The following is a guest post by Mike Nesselbeck, founder of Business Idea Insight – an online resource designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs build the lifestyle they deserve by first coming up with a killer business idea!
Mike reached out to me earlier this year, as we obviously both share similar interests in cultivating business ideas and helping aspiring entrepreneurs. We agreed that a guest post on the topic, specific to generating business ideas using Facebook, would be extremely valuable to both of our audiences.
To take that value one step further, Mike developed a brief downloadable Cheat Sheet, plus a list of tools and other articles to help you find business ideas from Facebook:
To learn more about Mike and his business idea generation process, check out his blog at www.businessideainsight.com. Without further ado, enter Mike…
Generating Business Ideas Using Facebook
Business ideas are everywhere, yet it can be so hard to spot them. With all the noise out there with fake-news and “clickbait”, it can be hard to find solid information that is meaningful. That is why in this blog post I am going to teach you how to find business ideas using Facebook. Yes, that is right, Facebook, the app we all use five times a day (well at least I am guilty of this). Since we spend so much time on this app, let’s make this time productive and think of some business ideas.
New content on Facebook is posted by the second, and you can see new articles and photos just by clicking the news feed button again. There are all types of content in Facebook, for example:
This brings a constant stream of news that we can use to think of business ideas. However, you need to be careful about fake-news. This has been a problem lately, and can lead you down a path of disaster if you use this content to think of business ideas. To avoid this, here are a few suggestions from The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. This institution is quite reputable regarding information and sources. Original here
- Consider the source. Is this a reputable source that has often been honest and reliable in the past?
- Read beyond the headlines, as they can often be misleading
- Check the author. A quick Google search can tell you if they are a trusted source
- Are there supporting sources for the claims that are made?
- Check the date. Make sure it is not old news resurfacing
- Is it a joke? I have seen people be fooled fooled by theonion.com
- Ask the experts. Find a fact checker of your choice online to verify.
Once you have a reputable source that you like and follow in your Facebook feed, scroll through Facebook until you see news about problems that a lot of people, or a defined group is facing. Many Facebook pages such as the BBC News, Business Insider, Reuters, and others have news that is posted daily to Facebook for you to read. The reason you want to find problems is because then we have a somewhat validated hypothesis that we can try to come up with a solution for.
The other types of articles to look for would be informational articles. These ones can be purely about the industry or sector you want to start your business in. For example, it could be information of the latest healthcare advances that you could possibly license for a business idea.
Once we have found an article that we like, we are going to want to identify what type of news article it is,
- A problematic article; or
- An informational article.
Check out these examples below.
Next, now we are going to have to dig deep and read this article to understand what is really going on. Sometimes there can be multiple problems in an article, and we need to distinguish the one problem that causes the greatest pain-points for the most people (or at least to an accessible market that you believe you can reach).
With problem based articles, here is a set of questions you can ask yourself to brainstorm business ideas…
- “What resources do I have available to me to create a solution?”
- “How can I employ the resources I currently have to solve this issue/ problem?”
- “How would I want this problem solved if I was encountering this issue?
- “How would my family and friends want this solved?”
- “How would someone who is the opposite of me, want this solved?”
Better yet, since we are using Facebook, you could figure out what the ultimate problem was in your article, re-share it in a status, and ask people to see how they would want it solved.
If you have an informational news article, then here is a different set of questions you can ask yourself. As well, you can also post this article and ask your friends on Facebook what they think too.
- “Is this information useful to my life in a daily or weekly manner?”
- “Would people other than me such as my parents, friends, or acquaintances find use of this?”
- “Is this new technology or practice going to change the way the certain industry operates as a whole?”
- “Can you license whatever it is that is being presented? If so, is this a viable business option for you?”
Using these sets of questions, and the support of people you have on Facebook, you should be able to brainstorm a few business ideas. If you are still stuck, check out this equation to guide you to creating a better business idea.
Value you can bring + Problem + Business Model = Business Idea
Give yourself some time to think of ideas and write them all down, even if they sound dumb. If you are like me I always get them in the shower, which is why I have a waterproof pen and paper so I don’t forget.
Outsourcing your business idea brainstorming to Facebook
Forms and Facebook Groups
Another source of inspiration can be Facebook groups, and utilizing the people in there. By creating a simple form through your favorite form creator, I like Google forms, you can survey people anywhere on Facebook with a link. This form will have one to three questions, asking people how they would want a certain problem solved, and if this is a problem that affects them directly.
Then you will want to find Facebook groups that have your target audience, and post this form to the group. For it to be valuable and engaging, you will want to offer an incentive related to these people’s interests for them to take the survey. Remember, try and keep this cheap. You can do this by creating a basic informational product that they receive free, that would usually cost money.
This option is a little more expensive, but it can yield some powerful results if you do it right. Firstly, you would begin by utilizing the problem or information you have at hand, and creating three to five different assumptions about them. For example, if you had a problem article and you identified the problem to be, “People with incomes of $20,000 to $30,000 face serious issues obtaining loans that do not take advantage of them with high-interest rates”.
- You would then create a bunch of different answers, using the questions to ask yourself that we covered above.
- Choose three to five of your answers that contain assumptions or possibilities of the solution that would be provided to solve the problem.
- Create a set of Facebook ads, each one catering to that certain target market. However if you do not know the target market, then you can target large geographic areas.
For example, using the example above your ad may look like: “Need a lower cost solution to high interest rate loans?”
“Need a solution to high interest rate loans, we can help through debt counselling services”.
- Once clicked, a simple web-page would need to be set-up to collect emails for people who are interested. This way, you already have an interested audience if you decide to go with that option.
After running your ads, you can see what assumptions/ solutions you thought of from the set of questions that converted the most clicks. From there, your business assumption or solution is partially validated, and you can continue to refine your idea.
Applying a Business Model
There are a lot of different business models you can apply so I have listed five general ones here, and five other very specific ones.
- Manufacturer: This business model generates money by putting raw goods or partially manufactured goods together.
- Distributor: Taking the finished products and getting them to the end destinations for money
- Retail: Money is made by selling the finished products to the end user
- Service: Providing a service to people for a fee
- Commodity: Providing raw goods to people for a fee
- Subscription: People subscribe to this service at a monthly or yearly rate
- Freemium: The base model is free, and the awesome upgrades cost money
- Direct Sales: Sell directly from the manufactured product to the end user
- Ad Revenue: Money is made by displaying ads to your audience
- Leasing: Letting people borrow items for a fee
Once you apply a system to generate profits for your assumptions and/or solution that you are running with, your business idea is complete for you to validate further.
I hope you are able to take away a lot here, and using your time on Facebook much more productively. Who knows, your next breakthrough business idea may be from Facebook.
Remember, find reputable pages you can like or already do like on Facebook. Identify if those news sources you choose are problematic articles or informational articles. Now find solutions through asking yourself a series of questions, or asking others in Facebook groups with surveys. Utilizing Facebook ads to verify your assumptions or solutions identified from the previous questions can also create valuable results. Lastly, apply a business model so you can have a systematic way of creating money from your business idea.
If you liked this, you can download a PDF Cheat Sheet summary guide, including a list of tools and other articles to help you find business ideas from Facebook.