How to come up with entrepreneurial winning ideas


Some of us are born with an entrepreneurial bent or personality but the environment we grow up in or live in can be a key stimulus and motivator to develop and activate the skill of becoming entrepreneurial. The statement that necessity is the motherhood of invention is true particularly for entrepreneurial people.

It’s our survival streak that’s the difference why some people simply quit whilst others refuse to quit and dig deep and are energised by thinking outside the nine dots. The great Walt Disney was facing bankruptcy when he came up with the idea of Mickey Mouse. That stroke of genius saved his business in the nick of time.

Entrepreneurs invariably start by enrolling in the school of hard knocks. The good news is entrepreneurial skills can be learnt but you will need to sign up for what will be lots of practical painful trial and error – and indeed failures  – which will all become part of the learning curve in becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Here are some winning ideas I learnt along the way of building numerous startups including commercial businesses and more recently in setting up a not for profit:

Being prepared to do things others are not prepared to 

At age 23 I was in a class of 20 students training to become an insurance salesman. I was shocked at the end of the two-week induction course that there were only three of us left!

The others didn’t leave because of poor sales or presentation skills or product knowledge it was because the 3 of us who remained were the only ones prepared to daily commit to making a set amount of cold calls. Mastering the art of the cold calling enabled me a couple of years later to top the company’s sales figures.

Work in areas where there is little competition

Start by testing the waters in several different markets. You will soon be able to analyse where you get the best results. Logically that’s where you should put most of your energy.

Become a specialist rather than a generalist

Keep practicing and tweaking in a specific target market you are successful and enjoy working in. Aim to know that market inside out and become the expert in that target market. Specialists always are the more sought after and earn the most.

Have a BIG and clear vision and BIG goals 

This will force you to think about big solutions or ideas to achieve them. This challenged us to find a creative ways to accelerate growing our business and set up an Australia wide franchised financial planning business (which was a new concept back then) with 65 offices rather than simply 3 fully owned offices in Tasmania.

 Adopt the principle of “Constancy of Purpose” 

If something does not help in achieving you vision or mission don’t chew up valuable time and resources pursuing opportunities outside of this. Anything that takes you away from your stated goal will put you further behind. Saying no to distractions becomes much easier with a vision in mind.

Find a partner and be open to not owning 100 per cent of the company shares

Whilst it’s not essential it will greatly increase the odds of successful starting and successfully getting a new venture off the ground if you have a complimentary partner or at very least a high-level compatible teammate.

For me it has been true in the many businesses I have built. To have someone to cover my weakness and in fact excel in key parts of business has been critical success factor. In relation to shareholding do the simple maths, it’s better to own say 30 per cent of a $50 million business than owning 100 per cent of a $500K business!

It’s OK to become a copycat

There is an old saying there is nothing new under the sun. Often we are too proud to simply say I copied or so liked what someone else did that I think I can do something similar. It creates opportunity to improve someone else’s idea. Most of us are not and don’t need to become inventors. Inventors are not necessarily entrepreneurs.

These ideas on their own may seem ordinary but they are powerful when you apply them simultaneously – that’s when extraordinary results will happen, especially if you add in vital ingredients all successful entrepreneurs have – drive, belief, passion and positivity –  which draws others to back and help turn your idea into reality.

John Sikkema is a Philanthropist, Thought Leader, Entrepreneur, author of ‘Enriched’ re-defining wealth and Executive Chairman of Halftime Australia, inspiring leaders to live their life purpose now.

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