding their distinction is crucial for business success . Revenue, or sales, is the total amount of money generated from selling products or services. Profit, however, is what remains after subtracting all expenses (including production costs, salaries, taxes, and overhead) from that revenue.

Making a lot of sales might seem like a win, but without managing costs, the business could still be unprofitable. To maximize profitability, focus on the three profit drivers: increasing sales volume, optimizing pricing strategies, and reducing costs through efficient operations. By carefully managing these drivers, businesses can ensure that strong sales translate into higher profits .

If you’re considering venturing into entrepreneurship or expanding your business, here are seven high-profit business ideas to explore:

1. subscription box services.

Subscription boxes are a booming industry, offering curated experiences right to customers' doorsteps. From gourmet snacks and beauty products to niche hobbies like books or gardening, subscription services meet the growing demand for personalization. The recurring revenue model is attractive, especially with a loyal customer base.

The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested For Months

North carolina legislators want to ban masks, even for health reasons, behind the growth of san diego wave fc in their third nwsl season, 2. digital marketing agency.

With businesses increasingly shifting online, digital marketing agencies are in high demand. Specializing in SEO, content marketing, social media management, and PPC advertising can generate substantial profits. Small to mid-sized businesses often outsource these services to experts, providing a steady client base.

3. Online Education and Coaching

As remote learning continues to grow, creating courses or coaching programs can be a lucrative business. Whether it’s professional skills, language learning, or fitness, online education can reach global audiences. Develop courses that provide tangible value and offer certification for enhanced credibility.

4. eCommerce Store

The eCommerce sector is flourishing, especially with specialized or handcrafted products. Launching your online store using platforms like Shopify or Etsy provides a scalable way to reach customers. Niche markets like eco-friendly products, pet supplies, or tech gadgets can prove highly profitable.

5. Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS businesses have low overhead costs and high scalability. If you have technical expertise, consider developing software solutions for business needs like project management, accounting, or customer support. Subscriptions offer recurring revenue and companies are willing to pay for productivity-enhancing tools.

6. Real Estate Investment and Management

Real estate remains a timeless wealth-building tool. While buying properties and flipping them can yield quick returns, managing rental properties can provide a consistent cash flow. Commercial real estate also offers opportunities, but it’s essential to have a sound investment strategy.

7. Health and Wellness Services

Health and wellness have gained significant traction, creating opportunities for nutrition consulting, fitness coaching, or holistic therapies. The pursuit of healthier lifestyles is universal, and online platforms enable wider reach. Specializing in a particular niche can further boost profitability.

The bottom line is that a high-profit business needs more than just a great idea; thorough market research, strategic planning, and adaptability to market trends are crucial. Choose an idea that aligns with your skills or passion while staying mindful of market demand. With dedication and the right strategy, you can build a thriving enterprise that offers substantial returns.

Melissa Houston, CPA is the author of Cash Confident: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating a Profitable Business and the founder of She Means Profit . As a Business Strategist for small business owners, Melissa helps women making mid-career shifts, to launch their dream businesses, and I also guide established business owners to grow their businesses to more profitably.

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to

replace any professional or expert accounting and/or tax advice whatsoever.

Melissa Houston

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  •  Employee Engagement

14 Team Building Ideas in a Budget to Strengthen Team Unity

Team building ideas can be a fun way to break away from the routine and connect with colleagues on a more personal level. Check our 14 low-budget team-building initiatives to break the ice between colleagues and improve their interaction.

Nagma Nasim

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A Gartner report reveals that 94% of executives and 88% of employees agree that a unique company culture is important for a business to be successful. Moreover, to corroborate this study, another Gartner study has revealed that 79% of organizations recognize the need for fostering a sense of belonging in the workforce as it is important or very important for their success over the next 12 to 18 months. Let's take Beefeater Gin as an example. Beefeater Gin, a company that operates in the Food and Agriculture, Consumer Goods market segments, had a challenge regarding team building ideas. 

They wanted to welcome their new graduates in a fun and engaging way to the company. They wanted the new hires to break the ice with each other, meet other employees, and learn all about the Beefeater brand. and what could be better than holding a scavenger hunt as an interactive team building idea to get everyone involved and excited? 

They created a custom-made scavenger hunt for Beefeater Gin that was the perfect icebreaker. New graduates got thrown into fun challenges that had everyone cracking up. But it wasn't just about laughs. Each challenge was designed to teach them all about the Beefeater brand, turning their current knowledge into something they'd never forget, easily letting the new joiners gel with their teammates.

Although the importance of team building in the workplace cannot be overstated, it must be accepted that the right event can foster unity and shared purpose among team members. As a result, it allows them to work more effectively together towards common goals. This blog will share with you team building ideas under budget so that you can throw your next camaraderie session without burning a hole in your pocket.

What is team building? 

Imagine a team where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas, supporting each other, and working towards a common goal. That's the crux of team building. Team building is a crucial aspect of corporate culture that fosters unity, trust, and collaboration among employees. 

It involves organizing activities and events that encourage communication, problem-solving, and mutual understanding among team members. By doing so, team building helps to break down barriers which is essential for a productive and successful work environment.

In short, team building is all about turning a group of colleagues into a high-functioning unit. Ultimately, the right team building idea in place could positively impact: 

  • Communication and collaboration skills to allow team members to collaborate more effectively. 
  • Employee engagement and morale as it fosters a sense of community and shared purpose. 
  • The problem-solving skills in a team setting encourage teammates to adopt creative approaches.  
  • Relationships with employees so that employees interact outside of their work roles and build stronger relationships and mutual understanding. 
  • The work environment where employees can feel connected and valued as part of a team. This will generate a positive mutual understanding. 

The psychological impact of team building initiatives: 

Team building initiatives have a profound effect on workplace dynamics and individual well-being. When done right, they can transform a group of people into a cohesive, high-performing team. Here’s why they matter: 

  • Sense of belonging : Team building activities foster strong connections among team members. This feeling of support, value, and understanding reduces stress and creates a positive work environment. Team building aspires to replicate the camaraderie of a sports team or the unity of a choir within the workplace. 
  • Improved communication: Team building exercises encourage open communication. These activities, whether solving puzzles together or participating in trust exercises, enhance how team members express themselves and listen to others. 
  • Empathy and understanding: Collaborative activities allow team members to see things from different perspectives. This fosters stronger bonds and better working relationships. By understanding your colleagues' viewpoints, conflicts decrease, and cooperation increases. 
  • Enhanced problem-solving skills: Team building often involves solving challenges. These exercises improve problem-solving abilities and encourage creative thinking. Additionally, facing obstacles together helps you learn to rely on each other's strengths. 
  • Increased trust: Trust is essential for effective teamwork. Activities designed to build trust, such as trust falls or blindfolded obstacle courses, can strengthen trust among team members. When trust is present, collaboration becomes smoother, and innovation flourishes. 
  • Improved mental well-being: Taking breaks for team-building activities refreshes the mind and reduces stress. This promotes overall well-being and contributes to a positive work environment. Happy teams are ultimately more productive teams. 

Let us quantify the psychological impact of team-building! 

Now that the impact of the team building events has been quantified, let us know the effective ways to set up the team-building program. 

How to set up a team-building program? 

Building a strong and collaborative team takes effort, and well-designed team-building programs can be a powerful tool to achieve that goal. Here's a breakdown of the key steps involved in setting up an effective program: 

1.  Understand your team's needs 

  • Assess team development : Before diving into activities, take a step back to understand your team's current stage. Are they a newly formed group still getting acquainted, or a seasoned team facing challenges in communication or collaboration? Identifying their developmental stage will help tailor the program to address their specific needs. 
  • Establish clear goals :  With a clear understanding of your team's needs, set specific and measurable objectives for the program.  Do you aim to improve communication skills, and problem-solving abilities, or simply strengthen team spirit?  Clearly defined goals will guide your activity selection and measure the program's success.

2.  Designing the program structure 

  • Time commitment:   Consider the time constraints of your team and the complexity of your goals. A half-day program might be suitable for introductory team building, while a multi-day retreat could be ideal for in-depth skill development. 
  • Activity selection:   Choose activities that are engaging, promote interaction, and directly address your established goals. Consider a mix of creative problem-solving exercises, collaborative games, or workshops led by industry experts. 

3.  Planning and logistics 

  • Budgeting:   Allocate a realistic budget for the program, considering venue rental, activity costs, materials, and potentially even refreshments. 
  • Venue selection:   Choose a suitable location that fosters the desired atmosphere. Consider an off-site venue for a change of scenery or leverage a meeting space within your office for smaller programs. 
  • Team formation:   Decide on how to form teams.  Will they be based on existing departments, randomly mixed, or strategically chosen to encourage interaction among less familiar colleagues? 
  • Schedule development:   Create a clear agenda outlining the program's flow, including activity timings, breaks, and dedicated time for discussions or presentations.

4.  Implementation phase 

  • Preparation:   Gather all necessary materials, equipment, and resources well in advance.  Ensure the venue is booked and any facilitators are confirmed. 
  • Program execution:   Facilitate the program according to the plan, maintaining a positive and engaging atmosphere. Be prepared to adapt the schedule slightly if needed to ensure everyone is participating and enjoying the activities. 
  • Wrap-up and takeaways:   Summarize the key learnings and discussions from the program. Encourage team members to reflect on their takeaways and how they can be applied in their daily work. 

5.  Evaluation and follow-up 

  • Feedback collection:   Gather feedback from participants through surveys or discussions. This feedback will be crucial in understanding the program's effectiveness and identifying areas for improvement. 
  • Action planning:   Based on the feedback received, develop an action plan to address any shortcomings identified. This could involve additional training sessions, team discussions, or even incorporating successful activities into regular team meetings. 

To plan the team building program, and to help it run effectively, you can integrate Empuls. It fosters strong teams by providing a space for connection and engagement among employees, a key factor in building effective units. 

Empuls also empowers HR leaders to gauge employee morale and address any issues, promoting a culture where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute to the organization's goals. Now that we have gotten accustomed to setting up the team building program, let us check 14 low-budget initiatives that you can run in your organization. 

14 low budget team-building ideas: 

 14 low budget team building ideas are as follows.

3 Creative activities 

Encourage creativity and teamwork by organizing a creative challenge where team members work together to solve a problem or complete a task using their creativity and resourcefulness. Some exciting creative challenges you can adopt are:

  • Canvas painting: Provide pre-drawn canvases, paints, and brushes for each team member to create colorful masterpieces that can be displayed together as a mural in the office, promoting collaboration and creativity. 
  • Culinary challenge: Divide the team into smaller groups, assign a food category, and challenge them to create delicious dishes using a specific ingredient or shape, promoting creativity and teamwork. 
  • SCAMPER challenge: This technique uses verbs to push existing ideas in new directions. Give the team a product or concept and ask them to Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Other Uses, Eliminate, and Rearrange it. 

2 Virtual team activities 

Engage remote team members with virtual team-building activities such as online quizzes, virtual escape rooms, or virtual team challenges to promote collaboration and teamwork across distances.

  • Company Trivia Challenge: Organize a company trivia challenge to test your team's knowledge about the company, its history, values, and goals. This can be a fun and engaging way to promote team bonding. 
  • Business trivia: Imagine holding a trivia night, but instead, it would be based on the field you are from. It is a refreshing idea where people from the same professional background can come together and discuss problems, share strategies and ideas to overcome the issues, and more. 

2 Engaging team building activities 

  • Escape room challenge: Create a DIY escape room challenge where team members have to work together to solve puzzles and riddles to "escape." This can promote problem-solving skills and teamwork. 
  • Board game tournament: Host a board game tournament where team members can relax, have fun, and engage in friendly competition. Board games can help improve communication and teamwork skills. 

6 Communication & trust building activities 

Organize activities focused on improving communication skills and building trust among team members. This can include role-playing exercises, trust falls, or group problem-solving tasks. Some communicational and trust building activities are as follows:

  • Online scavenger hunt: Participants work together virtually to find clues and complete challenges online.
  • Collaborative brainstorming : Use online whiteboards to brainstorm ideas together, encouraging communication and participation from everyone. 
  • Collaborative story building : The team starts a story sentence by sentence, each person adding a new element. This fosters creativity and listening skills. 
  • Role-playing exercises:   Simulate real-world scenarios relevant to your team's work. This allows for practicing communication skills and building trust in a safe environment.
  • Blindfolded challenge: Enhance communication and trust among team members by organizing blindfolded challenges where one team member is blindfolded and guided by their teammates to complete a task.
  • Icebreakers & getting to know you : Start team meetings or gatherings with icebreaker activities to help team members get to know each other better and feel more comfortable working together. 

These low-budget team-building ideas can be tailored to suit your team's preferences and goals, fostering a positive and cohesive work environment. Let’s go through 2 case studies to understand the impact corporate team building ideas have on employees and the overall success of the organization.  

Case studies

Following are the two case studies to showcase the significance of placing team building ideas. 

1. Principia Substantiate Emotional Connection within The Team Using Sessions on ‘Emotional Intelligence’  

Establishing a strong company culture can be difficult for any organization. However, the task becomes particularly challenging when employees are geographically dispersed. Principia , a research and consulting firm with a geographically remote workforce of approximately 20 employees and contractors, faced the same issue.  

“We all work remotely, and we’re spread out all over,” says Brooke Cowell, VP of Marketing at Principia.

With most of its workforce working remotely, it becomes a challenging task to keep them engaged. 

“It’s difficult to get to know each other better as individuals since we’re not physically all located in one place. It makes it hard for us to understand and describe who we are, from a cultural perspective,” comments Lou Rossi, Managing Partner at Principia.   

Although Principia adopted evolving communication technologies, there remained a gap in engagement as the company continued to rapidly grow. 

“We’ve reshaped our team through the hiring process and the company has almost doubled in size over the last year. There are enough of us now that we need to make sure we are aligned and on the same page. And doing everything remotely made that even more challenging," commented Rossi.   

The challenges they faced included: 

  • Engaging 20 remote employees and contractors 
  • Identifying better and reflective ways of working together 
  • Wanting to define and build a stronger company culture 

“We wanted to bring someone in from the outside, who could help us get to know each other better, and help us work together on a more personal level. We wanted someone who would be able to identify better ways for us to work together.” said Brooke Cowell, VP of Marketing at Principia. So, they collaborated with a specialist.

The team came up with a session titled "Emotional Intelligence." This session aimed to enhance both interpersonal relationships within the team and individual self-awareness. The interactive session not only strengthened team bonds but also got valuable insights and practical takeaways. Their tactics included: 

  • Lyndon Friesen, Skill Development Facilitator, leading an interactive training session on Emotional Intelligence 
  • Getting provided with key takeaways and tactical insights

The training has had an impact on the team’s day-to-day interactions which resulted in:

  • Employees align their working style with a focus on company culture 
  • Emotional awareness and positive day-to-day interactions between employees.

2. Microsoft harnesses accountability and individual growth in the team with ‘five behaviors of a cohesive team’ program

A successful team environment relies on three key elements: trust, collaboration, and accountability.  This was the challenge facing Darci Kleindl when she assumed the role of General Manager for Sales Excellence and Enablement at Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS). Ms. Kleindl was entrusted with leading a global team of customer support managers within a tight timeframe for a prestigious Fortune 100 company.

This team supported a diverse clientele including engineers, marketing organizations, consultants, and external customers. The group worked independently before Ms. Kleindl started. When she arrived, there was a big change.  

The company combined its CRM work with the overall strategy, making its workload much heavier. Even though it was difficult, Ms. Kleindl had experience leading groups through changes. She planned a program to improve teamwork and create a good work environment for her team. 

Darci Kleindl wanted to truly improve her team, not just with a one-time training session. She wanted them to trust each other, work together well, and be responsible. 

To do this, she partnered with a teamwork expert who suggested a program called "The Five Behaviors." This program helps teams understand what they're good at as a team and where they can improve. 

Kleindl and the expert then built a longer program based on "The Five Behaviors." This program helped the team communicate better, understand their roles, and become better leaders. Kleindl wanted everyone to understand themselves and how they work with others. 

So, a team-building session was held for a new group of colleagues. The session aimed to build trust and understanding among the team members.  Activities were designed to help them learn about each other's backgrounds and perspectives. They also discussed their shared values and goals for the team and the company. This foundation of trust and communication allowed the team to move forward effectively.

This program has had a significant and positive impact on the MBS group, according to Ms. Kleindl. Namely, she noticed: 

  • The team has expanded its network 
  • Implemented systems to improve productivity 
  • Streamlined their planning process and increased individual engagement through one-on-one interactions. 
  • A clear understanding of individual and team responsibilities. 

The Five Behaviours framework provided a strong foundation for further development. Importantly, the program's success stemmed from making individuals feel valued. The MBS group is now recognized for fostering a commendable culture built on trust, collaboration, and accountability. 

Kleindl remarked, “I think this team has increased in visibility substantially as far as what they do and the impact. Our relationship network has grown, systems have been put in place to help with productivity, our planning is more succinct, and the team is connecting more one-on-one with people to explain their roles.”  

Conclusion 

Corporate team building activities are crucial for fostering a successful and cohesive work environment. Through team-building exercises, colleagues can discover hidden talents and strengths in each other. If done right, corporate team building initiatives can help employees at work: 

  • Talk better together 
  • Work together more smoothly 
  • Trust each other more 
  • Enjoy work more 
  • Learn each other's strengths and weaknesses. 

So, motivate your employees and keep them engaged in the workplace for overall success of the organization. 

4 Team Building Experiences to Create a Harmonizing Team

Performance rewards to motivate and retain your top talent, ideas for hrs to add meaning, involvement, and zing to the workplace..

Nagma Nasim

-->Nagma Nasim -->

Nagma is a content writer who creates informative articles, blogs & other engaging content. In her free time, you can find her immersed in academic papers, novels, or movie marathons.

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Moms are flocking to use desks that have cribs attached. They say it allows them to balance motherhood with their careers.

  • The desks have a play area attached to keep babies and tots entertained.
  • Parents say that the desks allow them to work near their children.
  • They're best for short spurts of work, parents say.

Insider Today

When Maegan Moore returned to work about two months ago after the birth of her first child , she found a unique solution for balancing her career with mothering: a work-play desk that lets her care for her baby, Eleanor, while also having a dedicated workspace.

"For her age, it's been awesome," Moore told Business Insider. "I'll try to time it so I can feed her, put her down in the play desk area, and do some work that doesn't involve calls."

The work and play desk is a sort of cubicle designed for parents and children. The desk has a flat work area for parents and a play-pen-like attachment for babies.

Moore uses the desk at a coworking space in New York, but the idea originally started at a library in Virginia that largely serves a disadvantaged population that has trouble accessing both childcare and reliable internet.

Moore doesn't use the desk for long stretches of time — about an hour or two is her current limit. Although she has childcare during the middle of the day, she uses the desk most mornings and afternoons. She says that being able to have Eleanor nearby and nurse her, rather than pumping, has eased her transition back to work.

"That's been a real gift," she said.

A mom uses the desk to cope with days off school

Bethany Crystal , who contracts for multiple companies in tech and education, uses the work-and-play desk for her 21-month-old, Sydney. Because of the nature of her work, she doesn't have an office to report to. Before finding the work and play desk, she had instances of trying to nurse her baby in a WeWork coworking space or struggling to find a place to put her while she interviewed with firms. The work and play desk has solved that.

"It's really useful to be able to go places for an hour or two and have a place to put a baby," Crystal told BI.

Now that Sydney is a toddler, she's enrolled in a local Montessori school , but the frequent days off mean that Crystal still utilizes the work and play desk regularly.

"There's a lot of inservice days and holidays, which wreaks havoc for professional, entrepreneurial parents like myself," Crystal said.

Sydney is "so happy" to be next to her mother, and Crystal is able to get solid two-hour blocks of work done, which add up over the course of her 60-hour workweek .

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"Even being able to put her in the crib for little stints made such a big difference," she said.

To Crystal, the desk is representative of a modern work-life balance.

"I believe we are in a new era of work, where it's no longer about what job you want, it's about what kind of lifestyle you want," she said. "For me, it's critically important to have spaces to do work that lean into the messy complications of an imperfect life with a lot of demands."

Solving the problem of the generation

Both Moore and Crystal use the work and play desk at Workplayce , a family-friendly coworking facility on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In addition to the desks, the building offers quiet work space, a communal area for parents to work while kids play, and dedicated on-site childcare that can be booked by the hour.

For Crystal, who also has a 4-year-old, the community aspect has been as important as the physical space.

"Not only do I have a place where kids can be kids and I can be at work, but I have fellow parents who are in work-hybrid mode," she said. "It's the first time I've felt like I've been part of a peer-parent community."

"It's refreshing to me," she added, "and helpful for us to see each other and learn how we are all making it work."

When Moore heard about Workplayce, she thought, "This is incredible. What a cool tool to equip working parents."

Prior to this, Moore tried working from home with a babysitter for Eleanor. But living in a small apartment, it was difficult "to not look around and see all the tasks and to-dos," which could distract from work, she said.

Now, she typically goes to the coworking space about four times a week, enrolling Eleanor in childcare when she has a meeting, a call, or work that requires deeper concentration.

"It's great having her around and getting to pop in and see her, but when I need full separate space, I have the ability to do that as well," Moore said.

That setup more accurately matches the lives of many modern working parents, Crystal said.

"There's a unique opportunity for parents to make work and kids fit with their lives. Decoupling work and kids from these arbitrary 9-to-5 work days or 9-to-3 day care days is the first step to making a life that works for you," she said. "This is a really important thing for our generation to solve for."

Watch: Microsoft's chief brand officer, Kathleen Hall, says the company's employees are its best product testers

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  5. 60 Problem Solving Business Ideas To Start In [2024]

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  1. Looking for a Good Business Idea? Solve Problems

  2. Problem solving and decomposition exercises

  3. 4 Online Business Ideas that Solve REAL problems

  4. We all have skills

  5. Technology Leadership: Navigating Challenges and Maximizing Opportunities

  6. How to Solve Business Problems Effectively: Expert Solutions and Strategies! 💼🔍 #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. 60 Problem Solving Business Ideas To Start In [2024]

    This post highlights some creative problem-solving business ideas you can consider. In this list of ideas, you can find: Home-based businesses. Low-investment online business ideas that solve problems. Unique business opportunities you can start from home. Here is the full list: 1. Start an appliance repair business

  2. 54 Good Business Ideas That Could Be Your Next Big Thing

    Problem-Solving: Find a business idea that solves a problem. Start with the issue, then find a product or service solution. Renovation: A good business idea doesn't need to be innovative—it can be renovative. Fix a broken idea or build upon an already successful one. ... 4 Good Remote Business Ideas. New business ideas have blossomed due to ...

  3. 24 Business Ideas That Could Be Worth Millions

    Online Influencer. It's a common dream nowadays to become an internet celebrity, and there's a reason: Building a wide audience on the internet can give you immense influence that can be monetized ...

  4. 40 Best Startup Business Ideas for 2024

    38. Open a food truck or restaurant pop-up. Opening a food truck or restaurant pop-up is a great startup idea for entrepreneurs with a knack for cooking. Both options are easier to launch than a ...

  5. 14 Examples of Business Ideas That Solve Problems

    14 businesses that were founded to solve a problem. 1. The ADU Guide. Startup story: "My journey began when I came across the widespread issue of limited housing options. Recognizing the need for adaptable living spaces, I established a construction company that specializes in accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

  6. Problem Solving Business Ideas: Launch Your Success Today

    Explore essential steps to launch a problem-solving business, covering everything from drafting a robust business plan to leveraging digital platforms for growth. This article offers guidance on legal frameworks, networking, and scalability, emphasizing the importance of adaptability in the dynamic business environment.

  7. How to Come Up With a Good Business Idea in 7 Steps

    Run a survey. These are just a few ways to uncover actual problems. Once you've identified a few persistent issues, dream up possible solutions. That may lead you to a highly desired business idea. 2. Talk to family and friends. It's challenging to think up ideas solo. So, reach out to someone you trust.

  8. 10 great small-business ideas for 2024

    Learn from the best: Finding mentors is invaluable for gaining insights based on their experience. 8. Selling art online. Starting a small business to sell your art online offers the unique ...

  9. 7 Proven Ways to Come Up with New Business Ideas

    But today, let's go through some of the proven methods you can use to come up with your first (or next) business idea. Table of Contents show. 1. The Rip, Pivot, and Jam Method. I first heard of this method from one of my favorite podcasts, the Tropical MBA show. Here's how it works:

  10. 10 Step Process for Effective Business Problem Solving

    And you can do the same. By following this 10-step process, you can develop your problem-solving skills and approach any issue that arises with confidence. 1. Define the problem. When a problem arises, it can be very easy to jump right into creating a solution. However, if you don't thoroughly examine what led to the problem in the first ...

  11. 18 Creative Business Ideas

    Today, you can create a business from nearly any passion. For example, if you enjoy writing, you might consider launching your own publishing company or magazine. If you love baking, you can start ...

  12. To Solve a Tough Problem, Reframe It

    Phase 4: Elevate. This phase involves exploring how the problem connects to broader organizational issues. It's like zooming out on a map to understand where a city lies in relation to the whole ...

  13. A never-ending list of business ideas and problems to solve

    4. Hey, gang. I decided to start posting my business ideas. I've collected these for years. They're going to waste sitting in my head, or in a 90% blank Moleskine. I may use one sometime. I ...

  14. 5 Keys To Solving The Right Problems In Your Business

    The process and the results are the same - starting with creative questions to find the real opportunity. 2. Adopt a more effective problem-solving mindset. Analyze your habitual approach to ...

  15. Better Brainstorming

    Better Brainstorming. Focus on questions, not answers, for breakthrough insights. Summary. Great innovators have long known that the secret to unlocking a better answer is to ask a better question ...

  16. What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?

    Creative problem-solving is a vital business tool. Here's an overview of the creative problem-solving process and its importance. ... In addition to solutions, creative problem-solving can spark innovative ideas that drive company growth. These ideas can lead to new product lines, services, or a modified operations structure that improves ...

  17. Creative Problem-Solving Strategies to Test Your Business Idea

    Liedtka breaks the design-thinking process into four stages, assigning a core question to each of them. Try asking yourself these questions as you create a new product or business: 1. What is the ...

  18. How to Solve Problems

    How to Solve Problems. To bring the best ideas forward, teams must build psychological safety. by. Laura Amico. October 29, 2021. HBR Staff/EschCollection/Getty Images. Teams today aren't just ...

  19. How to Create a Problem-Solving Business Idea

    Define your value proposition. 5. Build a minimum viable product. 6. Validate your product-market fit. 7. Here's what else to consider. Creating a business idea that solves a problem is one of ...

  20. Business problem solving

    That's what we've found after decades of problem solving with leaders across business, nonprofit, and policy sectors. These leaders learn to adopt a particularly open and curious mindset, and adhere to a systematic process for cracking even the most inscrutable problems. They're terrific problem solvers under any conditions.

  21. 43 brainstorming techniques and games for creating new ideas

    3-12-3 Brainstorm. Brainstorming is often associated with fast ideation and energetic idea generation sessions. While many standard techniques can be slowed down and run in different ways, there can be obvious benefits to maintaining energy and proving the value of short working bursts to your ideation group.

  22. Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders

    4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need. 1. Problem Framing. One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you're trying to solve.

  23. Unique Business Ideas That Solve Problems

    Business Ideas to Solve Problems Disaster and emergency preparedness kits. Since climate change is a global occurrence, starting a business that provides disaster and emergency preparedness kits is a great idea. It's not only a valid business idea but also a necessary one as weather disasters are expected to be more common in the future.

  24. 35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving complex problems

    All teams and organizations encounter challenges as they grow. There are problems that might occur for teams when it comes to miscommunication or resolving business-critical issues.You may face challenges around growth, design, user engagement, and even team culture and happiness.In short, problem-solving techniques should be part of every team's skillset.

  25. 7 High-Profit Business Ideas Worth Exploring

    Launching your online store using platforms like Shopify or Etsy provides a scalable way to reach customers. Niche markets like eco-friendly products, pet supplies, or tech gadgets can prove ...

  26. Boost Problem-Solving Skills in Business Strategy

    Embrace Creativity. Be the first to add your personal experience. 6. Reflect Regularly. Be the first to add your personal experience. 7. Here's what else to consider. Be the first to add your ...

  27. 14 Team Building Ideas for Employees in Low Budget

    This helped boost their problem-solving skills while perfecting team communication. Board game tournament: Host a board game tournament where team members can relax, have fun, and engage in friendly competition. Board games can help improve communication and teamwork skills. 💡.

  28. A mom uses the desk to cope with days off school

    Solving the problem of the generation. Both Moore and Crystal use the work and play desk at Workplayce, a family-friendly coworking facility on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In addition to the ...

  29. DoD's New Approach: Solving Talent Management Challenges

    The first challenge kicked off in August of 2023. It was a way to poll the total DoD force and bring forward new ideas to improve the talent management issues plaguing the department. In 2023, the DoD's Office of Personnel and Readiness received more than 200 submissions. Those 200-plus submissions were then dwindled to 33 semifinalists.

  30. GCSE Business: Emma Bridgewater

    Growing a business is something many entrepreneurs think about. Emma share her tips and advice on the importance of being unique and appealing to many people, and how she keeps motivated. This ...