Most people choose left or right when they come to a fork in the road. And you could just follow everyone else. Or you could just take the fork and do something with it.

This is what business building is like. It’s looking at what other people aren’t doing and doing that.

But how do you get from “no clue” to “successful idea”? Do you pull a rabbit out of a hat? Shuffle a deck of cards?

Today we’re going to give you a small map you can follow to getting to your best business ideas.

1. Take Note

Like the illustration above, you can easily find out where people have gone in the past. With the advent of the internet, this has become even easier.

You can easily find case studies online. Look at the niche you’re interested in and find out what startups other Entrepreneurs have done.

Take stock of what’s worked. Take stock of what hasn’t. You won’t be able to avoid all the pitfalls, but you can get yourself on a more stable path to success.

2. Identify the Problem

My parents used to complain that their socks would end up disappearing. The problem was, those socks never stayed in their pairs. One would go in one load, the other would go in another. And off to the void they go.

They kept saying they should invent something that keeps socks in pairs as they go through the laundry. And if my parents had actually followed through with that idea back in the 80s, they might be rich today.

Inventors often follow the same path as entrepreneurs. You need to find the problem and figure out how to solve it. Look at this service or that and figure out if it’s a solution. Once you have a solution, you’ll build a business around that solution.

3. Follow the Trends or Not

I recently went to a book reading by Craig Johnson, the author of the Longmire series. He told us about his journey to becoming an author. One thing he said really stuck with me. “Publishing is like being a cop. When everyone is running one direction, you need to be running in the opposite.”

Now, you need to be wise in this. Sometimes, the crowd is the direction you need to go because that’s a stable market.

But if you’re ready to take a few risks, sometimes where people aren’t running is where the real need is. Look at the trends and see if you can’t predict the future a bit.

Ask the Right Questions

What are your skills? What’s missing? What can you offer that competitors can’t?

Write down your answers to these questions. And then just take that fork in the road and do something with it.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.