Road to Den: Map to finding the perfect product/business idea 
Recently, the youngest ever judge on the show: Dragons Den, has been confirmed. It is no secret that I love the programme, and dream of breaking another milestone- being the first black woman Dragon. Inspired by the news, and the excitement of awaiting another season this year, I decided to create a series dedicated to the show and that will help ensure that you too are on your way to getting a deal.

This first edition is dedicated to the first step any budding entrepreneur must take- coming up with a business or product idea. It can be very daunting to think of something original, that will also be successful, in an increasingly oversaturated market; but not to worry, I am here to help. Here are 4 tips/steps to keep in mind when starting your business: 

Turning your hobby into a business

This is probably the first thing that comes to mind, and for good reason. Turning your hobby into your business, not only takes out the guesswork of having to learn the craft before you can start monetising it, but it is also packed full of benefits to your productivity and success. 

Research has shown that people who do what they love for a living. or that enjoy their work, have proven more productive, motivated, and better leaders. Further, an assembly of studies by levelling up, showed that happiness makes people 12% more productive . There are even indications that doing what makes you happy, improved your mental well-being and increases your life span!

Facing the facts, we know that about 60% of all new businesses don’t make it past the 3-year mark, so you should take full advantage of any edge you can get, and turning your hobby into a business, gives you plenty of it. You might be an expert braider; you might know how to do makeup; you might’ve picked up crochet/knitting during the last year of quarantine; or you might even be the designed group photographer, snapping everyone for Instagram; no matter what it is, pick your favourite skillset and/or hobby and get to work! 

Carry out market research

Keeping your business idea in mind, the second obvious step is identifying your target market through research. This one might seem slightly more complicated than the previous step, but it is crucial. You need to understand whether or not your hobby has any selling potential, and if so, who your potential customer base is.  

We have never had access to as much, and as easily available information. You should take full advantage of it, and get to researching! Utilize both search engines and social media to understand if people are talking about, and looking for services/products associated with your hobby/business; and, to identify who are the people showing interest in your hobby, so that you can assess the size of the market, and how to best target them. 

Businesses that start up with a strategy, and do thorough research, have more longevity than those that don’t, and businesses that carry out market research before starting up maintain a competitive edge. So, open up your browsers and feeds, and start working on it! 

Carry out competitive analysis

Carrying on from our last point, this step also means researching and using those social media pages and search engines, to expand your knowledge of the market, access its potential, familiarise yourself with the competition, and strategize on how to gain an edge over them. Competitive analysis, as it is known, has been shown to help businesses strategize more effectively, and increase their competitive edge. 

 As a start-up, one of your main goals, while carrying out your competitive analysis, should be to weigh your business opportunity against your risk (meaning, you have to understand if entering this market will lead to more revenue and sales, then it costs you to be operating). Analysing how many competitors you have, what share of the market they have and how saturated it is, should help you do just that, and decide whether or not this idea will be successful. 

You also should be looking through relevant hashtags, and at the first business pages that come up on Google when you search for your product or service. Your goal should be to understand how the market works, who are the biggest players, what is selling, and what strategies are being used to sell; you should then focus on establishing their weaknesses and your opportunities, and then strategise on how to take advantage of them (think about doing a SWOT analysis for your competitors; and about doing one for yourself. Later compare your weakness, strengths, and opportunities).  

Identifying your target market / Finding your niche

Using the weaknesses found in your competitive analysis, and the demands found in your market analysis, you should be finding the gaps in your market and catering your service /product to filling them. Let’s remind ourselves of just how saturated markets can get; to stand out and withstand, you absolutely need to make your product is useful, and ensure it has sale potential. 

If your draft idea didn’t quite make it past the 3rd step, you can still look for the niches in the wider market that are not being serviced. Use your competitive analysis to look for where there might be demands that are not being serviced by the competitors. Maybe there is a demand for bakery Instagram photographers; or children’s hair braiders; or crochet clubs for teenagers; no matter how small it may look, chances are that there is a niche you can cater your unique selling point to, and still find a great opportunity. If it still doesn’t turn out that great a prospective- not to worry! You can just do the entire process again, but this time using a different idea, one which the analysis seems to show would be a good investment. Keep at it! 

If, however, your idea made it past the 3rd step comfortably, look back at your competitive and market analysis, and identify the gaps that you are ready to fill. There are probably weaknesses in your competitors’ product, marketing strategy, or customer service. There are also probably opportunities for fresh ideas and products within your market, that your competitors haven’t gotten to yet. Cater your unique selling point to these gaps and prepare yourself to start being a successful entrepreneur. 

If you follow these steps, your brainstorming section should be much less brain wrecking and a lot more pragmatic. It should provide you with a starting point for your entrepreneurial journey. If you still find yourself lost after reading this, I would be happy to help you craft a unique and complete business plan that is sure to get any Dragon’s attention at 


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