12 Unconventional Ways to Develop and Replicate New Business Ideas


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12 Unconventional Ways to Develop and Replicate New Business Ideas

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12 Unconventional Ways to Develop and Replicate New Business Ideas

Unearthing innovative business ideas requires creativity and an unconventional approach. We’ve gathered insights from founders and CEOs to share one-of-a-kind strategies for inspiration. From spotting daily frictions to learning from historical entrepreneurs’ problem-solving, explore twelve unique methods these leaders employ to generate new business concepts.

  • Spot Inspiration in Daily Frictions
  • Stimulate Ideas with Diverse Experiences
  • Catalog Personal Frustrations for Ideas
  • Travel for Global Business Inspiration
  • Explore Obscure Interests for Ideas
  • Combine Concepts for “Idea Sex”
  • Dive into Unrelated Worlds
  • Analyze Customer Forums with AI
  • Flip Brainstorming to Focus on Problems
  • Use Art to Unlock Business Creativity
  • Observe Target Audience in Natural Settings
  • Learn from Historical Entrepreneurs’ Problem-Solving

Spot Inspiration in Daily Frictions

We often overlook the little inconveniences and frustrations that we encounter in our daily lives. However, these “frictions” can be excellent sources of inspiration for new business ideas. Take note of the problems you face, no matter how small or mundane they may seem, and start brainstorming potential solutions.

Several years ago, I grew tired of constantly misplacing my keys and wallet around the house. It was a minor annoyance, but one that caused me a great deal of frustration and wasted time. This experience led me to develop a simple organizational system that helped me keep track of my essentials. While it was initially just a personal solution, I realized that many others likely faced the same problem. With some refinement, this simple idea could potentially become a marketable product or service.

To replicate this approach, start by becoming more mindful of the everyday challenges and inconveniences you face. Carry a small notebook or use the notes app on your phone to jot down these “frictions” as they occur. Periodically review your notes and identify patterns or recurring issues. Then, engage in ideation sessions where you brainstorm potential solutions, no matter how unconventional or far-fetched they may seem initially.

Remember, some of the most successful businesses were born out of solving seemingly trivial problems. By embracing life’s annoyances and approaching them with a creative mindset, you may stumble upon your next big business idea.

Sai SathishSai Sathish
B2B Marketing Leader and Founder, ConsaInsights

Stimulate Ideas with Diverse Experiences

In my 20-plus years as an entrepreneur and business strategist, one of the most unconventional yet effective ways I’ve found to spark new ideas is through random exploration outside your domain of expertise. Our brains make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts all the time. The key is to feed your brain with diverse stimuli.

For example, I’m not an artist by any stretch, but I make it a point to visit art museums when I travel to new cities. The abstract and chaotic nature of modern art, in particular, helps me make unexpected neural connections. On a recent trip, I found myself thinking about how I could apply a technique from an art installation to help clients visualize complex data in new ways. That nascent idea has now turned into a new service offering.

The lesson here is that you never know where your next big idea might come from. Expose yourself to subjects, places, and people that are outside your wheelhouse. Let your mind wander and make connections between what you’re experiencing and the problems you’re trying to solve. You just might stumble upon that unconventional solution you’ve been searching for.

Matthew SmithMatthew Smith
Marketing Director, Right Hook Studio

Catalog Personal Frustrations for Ideas

Pay attention to the things that frustrate you, because we humans naturally seek ease and comfort, making these annoyances a solid starting point for generating a viable business idea!

Ask yourself, what bothers you? Is it the heavy city traffic, or the hassle of finding a good apartment? When you catalog the things you wish were better, it’s likely that others are bothered by these issues too. Keep a list of these irritants and brainstorm potential solutions.

I find that keeping a journal is invaluable for logging these ideas. It’s also a fantastic method for organizing and fleshing out your thoughts. There’s nothing worse than having a brilliant idea and not writing it down, because most of the time, you’ll forget it later and regret it. There are plenty of online tools like Evernote, Google Keep, or OneNote that can assist with this. It’s also wise to carry a few loose sheets of paper in your wallet or purse for quick notes!

Oliver CordingleyOliver Cordingley
Founder, OurGen

Travel for Global Business Inspiration

Simply travel. Explore what successful businesses are doing around the world. Each industry has places known for innovation. For example, fashion ideas often originate from Paris and Guangzhou, while software innovations are frequently born in Silicon Valley, and financial concepts tend to come from New York and London.

For example, I remember that in the early eighties, Howard Schultz worked for Starbucks, which at that time sold only whole bean coffee and offered no beverages in-store. During a trip to Milan, Italy, Schultz noticed the prevalence of coffee bars on nearly every street.

He observed that these places didn’t just serve excellent espresso but also functioned as community hubs, playing a significant role in Italian social life, with around 200,000 coffee bars across the country. Inspired, upon returning, Schultz proposed that Starbucks should start offering traditional espresso beverages.

Unable to convince the owners, including Jerry Baldwin, Schultz left to start his own chain of espresso bars. Years later, he acquired Starbucks, combined it with his chain, and transformed Starbucks into the global giant it is today.

Amir ElaguizyAmir Elaguizy
CEO, Cratejoy, Inc

Explore Obscure Interests for Ideas

I find that purposefully exploring my most obscure interests and fascinations often leads to unexpected business ideas. For instance, my casual hobby of studying ancient languages revealed an opportunity for a translation app using neural networks. By digging into your weirdest curiosities without judging their practicality, you open the door to original concepts that others aren’t seeing.

Ryan DoserRyan Doser
Co-Founder, AI Insider Tips

Combine Concepts for “Idea Sex”

One powerful yet unconventional way to develop business ideas is through “idea sex”—combining two or more seemingly unrelated concepts to birth exciting new ideas. To replicate this, intentionally consume content and experiences outside your industry.

Actively look for connections between disparate topics. Write down your ideas, even the crazy ones. The best business ideas often come from the collision of fields. Diverse inputs are the key to innovation.

Casey JonesCasey Jones
Founder, Head of Marketing, CJ&CO

Dive into Unrelated Worlds

An unconventional trick I use to come up with new business ideas is to dive into worlds completely unrelated to mine. I visit conferences, talks, or even online forums that are way out of my usual beat.

This mix-up has sparked some of our most creative solutions and keeps things fresh. Anyone can try this—just jump into something new and see where it takes your thinking!

Corey SchwitzCorey Schwitz
CEO & Founder, Skydog Ops

Analyze Customer Forums with AI

One unconventional method we’ve leveraged at Outverse for developing new business ideas is closely monitoring and analyzing the discussions within our own customer forums. This approach is somewhat unconventional because, traditionally, forums have been viewed mainly as platforms for support and community engagement rather than as goldmines for innovation. However, by applying advanced AI analysis to the conversations happening in these forums, we can identify common pain points, unforeseen use cases, and even direct requests for features that our customers are implicitly or explicitly suggesting.

This method can be replicated by others by integrating similar AI tools to scrutinize customer interactions—whether in forums, on social media, or through support tickets—not just for immediate support needs but as a valuable source of inspiration and innovation. The key is to listen actively to your users and leverage technology to scale that listening into actionable insights.

Lily BradicLily Bradic
Marketing Lead, Outverse

Flip Brainstorming to Focus on Problems

“Reverse brainstorming” is an innovative approach to generating fresh business ideas. Rather than focusing on solutions, this strategy encourages you to identify and investigate the problems or challenges in your sector or target market.

By flipping the usual brainstorming process, you can discover new opportunities and inventive solutions. To replicate this strategy, bring together a broad group of people, create a safe and open environment for discussing ideas, and encourage everyone to think critically and challenge conventional thinking.

Helen ArmstrongHelen Armstrong
Founder, Apsley Australia

Use Art to Unlock Business Creativity

Drawing inspiration from the art world, I organize workshops where participants create artworks based on thematic challenges related to our industry.

This artistic approach helps unlock new perspectives and fosters a different kind of creativity that can be translated into innovative business ideas. By engaging in artistic expression, participants often uncover abstract concepts that can inspire novel approaches to business challenges.

Others can replicate this method by integrating art-based activities into their ideation processes, using the arts as a tool to stimulate innovative thinking.

Ian SellsIan Sells
CEO, Million Dollar Sellers

Observe Target Audience in Natural Settings

One unconventional approach I’ve employed to develop new business ideas and offerings for My Millennial Guide is spending dedicated time directly engaging with and observing my target audience in their natural environments.

For example, I’ve attended local meetup events, hung out at popular cafes and co-working spaces, and even walked around college campuses—anywhere millennials congregate. Then I simply listened and observed.

I paid close attention to the types of conversations they were having, the problems and frustrations they voiced related to money, careers, goals, and lifestyles. I noted what burned them out or caused anxiety. Where were the emotional pain points?

These organic, unfiltered discussions and observations helped uncover needs, desires, and perspectives I’d never pick up on from an online forum or social media feed alone. Seeing their struggles and aspirations through my own eyes, not just data, sparked so many fresh, creative ideas.

The lesson for any entrepreneur is to get out in the field. Dedicate real face-time observing and engaging with your target customers in their daily lives. That’s where the richest insights emerge to inspire your next offering or solution to their unmet needs.

Brian MeiggsBrian Meiggs
Founder, My Millennial Guide

Learn from Historical Entrepreneurs’ Problem-Solving

One unusual way of coming up with unique business ideas is taking lessons from the problem-solving methods adopted by past entrepreneurs. Looking at how people like John D. Rockefeller or J.P. Morgan overcame adversity may provide valuable hints and inspiration. The likes of Rockefeller’s emphasis on efficiency and vertical integration, or Morgan’s strategic use of capital and alliances, only illustrate that their thinking rises beyond time.

Through the analysis of the techniques and tactics of past entrepreneurs, current-day leaders in business are able to access timeless principles that could be used for the resolution of current problems. This strategy makes the past come alive and, at the same time, motivates creativity and entrepreneurial thinking beyond the box.

Entrepreneurs can imitate this example by investigating biographies, case studies, and historical records of successful business leaders, extracting vital lessons to be used in their own businesses.

Gavon BurkdullGavon Burkdull
CEO and Co-Founder, Zestain

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