Generate Business Ideas That Matter: A Building Block Approach

Here’s the harsh truth for aspiring entrepreneurs: Most business ideas already exist.

At least once, and in variations, even 10 times. No matter whether we talk about books, social networks, apps, or YouTube-cat videos.

But how come most business ideas already exist? Two major reasons are quickly found:

Creation is easy nowadays: There are blog platforms that can be used by anyone, video cameras on every cell phone, and app builders for non-programmers. Any average human with a small amount of drive can build something valuable in a relatively short time period.

Human existence is limited: We all live similar lives, and consequently, face the same problems. This is especially the case in today’s globalized world, where differences between countries and cultures disappear steadily. One look at the current iTunes app store says enough. 13 of the Top 20 apps are centered around social media, images, and games.

So far, so good. Now let’s assume your business idea already exists. What’s the solution?

Common business advice says that you should do it anyway and compete with current providers. You could build a better service than everyone else. You could build an easier product or create a superior design.

There are enough examples where this approach has worked perfectly. After all, there have been social networks before Facebook, and Amazon hasn’t been the first bookstore on the internet.

A New Type Of Business Ideas Emerges

Don’t get it wrong, competing with existing products and services can work. As long as you are passionate about it, you can win.

But at the same time, this approach is limited. So what if I told you that there’s an easy way to find profitable and creative business ideas?

I call it the building block method. Business ideas, which are based on this method will be called building block ideas. You will find out in a minute why I choose these names.

This method is based on one important premise:

There are already enough product & services in the market

There is more than enough stuff out there to be productive, smart, fit, beautiful, and organized. No matter whether we talk about books, information products, services, software, or podcasts.

But this sheer amount of products and services leads to a totally new generation of problems:

  • How do I find the right notebook according to my needs?
  • Can I trust this information source?
  • How can I connect my apps?
  • How do current cell phones differ in terms of features?
  • In which order shall I apply these fitness tips to lose 20 pounds?
  • Which online course helps me the most to learn this new programming language?

The building block method acknowledges the fact that customers already suffer from information overload, oversupply, and complexity. So instead of flooding markets with new products and services, it takes on a different perspective – How to connect existing things?

With this method, you look at current products and services as building blocks. And then ask yourself: How can I combine these building blocks to build new solutions?

Examples Of Building Block Ideas

Building block ideas do already exist. And they are getting more and more important in a world full of overabundance and information overload. Let’s look at current examples:

Problem 1 – There are too many images on the web

Solution: Pinterest is an online sharing platform for images. It solves the problem of visual content curation by enabling users to group images across the web into visual boards. This provides an easy way to save, share and discover images in one single place. Users can share anything on Pinterest – recipes, fashion styles, inspirational quotes or blog articles. Besides that, Pinterest is a great tool for online marketing.

Problem 2 – I can’t connect my web apps

Solution: Zapier is a software platform that connects your web apps to automate daily tasks. Zapier is based on the building block method because it literally connects the data of your apps. One simple automation could be: If I get an email in Gmail, upload it on Dropbox, and inform me about this on Slack. The cool thing about Zapier is that it’s very easy to build your own automation tasks. You don’t need programming skills. If you want to get inspired, have a look at these great examples.

Problem 3 – It’s hard to find the right website builder according to my needs

Solution: SitebuilderReport is a website that helps you to find the right website builder. Every website builder is presented with all its features, strengths, weaknesses and target market. The business idea may be easy but solves the painful problem of choosing between hundreds of website builders. SitebuilderReport makes money by affiliate commissions.

How To Design Your Own Building Block Ideas

The question that arises is this: How to come up with these kinds of ideas?

Generating building block ideas is no magic. On the contrary, they’re easier to find than typical run-of-the-mill-products because you know what you are looking for.

Thus, apply these three simple steps to reverse engineer your own building block ideas:

1) Select A Market

First, you have to pick a market. This will be the environment in which you will be applying the building block method. As an example, we’ll choose WordPress as a market.

2) Identify the Building Blocks

Now it’s time to analyze your chosen market. First, we scan for building blocks.

If you played Lego as a child, you know that Lego bricks have different shapes, forms, and colors. Within the context of the business world, the Lego bricks (building blocks) represent the different types of solutions (products, services, technologies, …) within a market.

So what are the building blocks of the WordPress market? With the help of Google, Fiverr and Quora, my search efforts lead to these results:

  • Themes: Astra, Ocean WP, Avada, Hestia
  • Plugins: Jetpack, Askimet, Yoast SEO, Total Cache
  • Information provider: wpbeginner.com, chrislema.com, wparena.com
  • Courses: udemy.com, lynda.com, teamtreehouse.com
  • CRMs: MailChimp, Salesforce, AWeber, ConvertKit
  • Hosting provider: Bluehost, Siteground, WPEngine, Dreamhost
  • Consulting gigs: customization, migration, sales funnel, malware removal, Google analytics
  • Niches: E-Commerce, Communities, Landing Pages, Restaurants, Startups

3) Build New Solutions

Now it’s time to come up with new solutions. How to go about it?

Pick at least two random building blocks, either building block types (Themes, Plugins, …) or actual blocks (Astra, Ocean WP, Jetpack, … ).

Now you try to connect these two blocks by applying connection-patterns. To achieve this, think in terms of:

  • Integration
  • Processes
  • Curation
  • Platforms
  • Comparison
  • Search

All these structures are in some way “building bridges“.

Applying the Building Block Method

Here’s how the application of this method could look like:

1) “Consulting gigs” + “Restaurants” + Search pattern

One solution could be a search engine that lists WordPress consulting gigs for restaurants. Services could include theme design, sales funnels optimization, or Google Analytics installation – all tailored to the needs of restaurants.

2) “Bluehost” + “Siteground” + “WP-Engine” + Comparison pattern

This one is obvious – an information product which compares WordPress hosting provider in regard to performance, reliability, and customer support. Of course, this kind of solution already exists. But try to niche this idea down. What about comparing WordPress hosting providers for small startups?

3)“Plugins” + “CRMs” + Integration pattern

One existing solution is the successful WordPress plugin WP Fusion. It integrates dozens of WordPress plugins with leading CRMs,  and marketing automation platforms.

Apparently, the presented examples are raw and have to be refined. This can be achieved through market research and validation techniques. For example, you could refine your idea by applying the Meatgrinder concept of Tyler Tringas. It’s a practical way to eliminate bad ideas in a matter of minutes.

Bottom Line

As you have probably noticed, there are endless opportunities to create building block ideas.

Another advantage of building block ideas is the fact that they build on existing structures. Structures that have already been proven by real markets. Thus, you decrease the chance of building a useless product. If somebody needs product A and product B, there’s a huge chance he needs the integration of these two products.

Lastly, the more time passes, the more stuff gets created. This is why the building block method gets more valuable over time. There’s no need to anticipate new products and services because the foundation for great business ideas already exists.  So, in that sense, don’t be a pioneer, but boring instead. Connect existing things, and win effortlessly.