So you want to build a freedom based business but you’re not exactly sure what that business should be?
The amount of online businesses that already exist today, plus an overwhelming amount of live trainings and free downloads. Where exactly do you even start? Innovation is my specialty, but not necessarily a walk in the park for others. The best way to come up with that perfect business ideas you’re dreaming to have, is to have multiple ideas.
The thing is: you’re not supposed to know what the end result looks like yet, and your first idea most likely won’t be the one that sticks. I mean, it’s kind of like marrying your first boyfriend. Sometimes it works, but in most cases, you’re really just testing out the waters.
When generating loads of business ideas, you want to feel free to imagine and dream a little dream. Let go of your judgement and if “it’ll work” or not. Afterall, the goal is to come up with something that makes the most sense for YOU.
It needs to excentuate your natural talent and skill, make sense in the marketplace, as well as line with your core values. To allow that to happen we have to brain dump, self analyze, reflect, and then connect the dots along the way by “trying stuff”.
Your freedom based business doesn’t have to be associated with your degree. It could be built off of personal experience, or wanting to solve a problem you once had. Don’t worry about the end result of your business, besides the lifestyle you have in mind (location independence).
When I was starting out, I had three solid business ideas. I knew that for any of them to be successful that I could only focus on one. I allowed myself to work on all three of them and know I’d eventually feel more passionate about one than the others.
Get out a notebook and a pencil! Here are 7 ways to discover multiple business ideas.
Think like a designer.
Designers don’t think their way forward, they build their way forward. You’re not going to just dream up a lot of fantasy businesses that have no relationship with the world or you. You’re going to build things, try stuff, and have fun in the process.
Want a career change? Instead of sitting around trying to decide what that change is going to be, you’re going to build multiple prototypes of real realities that could be your next location independent career.
The five mind-sets to learn in order to think like a designer:
Be Curious. This invites exploration and opportunities everywhere. It’s going to help you get good at being lucky. Be curious about how things work, what problems need to be solved, and open yourself up to out-of-the-box thinking.
Get in the game. Trying things and testing things out. How will you know what your next business should be if you don’t try doing “the thing”?Hop into facebook groups on the different topics that peak your interest. Do some searches, read the threads, and start conversation. This is how you can find different problems and see if you know how to solve them.
Reframe problems. There are some problems that are unsolvable, and others that need to be reframed to find a solution. This ensures that you don’t get stuck and you solve the right problem. It’ll also prevent you from falling into rabit holes or learning a new skill to solve something that’s unsolvable.
Know it’s a process. Life is messy, and sometimes with every step forward it can feel like you’re moving backwards. Mistakes will be made, good ideas will turn into bad ones and get thrown away. But it’s all a part of the process and nothing is born overnight.
Ask for help. No great business was born without collaboration. It takes a team, multiple skill sets, and brain power to design a career you truly love. There’s no such thing as a one-man show, and you’re not supposed to do this all by yourself.
Start where you are.
It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your age is, where you think you are going, or what job you have had or think you should have. You are not too late, and you’re not too early. You’re going to build a freedom based business exactly where you are at your current starting point. No matter what prior work experience you have.
The past is in the past, and we’re going to going to build our way forward. To do that we have to access where we currently are in our lives and what we want out of it. You can’t know if you’re moving forward if you don’t know your current starting point.
Sometimes we think we need something without understanding what’s really working and not working in our lives. Sometimes the problems we’re facing relate to our jobs, our industry, or our lifestyle, or all three. But it’s important to first know which of these are the biggest problems before we move forward.
Ask yourself these questions:
One: Do you like the current work that you do?
Maybe you’re a teacher but you don’t like your job. This could mean that you like to help people but you don’t like the classroom of kids that don’t appreciate you. Therefore you may still want to teach but to a different audience. Or teach a different subject, or you don’t want to teach at all, but give back in some way.
Two: Do you like your role but not the work?
You could be a project manager and are really good at multitasking, organizing, keeping systems, and managing projects and people. But you don’t like the subject matter of your projects, the organization, or the people you’re working with.
Three: You like both your job and industry but you’re not happy with the lifestyle it has brought you. You could be a graphic designer and building brand identities and websites at a digital agency but you don’t like working set hours or having to commute to the office. This will tell you that you can probably keep what you’re doing, but remove the “job” part, aka removing the office and start freelancing in that thing you already do.
Create an activity log.
Spend a few weeks doing a simple logging assignment at the end of every workday. Write down when you’re feeling bored, restless, or unhappy. This will point out what exactly you were doing in your job exactly at those times and when you were “disengaged”.
Then write down when you felt excited, focused, or just generally having a good time at work and what exactly you were doing during those times. This will show you what about your job and the duties inside your job that you like doing. You want to understand when you enjoy complete involvement in an activity and get into a “flow” state.
If you can see in your current working patterns what things you enjoy doing and what things you don’t this will show you whether you should make a career change or a job change. Like the examples above.
One. The teacher most likely really enjoys helping her students when they need her, but she does not enjoy preparing lesson plans.
Two. The project manager probably falls into a flow state at work when she’s creating robust seamless schedules and systems which tells her she is a good project manager and she finds enjoyment in it, but not necessarily when she’s in meetings with employers discussing the topic of the projects she has to work on
Three. The graphic designer gets the most excited about a new project and brand she gets to work on, but not the fact that she has to constantly check in with her boss because it seems like a waste of time when she can handle her work herself.
Some responsibilities in our day to day jobs we can’t escape, but this can also show proof of what you should outsource in your business.
Create a mind map.
The idea here is to come up with multiple business ideas. You don’t need to sit and think and think on one brilliant idea, you want to have multiple ideas to choose from. Any millionaire has made multiple businesses that came from multiple business ideas. Mind mapping is a great tool for ideating by yourself and a great method for getting unstuck.
It’s creating an association of words, one after another, to open up the idea space and come up with new solutions. The graphical nature of the method allows ideas and their associations to be captured automatically. It teaches you to generate lots of ideas because its visual and bypannses your inner logical censor.
One. Picking a topic
Two. Making the mind map
Three. Making secondary connections and creating concepts.
The whole process of creating layers and word associations take 3-5 minutes. You want to give yourself a time limit so you can do this fast and bypass your inner censor, and inner critique of “this idea sucks” It’ll also help show you things that you naturally like and are good at.
The next step is to highlight a few things that might be interesting or jump out to you and mash them up into a few concepts. You want to pick from the very outer layer of the mind map because this is the stuff that’s 2-3 steps away from your conscious thinking.
You often have to go through the wild ideas to get through the actionable good ones. Create 3 mind maps based off of the activity log journal you’ve created.
One. Mind map #1:
One of the areas of greatest interest to you, or an activity you were really engaged in such as (pitching a new idea, balancing a spreadsheet)
Two. Mind map #2:
Pick something you’ve identified as really energizing you in your work and life such as giving feedback to students, keeping things running right, art class)
Three. Mind map #3:
When you are in a state of flow in your work, put the experience itself in the center of your map, such as brainstorming new business ideas, speaking in front of the classroom.
Here’s two examples of a mindmap that I created with the invision app. One mindmap is travel, the other is design. Each have commonalities and three online business realities to take on.
Create multiple fun and interesting job descriptions.
Looking at the different mind maps you have just created pick 3-5 words that jump out to you and combine them into a possible job description or elevator pitch that would be fun and interesting to you. It doesn’t need to be practical or appealing, this is just an exercise for you to be creative and open your mind to different business ideas and possibilities.
Name the role that you have, besides CEO and founder. What is it that you’re doing in your business? What does your day to day look like? Are you helping people? Coaching? Managing? What do your clients look like? Who do you vision on the other side of the phone when you’re having client calls?
Draw a quick sketch of you and your multiple different job descriptions and what it looks like, one for each mind map. This way you’ll have multiple job descriptions and multiple sketches and visions to see what different types of businesses you could have, even if they seem silly and unrealistic right now. The point is to have fun and let your imagination run wild and ideate without judgement.
Instead of thinking what can I do next, you want to think, “what can I imagine?”
Pay attention to what people come to you for.
Besides that job you do, what do you people come to you for? It’s important to pay attention to the clues. If people tend to come to you to seek advice, I guarantee you love to help in a specific area. This is exactly how those elevator pitches “I help ideal clients get desired results” come into play.
Pay attention to conversations and sit back and listen. While traveling I would meet girls on vacation. They would always be shocked to know that I was living in that country and working remotely. I’d get asked again and again, BUT HOW?! I would tell them how, I would ask what they we’re currently doing, and I would reframe their role into a remote one.
I then figured out that there are a lot of limiting beliefs, it’s hard for those to take the first step, and people want direction and support. So I made a business out of it. I know I go to friends for different things and it’s not necessarily part of their job at all. Our job isn’t who we are or what we can do or are capable of doing, remember that.
Live out different business ideas in your many different lives.
Each of us have many different career paths we could take, it’s just about building out each of the scenarios and playing them out in our head. It could be as simple as redesigning your current career into a remote one, or dreaming up a new business that allows you to travel the world.
Where most people go wrong is thinking they need to come up with a “plan” for their lives and it’ll be smooth sailing from there. But our life didn’t come up with a blueprint. Our career isn’t a paint-by-numbers approach, but an abstract painting. One that’s open to multiple interpretations.
Dysfunctional belief: I need to figure out my best possible life, make a plan, and then execute it.
Refreame: There are multiple great lives (and plans) within me, and I get to choose which one to build my way forward to next.
Write up three different versions of the next five years of your life
When you imagine multiple scenarios and really envision what it would be like to live inside this career, you’ll have a better idea of what would be more appealing and satisfying.
That thing you do. Can you take your current career and turn it into a remote one? What would the process look like, and where would you be in 5 years if it we’re possible.
That thing you’d do if life one wasn’t an option. How would you make a living if the other option was suddenly gone. This can be hard at first, but I want you to imagine your alternate career and what it would look like out of an office setting.
That thing you’d do if money we’re no object. If you know you could not fail what kind of career would you want to have? One where no one is going to judge you or your career choices.
Imagine each of your career lives coupled with the kind of lifestyle you’d have with it. It’s helpful to illustrate what this would look like, the location(s) you would live in, what your hours and schedule would be, and who you would be serving. Who would your clients be? What do they look like?
Now give each of these lives a title. Sort of like a six-word headline to make you remember which of these career lives they are. Investigate the different possibilties they would each have and start to envision living them.
Add considerations to each of your three career lives. What experience or learning will you gain? What will life look like? Is there a particular role or industry you see yourself in? What are the impacts and results of choosing this alternative? How confident do you feel within each? What’s the likability? Do you have the resources to pull them off?
After doing these exercises you should have a better idea of what kind of freedom based business you’d want to create before diving into what sort of niche and ideal avatar you’d want to have.
If you get stuck at anypoint, try going back to creating a mind map and doing a skills audit. The article 7 questions to help uncover your career path will also help tremdously, as well as the workbook that works alongside it.
Let yourself have fun, imagine the different possibilities and business ideas you can create out of brain storm sessions and innovation. This is the first step before honing in on that one *perfect* business idea–– having lots of business ideas and seeing them playout in your head first.