Mastering the Art of Ideation

The creation of novel and sustainable businesses is the most important element of entrepreneurship in a world of constant change. From the seasoned entrepreneur to the new startup enthusiast, conceptualising your ideas can make or break your business.

So what drives business success?

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

You might be asking yourself – what exactly does ideation mean?

Well, in short it is the creative process to develop new ideas. But not just cool ideas, actual solutions for real problems.

And this is what drives business success at its core. If you manage to solve real problems with solutions that truly address pain points.

How do approach this concept of ideation?

So you had a drink with a friend recently and somewhere in the conversation, this famous line dropped:

“We should totally do [THIS]!!”

(Cue: How I Met Your Mother if you’re also a fan!)


This is not a bad start, all ideas have to be conceptualised at some point. But one of the fundamental steps in the ideation process is having regular brainstorming sessions with fellow enthusiasts or someone who is wiling to act as a soundboard.

These sessions serve as a platform for exploring various perspectives, encouraging creativity, and generating a bunch of different ideas. Whether it’s a solo brainstorming session or a collaborative effort with a team, setting aside dedicated time to brainstorm allows you to tap into your creative energy and explore new, funky or perhaps unconventional solutions.

Popular tools for idea refinement: Mind maps and SWOT analysis

Once you’ve generated a pool of ideas, it’s important to refine them and rank your ideas. Tools like mind maps and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis provide structured frameworks for organising your thoughts and identifying the most promising ideas. It’s not a guarantee but it guides you nonetheless. Mind maps allow you to visually map out connections between ideas or thought processes, while a SWOT analysis helps you evaluate each idea’s feasibility and potential for success. It’s easy to overlook the value of these tools though, especially if you’re a typical visionary and don’t like to be bogged down by the practical side of the idea. Find some free templates to use HERE.

Validation of your ideas through market research and competitor analysis

Here, I’ll be honest. I really dread the effort that is needed for market research and especially a competitor analysis. We see new businesses pop up every day and you will inevitably ask yourself “Have all of these people gone through the steps I am taking now?”. And the answer is NO. They haven’t.

They might have taken 5 steps less before they got their big break. They might have taken 15 more. They might have gotten lucky with a viral post that put them on the map. Or they have built another business which means they had a captive audience they could sell a new business to. Just think about the PRIME drink that created such hype in South Africa when it landed in Checkers for only R39.


Having never tasted it, I was blown away by the popularity and sales for a drink that everyone agreed tasted really bad for the most part. So why was it such a success? Well, Logan Paul who is part of the team, has a following of over 23 million people on YouTube alone. He only needs to have a 1% loyal fanbase and he has a business on his hands with 230 000 thousand customers straight away. Us mere mortals would not get anywhere if we had to try and sell the (apparently) bad-tasting Prime on our own.

Ideas, no matter how brilliant, must undergo proper validation to ensure their viability in the market. Conducting thorough market research (this means going out and asking your potential customers what their problems are) and competitor analysis (researching what solutions already exists) enables you to assess the demand for your product or service. You can detect weaknesses and gaps via collecting consumer insights and understanding market dynamics. Furthermore, you will be able to evaluate/benchmark/validate your ideas against available data and improve them based upon actual data and feedback.

Dive into Case Studies

Provided with actionable approaches, aspiring entrepreneurs should have a supply of practical tools and methods for constructive thinking and developing their ideas. Don’t underestimate how much can be accomplished by adopting a creative mindset and applying ideation tools. Using real-life case studies of successful startups built from the ground up are not only serving as inspiration, but can provide a lot of insight and guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs. This doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise either. Free resources are available on Google, and hundreds of books are available. Just from the top of my head, these books come to mind that I have read or listened to on Audible:

  • Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and why the Rest Don’t – Verne Harnish
  • Sell Like Crazy: How to Get As Many Clients, Customers and Sales As You Can – Sabri Suby
  • The Lean Startup – by Eric Ries
  • Do Epic Shit – Ankur Warikoo The 6 habits of growth – Brendon Burchard
  • Atomic Habits – James Clear

Innovation is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship, and mastering the art of ideation is the first step toward building a successful business.

Are you stuck in the ideation phase? Find out how I can help HERE.

Why Startups are in SUCH a good position to succeed RIGHT NOW

If you stick around, I’ll dive a bit deeper with the use of a case study. Because we always want to know how others fail so we learn from them and don’t repeat their mistakes, right? (Unless of course it’s Facebook and you just want to see if your predictions about Richard and Jessica being losers in high school were spot on).

But the case study I’m on about is not how Kodak failed to get onboard with digitisation of photography – we all know about it in some or other way. Read HERE if you want to know more about this story.

But the situation they were in is pretty similar to the one we are in today. The problem that big companies are facing is not whether their products are successful or how fast they are growing. All of that can change in a heartbeat. The problem they face is their ability to innovate and stay relevant.

And in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, startups are often seen as pioneers of innovation and agility. Their ability to pivot quickly in response to market changes and emerging trends sets them apart from your traditional corporates. As A.I continues to reshape industries and redefine business operations, startups are uniquely positioned to leverage AI to boost operations and tap into exponential growth.

Startups are the absolute champions of agility

At the heart of every successful startup lies a culture of agility and adaptability. Unlike large businesses burdened by institutional processes and legacy systems, startups operate with far fewer boundaries and red tape. They have the freedom to experiment, adapt, and pivot when needed. This agility enables startups to jump onto emerging opportunities, respond quickly to customer feedback, and stay ahead of the curve.

Introducing the failing business operations of Uber in South Africa (SA)

If you’re not from SA, I’d be really interested to know how Uber is doing in your local setting though.

But as for their operations in SA, if you haven’t been stuck for at least 45 minutes calling and waiting on an Uber recently, are you even in South Africa? Except perhaps in Cape Town city bowl, or larger cities. The further away you move from hustling urban areas, the more likely you are to be stranded.

Just Google “is Uber failing in South Africa” and you will have your answer right there, here is an article to kick you off.

But the main reasons for the ongoing failure of this well-known startup and success story can be summarised as follows:

From the media:

  • Failure to ensure the safety of passengers. People are getting robbed and cars are in unroadworthy conditions
  • Long waiting times and frequent cancellations of drivers
  • Drivers are unhappy about the low rates
  • Driving on empty petrol tanks and needing to fill up during rides
  • Dirty cars with no air conditioning
  • Scams from Uber drivers accepting trips but not arriving, having the passengers cancel and pay cancellation fees

From my personal interaction with Uber drivers recently:

  • Drivers’ safety is also endangered. They frequently get robbed, and duped out of money on cash drives (the passenger suddenly “realises” they don’t have money on them when they reach the destination)
  • Not to mention all the taxi strikes and attacks on Uber drivers. Besides the ill logic behind these attacks, as taxi drivers and Uber drivers generally do NOT share the same target audience locally, this is a huge concern for Uber drivers
  • The low rates compared with ‘new features’ such as priority rides which negatively impact them. Priority rides are meant to ensure a passenger doesn’t get stuck as no new rides are allowed to be picked up by the drivers in the vicinity until that particular passenger is picked up. But due to low fares, Uber drivers don’t want to take these rides and merely just switch off their availability and the frustrated passenger watches as cars disappear one by one off the screen, leaving them stranded in any case
  • Also due to low fares – short distance rides are not picked up. You want to go to the airport? No problem. Hop in. You need to pick up your car from the service 6km away? Good luck bro, it’s not going to happen.

I can continue with the list, but let’s dive into why Uber does not seem to get out of this downward spiral.

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