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Entrepreneurship and innovation: Ideas and opportunities for startups

29 Nov
Group of young businesspeople discussing roadmap to business launch.

Entrepreneurship drives economic growth and shapes the future.1 Disruptive technologies continue to shake up the status quo in the 21st century. Innovative people with the ability to identify opportunities and execute ideas effectively are propelling the world economy into new stages that will potentially change humanity's trajectory for decades or even centuries to come.

In addition to bringing much-needed innovation to the global marketplace, entrepreneurs are responsible for a significant amount of value in the world economy. In fact, small to medium-sized enterprises–SMEs–and the entrepreneurs who lead them account for 55% of GDP in developed countries. More than 90% of businesses worldwide are SMEs, employing half the world's population.2

However, there's a lot to learn on the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

In this article, we'll delve into entrepreneurship, methods for generating startup ideas that offer innovation opportunities, and raising funds through venture capital and angel investors to support growth strategies for your innovative ideas.

Introduction to entrepreneurship and business innovation

Entrepreneurship refers to the process of identifying and pursuing opportunities to create and manage new businesses or ventures. Entrepreneurs are individuals who take the initiative to innovate, organize resources, and take risks in order to bring their ideas to life and achieve success in the business world.

Innovation is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. What that means is to succeed you should develop and implement creative ideas, products, services, and processes that add value or improve existing solutions.

Innovation is vital for businesses to survive in today's competitive landscape.3 It helps businesses adapt to change, fosters growth, and separates a business from its competition.

Identifying startup opportunities

According to world-renowned consulting firm McKinsey, the three main elements are knowing your who, what, and how.3 Let's explore this further.

  • The who: Identify the customers and what pain points they need to be addressed
  • The what: Pinpoint how to solve these pain points and fill gaps in the market in a compelling and executable way
  • The how: Create a business model canvas that generates value

The first step in identifying the who, what, and how before generating startup ideas is to do a market analysis that'll help you understand your market, its needs, and any gaps you can fill.4

Idea generation and innovation strategies

The word innovation is often used interchangeably with creativity, and that's precisely what you'll need to create an innovative business idea. Here are a few techniques for creating business ideas and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset:


As the go-to first step for idea generation, brainstorming encourages free-flowing idea generation that helps lead to unexpected and creative concepts.


Identify pain points that you, your family, or your friends often experience and need to be solved. From there, you can devise ways to solve these pain points and form a business around that.

Lean startup methodology

This focuses on quickly building a minimum viable product–MVP–to test hypotheses and gather customer feedback. Focusing on MVP means developing the most basic version of a product or service containing only essential features to test its viability and gather feedback from early adopters.

Once you decide on a business idea through brainstorming and problem-solving, finding a way to test your idea will be essential for refining it to become as viable as possible.

Market research and validation

Before moving forward at a full pace, you'll want to conduct market research and validate your startup concept. You can do this by creating customer personas, analyzing market trends, and conducting a SWOT analysis–you'll need to determine what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats your startup will face.

From there, creating a minimum viable product will help you understand your viability by offering it to potential customers and then engaging with your audience through surveys and interviews to gather feedback.5

Building a strong value proposition

A value proposition is a concise statement that communicates the unique benefits and value your product, service, or solution offers to your target audience. Your value proposition should pinpoint the specific benefits and advantages that your product or service offers that differentiate your business from the competition's.6

Your value proposition will be as unique as your business, but you'll likely want to start with some of these steps:

Identify unique benefits and highlight key features

Determine what you provide that sets you apart and showcase the benefits that you can supply to your customers.

Address pain points

From your research, you should understand your consumers' pain points. Your value proposition should directly address how it solves your audience's needs.

Define your unique selling proposition

This is a distinct element or feature that sets your product or service apart from the rest of the market.

Business model development

Business models serve as the blueprint for how businesses operate, and 21st-century innovation has led to an upheaval of traditional business models.7

To develop a modern business model that's sustainable and scalable, you'll need to:

  • Diversify your revenue source by not relying on a single product, service, or customer segment
  • Utilize technology to scale your business using automation
  • Balance your costs and pricing strategy to maximize profit while also maintaining competitiveness and product quality
  • Identify partnerships that can help your business grow in a competitive market

A sustainable and scalable business model requires planning, so it's imperative to learn as much about various business models as possible to discover what's right for your business.

Fundraising and financial planning

Startups require considerable upfront funding to get your business organized and moving. Let's explore a few ways for you to fund your startup.

Venture capital

You may want to use venture capital, which involves raising funds from professional investment firms in exchange for equity–ownership–in your startup.

Angel investors

On a similar note, you can look into finding angel investors. These are individuals, rather than investment firms, who provide capital to startups in exchange for equity.


If neither of those appeals, or they aren't practical as you work on your launch, you can consider funding your startup by bootstrapping. This is when you fund your startup by yourself with money from your savings or by other personal means.

Startup accelerators

Regardless of your funding source, you may want to look into participating in a startup accelerator program, which will connect you with additional resources to streamline your startup's progression. Depending on the program, you may be able to find additional funding or investors, have expenses met, or gain important networking opportunities.8

Marketing and growth strategies

Launching a successful startup isn't only about the product or service. A successful startup needs a marketing plan that utilizes research and creativity to reach audiences and convince them to purchase.

In the modern market, digital advertising is a critical form of marketing.9 This includes email marketing, search engine optimization, social media advertising, and other advertising strategies that utilize the internet to reach consumers.

Customer acquisition and retention will also be fundamental to your startup's growth and sustainability. Learning how to refine your marketing strategies, optimize new customer onboarding processes, and create a top-notch customer service department will help your startup thrive.

Digital marketing strategies for startups

Understanding and utilizing various digital marketing services can be a game changer in reaching and engaging your target audience.

Here are some key strategies:

Embrace social media marketing

Utilizing social media platforms effectively is non-negotiable for a successful business. From organic engagement to paid advertising, social media offers a myriad of opportunities to connect with potential customers, build brand awareness, and drive traffic to your website.

Implement SEO tactics

For any online business ideas, visibility on search engines is vital. Investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) improves your website's ranking, making it more likely to be discovered by those searching for your products or services.

Engage in high-quality content marketing

Quality content is the backbone of digital marketing. Whether it's blog posts, videos, or infographics, providing valuable, relevant content can attract and retain a clearly defined target market, ultimately driving profitable customer action.

How to maximize startup growth with digital marketing services

In the context of startups and entrepreneurship, several digital marketing services can be extremely beneficial. These services help in reaching the target audience, building brand awareness, and driving growth. Here is a closer look at some of the key digital marketing services that can be useful:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This service focuses on improving a website's visibility in search engine results. It involves optimizing website content and structure to rank higher for relevant keywords, thereby increasing organic traffic.
  2. Social media marketing: This involves promoting a brand, products, or services on various social media platforms. It includes creating and sharing content, engaging with followers, and running targeted advertising campaigns.
  3. Content marketing: Content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. This can include blog posts, videos, infographics, and other types of content that provide value to potential customers.
  4. Email marketing: Email marketing involves sending targeted and personalized messages to a segmented audience via email. This service can be used for nurturing leads, announcing new products or services, and keeping customers engaged with the brand.
  5. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: PPC is a model of internet marketing where advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. It's a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.
  6. Influencer marketing: Partnering with influencers to promote products or services can be beneficial. Influencers have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche, which can be leveraged to gain credibility and reach a wider audience.
  7. Affiliate marketing: This involves promoting products or services through affiliates who receive a commission for every sale or lead they generate. It's a performance-based approach that can help expand reach and sales.
  8. Online reputation management: Online reputation management covers managing and influencing the public perception of an organization or individual online. This includes monitoring and responding to customer feedback on various digital platforms.
  9. Web analytics: Using tools like Google Analytics to track and analyze website traffic is a part of web analytics. This helps in understanding user behavior, which can inform marketing strategies and website improvements.
  10. Mobile marketing: Reaching customers through mobile devices via SMS, email, websites, and apps is involved in mobile marketing. With the increasing use of smartphones, mobile marketing is crucial for engaging customers on the go.
  11. Video marketing: Great video marketing involves creating and leveraging video content to promote a brand, product, or service. Videos can be used on various platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, various other social media platforms, and company websites.
  12. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): Improving the website to increase the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form, is a key aspect of CRO.

Integrating these digital marketing services can help startups effectively reach and engage their target audience, build brand recognition, and drive business growth.

The art of crafting profitable business ideas

For entrepreneurs, generating profitable business ideas is both an art and a science. It involves a deep understanding of market needs and creative thinking. Here's how to develop great business ideas:

Identify market gaps

Look for unmet needs or unsolved problems in your chosen field. A great startup idea often comes from finding a gap in the market and figuring out how to fill it.

Analyze consumer behavior

Understanding your potential customers is key. Conduct market research to gather insights into consumer behavior and preferences, which can inspire innovative and profitable business ideas.

Leverage emerging technologies

Incorporate new and emerging technologies like cloud technology into your business idea. This approach can help you stay ahead of the curve and create a business model with a competitive edge.

Transform your ideas into successful online ventures

Turning startup ideas into a thriving online business requires a well-thought-out business plan and an understanding of the digital landscape. Here are steps to consider:

Develop a robust business plan

Your business plan should detail how you intend to turn your startup idea into a successful business. It should include market analysis, business strategy, financial projections, and an operational plan.

Choose the right business model

Select a business model that suits your business idea. Whether it’s a subscription service, a freemium model, or a traditional retail setup, the right model can make a big difference in the success of your venture, especially for small business ideas.

Utilize online platforms and tools

As previously mentioned, utilizing online platforms and tools is a critical element of successful entrepreneurship for startups. From setting up an e-commerce store to offering online courses, the internet provides a plethora of platforms and tools that can help launch and grow your business with relatively low startup costs.

By integrating all of these aforementioned strategies and focusing on innovative startup ideas, entrepreneurs with the right business acumen can position themselves for success in today’s competitive world of digital entrepreneurship.

Empower your entrepreneurial journey with knowledge: Join KU's online MBA program

If you want to learn more about how to become a successful entrepreneur, the University of Kansas online MBA program is where your innovative journey begins.

KU’s top-ranked, flexible two-year MBA curriculum offers a comprehensive education that covers supply chain management, international business, managerial economics, and more.10

Contact a University of Kansas admissions outreach advisor today to find out how you can earn your advanced degree on your own time and while working to get your startup off the ground.