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How to Spot Trends and Find Viable Business Ideas (Part 1)

Last time we talked about some of the leading trends in today’s marketplace. Today we’ll discuss some of the specific ways you can come up with your own “off the grid” product ideas. I started my company, Solutions From Science, with just one product. Since then, we’ve grown our line to dozens of products, and we’re always adding more into the mix. People often ask me how I come up with so many new ideas; today I’m going to give you an insider’s look into how I do just that.

My secret to coming up with a great business idea is based on one simple practice: be a good listener. It may sound obvious, but it’s something many would-be entrepreneurs miss: to know what your customer base wants to buy, listen to them. You can’t be everywhere all the time, so make use of the “hearing aids” that today’s technology gives you.

Hearing Aid #1: The Internet
Use the Internet to observe trends, find key markets, and closely follow ideas that are currently working for other businesses. When you go online, pay attention to what’s popular. Look at websites that reflect the interest of your possible product. For example, if you’re thinking about selling a homeschool curriculum, make sure you’re checking out blogs, forums, and websites that homeschoolers frequently visit.

Take a close look at the advertising on each website. The banners near the top of the page in particular yield valuable market information. When you spot an ad banner that stays put over a long period of time, you can assume that particular product is selling quite well.

Hearing Aid #2: Social Media
If the Internet is the world’s theater of today, social media is your front row seat. People talk about what’s important to them, and social media is a way for you to eavesdrop on those conversations. The biggest benefit of social media is that it functions completely in real-time. You can identify what’s hot, right now.

Facebook has become a social media phenomenon. In just a few short years, Facebook has gone from a college photo-sharing site to a huge business platform. According to socialmediaexaminer.com, the average American spends seven hours a month on Facebook alone. Spending time viewing “likes” on Facebook could turn into a huge bank of ideas for your home business.

Twitter is another excellent way to use social media as an idea-building tool. Trending topics are constantly changing lists of what people are talking about at any given moment. Twitter is increasingly popular in the business world because it is quick, easy, and virtually painless to use. In just a few clicks you’re reading what everyone is talking about. Best of all? Both Facebook and Twitter are free to use.

Hearing Aid #3: eBay
Large businesses and mega-corporations have entire departments devoted to gathering and analyzing sales trends. Most small businesses have precious few dollars to spend in this area. Almost any product or service that you want to market has been put up for auction on eBay in some shape or form. Because thousands of different items are sold each day on eBay, you have access to a large database of trends right at your fingertips.

First, begin by studying completed auctions. Ended auctions tell you exactly which items sold and which items did not. By doing so, you will also be able to track the final selling price. eBay is easy to use. All you have to do is complete a free registration to begin.

Hearing Aid #4: Google Keyword Tool
Another business tool that is rising in popularity is the new and improved Google keywords tool. You can find this tool by going to https://adwords.google.com. Once you sign in with your Google account, you can begin to track trends by using search results. Simply enter a word or phrase and Google will pull up all the various searches related to your phrase. You can sort the results by popularity, region, and more.

For example, if you’re planning on selling grandma’s homemade wool scarves, you could type in the phrase “wool scarves.” Google will automatically pull up each related search keyword. Everything from “silk scarves” to “scarves for women” may appear. Then, you can filter your results to see exactly what people are searching for online.

I encourage you to take some time right now and explore these techniques. Try out each of these great online business tools, and see how you can make them work for your own business. Next time: I’ll reveal even more ways to spot viable ideas for your “off the grid” business.

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