The best business startup ideas: Here’s how to find them

Startups often seem like the best way to overnight success – after all, who hasn’t heard of those overnight-millionaire stories? However, this is not a particularly good representation of startup life, that usually needs a lot of work and creativity to actually work. Nevertheless, being part of a startup could be exciting and enjoyable. If you also want in on the startup world, here is a guide on how to find a good startup idea and what is important when founding one.

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What is a startup?

Thinking about the word ‘startup’ already explains an important characteristic for this type of company. Startups are companies that have just been… well, started. They’re also highly innovative - many startup ideas have to do with digitalisation, sustainability, and tech topics. All areas where the potential for improvement and truly new things are great. Optimally, a startup’s business idea is not only innovative, but also scalable - meaning the potential for (rapid) growth is above average.

Another distinctive feature of startups is often noted in their capital, which is limited at the beginning. In order to actually bring an idea to market, sponsors or investors are often necessary. And since startup ideas are known for their great potential, they are also popular investment cases.

How to find the best startup ideas?

Sometimes there is a moment when you stumble upon an everyday problem and think ‘there must be a better way’. Admittedly, this rarely leads to the big startup companies. However, everyday life is sometimes useful as a starting point for ideas. If you want to take a more structured approach, there are many creativity and brainstorming methods that are suitable for collecting, structuring and finally prioritising startup ideas.

For example, you could use the following approaches for coming up with ideas:

  1. Optimisation potential: Look at existing business models and question where something can be done better, faster, or cheaper. This can mean, for example, streamlining supply chains.
  2. Meeting unmet needs: You may find yourself missing a product or service in the marketplace - or you may be researching what unresolved issues exist among companies and various customer groups.
  3. Identify trends: There are always overarching trends and developments in our society that require innovative ideas - current examples would be climate protection or social care.

Startup business ideas: Further possible ideas

If working on a completely original idea is not possible for you, there are other sources of inspiration:

  1. Take inspiration from the best. There are numerous platforms and articles presenting offline and online business ideas. A source of inspiration of a different kind is the “Startup Idea Matrix”, where you’ll find various industries and approaches to business models that are put into perspective and illustrated with examples.
  2. Take on an existing company: Sometimes there is the possibility to take over or join an existing company - there are also special platforms for this. Strictly speaking, these companies or the takeover are usually not startups, but this step can still be a starting point for something new.
  3. Franchise: If you not only lack your own idea, but also (still) have great respect for starting a business completely on your own, you can look around for franchise models. In this case, you benefit from an established business model, support during the startup process, and an already well-known brand - all you have to do is provide startup capital and pay fees to the franchisor. Here, too, innovation is limited, and classic startup ideas are rare.

Some of the best business startups: Examples and ideas

The following five examples of startup ideas show that sometimes to be extremely successful with an idea, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel:

  1. Blinkist: Developed in Germany, this startup provides the most important information from nonfiction books, guidebooks, and bestsellers in short or audio format. This innovative way of conveying knowledge in a compact format is gradually conquering the international market.
  2. Dropbox: In 2007, the idea for the cloud solution was born after one of the founders forgot his USB stick at home. Today, over 300 million data items are stored in Dropbox every day and the company is worth over $300 (£220) billion. OK, their startup phase is long gone now.
  3. AirBnB: AirBnB also started out small. It took a whole two years for the idea of the platform for private accommodation rentals to take off. Today, you can find over two million accommodation rentals, tours, and more in over 190 countries on AirBnB.
  4. Zappos: The world’s largest online shoe shop is now part of Amazon and is a prime example of what startup life can sometimes be like. At the beginning of his career, the founder took photos in shoe shops, posted them online and bought the shoes in the shop as soon as a customer bought them from him online. In this way, he found out step by step whether his idea of an online shop worked at all and which products were in demand.

You have written a business plan for an online shop and now you want to get going? Create your online shop with IONOS and use the Social Buy Button to add a buy function to your social networks as well.

How to recognise ideas for a start up

You don't lack ideas, but you are not sure if the idea is really good? There are some characteristics or points you can use when evaluating startup ideas.

First, consider which problems you are solving and to whom this solution is relevant. The higher the relevance (to your target audience), the better. Then evaluate whether and how easily an idea can be made real. Ideas that can be turned around quickly and already work on a small scale are ideal - in other words, you can quickly go to market and test your idea. After an initial test or feedback from your target group, you can develop your product or service further, test again, and thus constantly refine the offer.

Knowing what you’re doing helps. Having to outsource lots of your work takes time and money, and the best startups often have the required knowledge on their core team.

Once you have made an initial assessment of your idea, talk to friends and colleagues and gather feedback here as well. Sometimes a neutral view from the outside helps to get an objective view.

Turning the best business startups into reality

Once you have decided on an idea, it is time to get going! Use the advice from the previous paragraph to create a business model and a business plan. The business plan is important to put your idea to the theoretical test in detail and to convince investors. Besides the idea, important content of the business plan such as target group and market analysis, the evaluation of opportunities and risks, and a cost and investment plan are also required. If you are unsure about the structure of the plan, there is useful business plan software that will give you a framework.


There is a certain form of startup foundation, a lean startup, in which the smallest possible product of an idea is developed quickly and brought to market, tested, and further developed. For startup ideas of this type, business plans play a smaller role, since a lot end up developing over time. Use the plan here rather as a rough framework and ‘living’ document that is constantly changing and evolving (similar to your idea).

Once the plan is in place, take care of financing and the necessary paperwork, such as registering a trade, joining associations, and taking out insurance. Once these steps have been taken, you can start with the exciting things and the marketing of your idea.

An online presence is key

A web presence is a key sales and marketing tool, particularly for startups. Register your own domain to give a professional impression and create an appealing website right from the start. If you need to do this quickly, website builders such as IONOS My Website or Website Design Services can help you with getting things off the ground.

Still unsure whether you know everything you need to know to get started with your startup idea? In our guide on the topic ‘Start a Business’ ,we’ve described the individual steps in detail for you.

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