Start Me Up Series


Great business ideas do not rely upon ‘entrepreneurial’ intuition to be discovered.  The reality is that business ideas can come from a variety of sources.  Did you know that the bicycle tyre was invented by a vet, the Frisbee was the brain wave of a baker and the cornflake was invented by a farmer?

And some of the best inventions have come from those born in Northern Ireland … milk of magnesium; street car, artificial fertiliser, safety lamp, portable defibrillator, ejector seat, modern tractor, pneumatic tyres even the split atom.

Ideas come from a variety of sources including formal business idea generation techniques, meeting needs or solving problems and published sources of business ideas.  Very often our own knowledge, skills and interests are a great source of finding a business idea.

What ways can you find ideas?

  • Brainstorming
    One of the most common and fun ways of generating a business idea
  • Finding a gap in the market
    Try to identify a particular group and assess their needs in order to help you  find a business idea
  • Building on your skills
    Don’t forget you have lots of skills gained through hobbies, voluntary work etc that could result in a viable business idea
  • Attribute Analysis
    This is a good technique for creating new or modified products or services by mixing components or properties in a new way
  • Published Sources
    There a number of published sources of information providing a variety of business ideas


Our Top Tips

* Identify and regularly review your target and move the “goal-posts” if necessary
*  Consider the possibility of a franchise as they offer you a safety net and there is always someone on-hand to give advice
*  Be confident, assertive & positive … after all, if you can’t sell your product/business to yourself, how can you sell it to anyone else?


Rachel Jameson from Randalstown started her own business when she realised more and more people were turning to fitness during lockdown.  She had been into fitness ever since she started university, however, after graduation and during lockdown, she was working out more than ever before and was very conscious of how much protein she was taking in.

“I thought of Mean Protein as a great idea to teach people about the importance of protein. As there are many brands out there, I decided to compile them all into one box so that people can try them all out without the stress of shipping costs from different brands.”


You and Your Idea

In defining your business idea you must ask yourself “What do I like doing and what am I good at?”  Self-employment enables you to concentrate on the things you enjoy therefore it is important that you look at not only your likes and dislikes but also your strengths and weaknesses.

Business Idea’s change over the years.  In 2004, the top three business ideas that came through Antrim Enterprise were:

  1. Childcare/playgroups
  2. Eateries
  3. Accommodation Provision

In 2021, they are:

  1. Petting/social farms
  2. Health & fitness
  3. Online Services

If you are interested in starting a business, but unsure where to begin, get in touch with one of the business support team to discuss how to turn an idea into a reality: or

028 9446 7774

Jennifer McWilliams
Written By
Jennifer McWilliams

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