News outlets can be one of the best sources for information if you want to think about potential business ideas or opportunities. There are hundreds, if not thousands of companies that write about news all over the world.
It allows you to see potential opportunities around the world, where you could potentially travel to and start your entrepreneurial journey. Not only that, but the news is updated almost every second with the help of technology, allowing for constant information for you to think from.
Table of Contents
Video of the Exercise and Process
What we will cover
This article is going to show you how you can think of business ideas that solve problems identified in the news. The news is a great source of information for developing business ideas for several reasons. Firstly, there is new information published daily, so we have a steady stream of potential problems to solve. The news is also great because we can now access it anywhere and any time that it is convenient, making this exercise practical.
For beginners, this exercise consists of three steps. First, we find reputable news sources to follow so our ideas are based on data that is accurate. In step 2 we will determine the type of article, which will ultimately help us in step 3 where we think of potential solutions.
If you follow along correctly, you should be able to come up with at least five new ideas that you did not have before. I will also recommend some reputable news sources, as following a bad information source can lead you down a deadly entrepreneurial journey.
Step 1 – The News Hunt
This step is one of the most important steps for this entire exercise because the data we base our new business ideas off of come from this step when we select news sources to review. If the news source you select uses bad or misleading data, then that could cause real issues down the road when you validate your business idea in the marketplace and wonder why all your feedback was negative.
Finding Reliable News Sources
Below I have listed a few of my favorite places to gather news. I chose these sites based on their history and reputation for posting unbiased or quality news, with real facts to back the story up.
Narrow down your search by choosing an industry
To help narrow down your search for choosing articles after you’ve found a reputable news source to find articles from, you should decide on the industry you want to enter. Choosing an industry will help narrow down the sections for where you will look for articles, making it less overwhelming and easier to choose a few to run with. Not only that, but if you choose an industry you are interested in, you are much more likely to have fun in the business idea development phase.
Choose some articles
Now, choose 5 to 10 articles that you want to examine in the chosen industry. It’s important you do this before moving on to the next step. And the more articles you choose, the more potential problems you can solve.
Step 2 – Determing the Type of Article
There are different types of news articles to look out for as each different type will have a different process for analyzing so you can find the information or problem being presented and properly develop solutions using that information.
1. Informational-based articles
These types of articles are strictly providing information about a subject matter, such as a new discovery, new release, or informing you on a subject matter such as an event in your area. I cover a few examples of this later.
2. Problem-based articles
These types of articles will present a problem that is being faced by many people or a few people. Sometimes the problem is not obvious, and sometimes there are multiple problems presented in an article. These articles may be based on many people not liking a subject matter, or many people facing a problem such as a robbery or obesity. I provide a few examples of this below too.
The ability to make this distinction will allow you to adjust your perspective on how you read each type of article, to maximize your business idea generation.
Step 3 – Solution Brainstorming
Business ideas from large news events
Both London, and China have been experiencing large amounts of air pollution at an alarming rate. Due to this large issue at hand, there is potential to try and solve this problem with a business. To think of ideas you have to ask yourself “What could I do that would help solve this problem?” or “Who could I incentivize that is an expert in this area to help me solve this problem?”. I thought of two things:
1. Large Scale – Air Pollution Solutions Manufacturer
This idea would require a large amount of cash to start as you would have to set up a manufacturing plant, and find quality distributors. However, I liked this idea because if you are located in the United States it may be more favorable to manufacture goods within the USA. The solutions I am talking about could be new turbines that reduce the impact that these large machines have regarding emissions. For example, scrubbers are installed to reduce harmful emissions from entering the environment. Another solution would be to develop a cheap catalytic converter that people can use for their small 2-stroke scooter engines. This has been a large contributor to the air pollution problems in China. Although it would be hard to establish a strong business in China without a joint-venture with an established Chinese company, London is also a great prospect relating to the scrubber technology.
2. Water Filtration Company
Air pollution is also a huge contributor to creating poisoned drinking water. In some places of China and India, water filtration systems is a solution that would help hundreds of thousands of people. With this idea, it would be easier to start smaller as you could set up filtration companies by the plot of land until you were able to gain some traction, instead of a larger scale operation like manufacturing equipment to sell. As you can see, rural waterways are highly affected by this. One could begin by tackling the problem through underground filtration systems, or begin by approaching residential areas and selling sink attachments that clean your water.
Business ideas from small news events
Now that we have talked about a worldly problem/ current event, this second current event is a minor one to show you there are lots of business ideas out there that can come from both big and small events.
Recently, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently declared that internet is a basic telecommunications channel for all Canadians, and as such, areas need to be upgraded to meet this level of basic service. $750 million is being committed to this project, and the article lays out where the need is highest — in the northern regions of Canada. If you are actually interested in this idea, CRTC wants your bid! If you read the whole thing, you may be able to see the potential to establish stronger internet connections in the rural places of the country. I would label this type of news to be an informational article. Although a problem is presented, more information is provided about what is being done going forward, rather than purely discussing the problem at hand. From this article, I thought of two potential business ideas:
1. Internet Infrastructure Development Company (Industrial or Residential)
This was the first to come to mind for me because I thought if they to do any expansion of internet capabilities, new or stronger infrastructure needs to be in place. Secondly, if you need heavy duty machinery to lay pipes for fiber-optic or regular cables, machine rentals from several places in Alberta such as Calgary would offer a cheaper alternative due to the recession from oil. If you took an industrial focus, the heavy machinery to lay pipes or cranes to set-up radio towers would come at a high price. However, if you wanted to get in on this action with a less cash intensive approach, setting up a residential internet business may be a worthwhile idea. The residential internet infrastructure company would only need to wire the houses to the main poles outside the house, or to the box if they laid the cables in the ground. Another point that adds to the insight into this idea was the following clause in the article, “Currently there is a subsidy for residential local voice services in rural and remote areas that amounted to approximately $100 million in 2016.” There is already a subsidy if you want to establish your business in the phone services, which would give you time to ramp up internet installations!
2. Wifi Connection Hotspots (free or pay-for-service)
An internet hotspot company via Wifi is another service that could be provided if you had the ability to set up the infrastructure. If someone was to take over the setup of the industrial infrastructure construction, a deal might be able to be made between yourself and that company, allowing you to set-up hotspots from there infrastructure. Alternatively, you could establish these connection spots in the cities where they do not have much of a system like this set-up, but they already have the main infrastructure built. I thought of this by thinking about all the major cities, and how they are all changing to have wifi access points for everyone. With a mandate that the CRTC has created, it is going to make wifi hotspots increasingly common, and following, people in regions it hasn’t touched will start demanding it. The CRTC may even help fund your project, which would go a long way. Adding to this, wifi hotspots may be an efficient way to connecting several people in an area, instead of having a direct line wired to everyone in the city or community.
Now that I have shown you a large scale problem such as air pollution, and a small scale problem such as internet connectivity, I believe you are ready to think of some business ideas of your own from news articles. Below are five news articles I chose from a few of my favorite news sites, and I will begin with my business idea insight, and then you can think of your own from these articles. Some of these business ideas may have been previously thought-up ideas, however, I want you to see the potential in ideas that someone has already thought of. Also, I will also note if it is an informational or problem-based article to help with your identification process.
How to Use This Technique to Think of Business Ideas
1. Headline: Millennials on Money: ‘I am working two jobs right now’
Summary: The millennial generation in many of the major cities are now having to work two jobs, or have a second source of income to maintain their lives. The video continues to discuss the trend of millennials straying away from the traditional 30-year timeline with one job, collecting one pension. Many people in this generation do not tend to stay at a company longer than five to seven years.
Type of Article: Problem-based. The first problem I saw was that the millennial generation is clearly having to work too much to maintain a good lifestyle. Secondly, if people are not staying at one company for a long period of time, companies are going to need tactics and help to reduce this employee turnover as it can be costly to train people over and over.
Business idea: Employee Turnover Consultant/ Employee Happiness Consultant
I see huge potential in establishing a company that creates programs and ways that companies can hold onto their key employees for longer than this average period. Maybe this involves implementing strategies to help with remote employees, or finding ways to give your employee new working environments utilizing a tool like ShareDesk.
2. Headline: Norway to become 1st country to switch off FM radio
Summary: As the headline reads, Norway is going to be the 1st country to turn off their FM radio system, however, the people are not happy about it, with almost 60% of the country voting against the movement. Many other countries signify that this move seems to be one that many countries will follow suit in the future.
Type of Article: Informational based. I see this as informational based, because although there may be the problem of Norwegians being mad about the switch, a lot of value is provided in an informational context with how other countries feel this way, and the original motive to do so.
Business Idea: An FM to digital merge company. This business would handle the dismantling of the FM business model, and transform it into the new age model. This would involve the usual talk and radio shows being hosted on podcast channels that are becoming increasingly popular. A proper website to listen to the podcasts and the content that would originally be shared on the FM channel could be established for them as well.
3. Headline: Metro Vancouver’s first virtual reality lounge opens its doors
Summary: In Vancouver, BC, a virtual reality lounge has opened for business. It is the first of its kind in this city, and they are excited about this opportunity. However, the founders realize the key risks involved. Virtual reality adoption in the home is one huge risk, as well as the risk of this technology potentially dying off in four to five years.
Type of article: Informational based: No real problem is present except for the problems the business may face. Mainly this is a well-written press release designed to inform you about this business.
Business idea: Do you see the potential for a VR lounge in your city or community? With VR becoming more popular, so may the popularity of these lounges. Basing your business off of existing businesses that have already tested the viability of the model is a great way to access potential markets.
4. Headline: Calgary Detached House Prices Expected to Stabilize in 2017
Summary: The Calgary housing market suffered a terrible downturn a couple years ago when the price of oil dropped dramatically to around $20 a barrel. Due to thousands of layoffs in the city and surrounding areas, real estate prices plummeted as people could not keep up with mortgage payments and were forced to leave. Finally, the Calgary housing market has seemed to find a bottom and is beginning to pick back, with prices stabilizing.
Type of Article: Informational Based: Although a problem does exist regarding a bad economic landscape in Calgary, this article seems to provide most its value through the information. Specifically, because it has valuable statistics, and links to the annual forecast of the CREB (which would be purely informational).
Business idea: Property Management Company. If you have been thinking about starting a real-estate investment business, Calgary would be a perfect place to investigate for possible investment opportunities. My opinion is that due to the previous instability, more people than before have become tenants instead of homeowners. This provides you with the possible potential to start a Property Management company that may provide a great return on investment over the years, and a solid tenancy base for renting.
5. Headline: Hemp hits new high as building material on Dutch bridge.
Summary: Dutch academic researchers have made a hemp-based material that is called a biocomposite material as an alternative, to substances like concrete and asphalt. One of the key benefits of the material is that it can be made from recycled materials like plant fibers. This team of Dutch researchers has also managed to build a bridge that can bear a load up to 500 kg per square meter, quite a bit of weight!
Type of Article: Informational based: This article is informational based because they do not provide you with insight into a problem this material can solve.
Business Idea: Environmental Implementation Consulting business. With the recent changes in the Trump Administration’s concerns on climate change, some Americans (mainly in the democratic states) may appreciate the businesses they support taking climate change seriously. This may open the door for consulting with businesses on how they can lessen their carbon footprint, and market that to their customers. People may see the importance of supporting a business that is trying to help the environment, regardless of rules and regulation. This material could be a huge part of designing green spaces for businesses.
Now that you have seen how to think of business ideas from small and big world events, you will need to practice this mindset to master it. You can download my exercise to get you started since this can be a daunting task in the beginning, and it is in pdf so you can take it wherever you go. I include some sample business models, and industries to help you along the way.
To conclude, this business idea generation exercise is made up of three different basics steps for beginners, and starts with:
Step 1 – The News Hunt
In this step, you find reputable news sources that you can use to find information and problems in. You’ll then narrow down your search by choosing a news source and an industry you are interested in. Finally, finishing this step by choosing 5 to 10 news articles that you want to move forward with.
Step 2 – Determining the Type of Article
In step 2, we determine the type of article it is. Either informational or problematic. This will help us decide how to use the information being presented so we can think of the best business ideas for each article.
Step 3 – Solution Brainstorming
Once you have the set of articles and have identified what type they are, it’s time to either brainstorm solutions to those problems presented or use the information in the article to create value for a certain group of people.
So what are you waiting for? You’ve got a great process to move forward with and develop great business ideas.