Research and develop your business ideas, new products and services

Finding and developing your idea and new products and services

A new idea is often the basis for starting up a business. Many entrepreneurs spot a gap in the market and start businesses that provide a product or service that fills it. Others come up with ways to improve an existing product.

Coming up with a new idea

If you want to start a business but don't yet have an idea to work with, there are many ways to go about identifying one. The following questions may help:

  • Do you have any particular skills that could form the basis of a new business?
  • Are you aware of a gap in the market in the industry that you currently work in?
  • Do you have a hobby that could be turned into a business?
  • Has there ever been a time when you needed a particular service or product that nobody else provides? If you needed it, there is a good chance that other people will too.
  • Can you help solve any of the problems posted by government departments and public sector organisations on the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) website? SBRI is a government scheme supported by the Technology Strategy Board that awards funding to develop innovative ideas.

See the page on the Small Business Research Initiative in our guide on support networks and facilities for innovation and R&D.

Developing your idea

Once you have got a business idea, take time to refine it. This will help you to decide whether it could be the foundation of a successful business.

There are various established methods of developing a business idea. You can:

  • conduct market research to discover whether your idea fills a gap in the market - see our guide on market research and market reports
  • brainstorm your idea with friends, colleagues or staff - they can give different perspectives on the idea and may know if anyone else is doing the same thing
  • think about whether your idea can take advantage of an opportunity created by new technologies, eg by trading online
  • consider whether social trends will affect demand for your product, eg the increasing demand for organic food or concerns about global warming and carbon footprints

Developing new products and services

There's a lot at stake when you are developing a new product or service. To minimise risks and allocate investment and resources wisely, you should consider a number of factors, including customer needs and design, whilst also clearly defining your plans. For more information, see the page on the development stage of a product life cycle in our guide to the product life cycle.

Support for businesses developing new ideas

Designing Demand is a practical mentoring programme developed to help small to medium-sized businesses and technology start-ups use design to improve performance.

It helps businesses embed effective processes for the management of design and innovation and gives managers the skills to exploit design by spotting opportunities, briefing designers and running projects that deliver.

Designing Demand is part of a range of support offered to businesses in England through the government's Solutions for Business portfolio.

Find out about Designing Demand on the Designing Demand website.

Find out about the range of support for business included in the government's Solutions for Business portfolio.

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