15 Culture Leaders Share Their Tips for Developing a Great Business Concept

For many people, the hardest part of starting a business is coming up with a concept. No matter how many ideas you might have on the back burner, choosing the right one to execute can feel intimidating.

This is especially true in the culture space, where the stakes are high and audiences are always looking for “the next big thing.” Below, 15 Rolling Stone Culture Council members shared some important tips to help you come up with a business idea you think will have a big cultural impact. Read on to get their recommendations and learn how to implement them for yourself.

Fill a Void in the Marketplace

The best ideas come from solving a problem, filling a void in the marketplace or something you are passionate about. We’ve seen so many creative solutions come out of the pandemic. Ideas that may not have been feasible before 2020 are now in the mainstream. So, don’t let impracticality hold you back, or the fact that it’s never been done before. – Jacquelynn Powers Maurice, JDP Rocks

Consider How It Will Enhance People’s Lives

The first question is whether the idea is a service or product that will enhance the lives of others, whether it’s a fun novelty item that brings joy to others or a service that helps people make life-changing decisions. Big or small, anything I invest in has to enhance the lives of others. The next question is what value you can bring to the idea and what value you can bring to implementation. – Lisa Song Sutton, Elite Homes Christie’s International Real Estate

Immerse Yourself in Culture

Immerse yourself in the culture surrounding the area your idea is wedged inside of. I’d pay close attention to the information exchanges, consumer sentiment and any data you can dig up or into. On top of that, I’d then layer in your feelings for all of the information you’re acquiring. Marrying an immersive experience with a data set supporting your concept is a great way to get started. – Rob Principe, Scratch Music Group, Inc.

Look at Customer Needs That Aren’t Being Served

One of the first steps to coming up with a business concept is to look at where there is a void or identify what problems need to be solved. Is there a particular customer that’s not being served? Is there something that exists that could be fine-tuned or improved upon? Where is the white space? It starts with the consumers and where there might be hunger and some sort of demand. – Nicole Plantin

Aim to Solve Your Own Problems

In my experience, the best ideas are the ones that solve a problem. If it’s your own problem, you’ll automatically know how to solve it best. The other way to ideate is to come up with solutions for things you wish existed. Chances are, if you have a problem with a product, other people will have the same problem too. If it’s a solution that is widely applicable, then you have a winner! – Catalina Girald, Naja

The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?

Vet Your Idea Before Releasing It Into the Universe

The idea creation is the easy part if you think about it. People have good ideas all the time. The way the idea shows up and is executed is the hard part. When I have an idea, I go through this checklist mentally before releasing it into the universe: How will this help people and who will this benefit? Why is this different? Why should this idea succeed? – Sarah Sebastian, Rose Gold Collective

Start With the ‘Why’

It’s cliche, but I start with the “why?” Question everything. Ask, “What if X?” and “How come?” constantly. A good business concept has a strong why, a strong purpose. I might study something in the marketplace, a habit or problem I observe in culture, and wonder what if it was flipped upside down? Why does this exist and who does it serve? It’s there where I start to deconstruct and reimagine. – Ryan Tomlinson, Language Media

Think About What You Want That Isn’t Currently Available

The first step to coming up with a business concept is to think about something that you would like to have in your life that isn’t being offered in the market. For us, it was a great-tasting nonalcoholic craft beer. Then, find a way to make that idea a reality. If it is something you are passionate about, that inspiration will help you build a company around your idea. – Donna Hockey, Surreal Brewing Company

Explore Areas Where You Can Make a Positive Change

Ask what you would most like to positively change, why you are the best suited to execute the change you so desire, and how your product or service can manifest this change at scale. I am a chef. Food is my agent of change. Food’s impact on the planet and human health is in crisis. Tender Greens was a piece of the solution to bring whole food, organic food, to everyone. – Erik Oberholtzer, Tender Greens / cohere

Find Solutions to Common Industry Problems

Create things people actually want and need by finding solutions to common industry problems. Simply interacting with others in the same space and asking them what their biggest pain points or challenges are is a great start. Learn about the problems first, then immerse yourself in discovering creative solutions. Those experiencing the problem will support you in creating a win-win for everyone. – Tyler ‘Jett’ Prescott, PennyFly Entertainment

Keep an Eye on Industry Signals and Patterns

Last week I learned from my friends that the virtual reality platform Rec Room is valued at $1.25 billion, and it’s not even five years old! Virtual reality is growing so rapidly that the VR market is expected to increase four times in just six years. Look for signals or patterns like these that are being used creatively. Then ask yourself: How can I use it in a way that no one else is doing yet? – Lynn Rosenthal, Periscape

Deeply Understand Your Target Consumer

Start with the consumer. By understanding which target markets are growing and have discretionary income, you define your audience. Then, get a deep and broad understanding of their wants, needs and habits. Great ideas fulfill specific and meaningful human desires and are unique trendsetters and industry transformers (rather than pack followers). Patience is key! – Nancy A Shenker, theONswitch & nunu ventures

See What Has Already Been Done

Look and see how that idea has already been executed in the space. The reason you want to do this is to identify all of the unlimited possibilities and opportunities that have not been exploited yet in that same space. In order to take an idea or concept to its maximum potential, you must see what others have done (and have simultaneously failed to capitalize on). – Andrew Rossow, The Guardian Project

Ask Around for Feedback

The first thing you should do is ask yourself if the idea has the tooling around it to make it happen. Do you have the right take to encourage those with the tools to join in on your endeavor? What problem are you solving for the public and culture? You may have utopia at the tips of your fingers, so just make sure you’re not sleeping. Discuss with trusted people and get feedback; don’t be defensive. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com

Identify a Clear Lane of Opportunity

Ask yourself how your idea can support or drive a cultural conversation and who the underserved audience is that it can address. Do the research and be thoughtful about your execution plan. You may be surprised to see the opportunities that present themselves. – Michael Klein, Miraculo Inc.

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