These are some great questions.
As an entrepreneur, growing and scaling my business has been both a challenging and rewarding task. I'll answer both your questions separately:
1. How should you decide which business idea to pursue?
Your decision should take into account both personal factors and should have regard to your environment, your market and your resources.
From a personal perspective, choose an industry which (1) you are passionate about and (2) you have knowledge/experience in. This will considerably reduce your risk of failure. As a startup founder, you will find your job to be extremely challenging and the only way to succeed is through resilience. If you are not passionate, you will easily give up. Having the knowledge and expertise of your industry will not only give you more gravitas but also save you lots of time in research and understanding the wants and needs of your customer.
From a larger perspective - ensure your business solves a problem that is large enough to build a profitable business out of.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions to help you get there:
1. What is your intended customer base? It is harder to target a broad and general audience - try to establish a niche customer base which needs your products and/or services.
2. What problem does your service/product solve? Identifying a problem and providing a solution is the heart of every innovative idea.
3. How can you add value to the product and customer experience? Your customers need to gain benefit from purchasing your goods/services.
4. What are the most unusual characteristics of your business which will give you competitive advantage on the market? Establishing yourself in the market means you need some advantage over your competitors to attract their customers or new ones.
5. Have you researched your competition? In what ways do you feel you can do better than the competition? You need to know who are you facing to understand your market share, and how can you provide better solutions.
6. Do you have access to all the resources you need to launch the business? This includes funding, manpower, premises, equipment etc.
7. What is the size of the market? Do your research!
8. What would it take to create a minimum viable product and test it on the market? You don’t need a finished product to launch, start small and test your ideas.
9. What will it take to make profit? You need to have at least some estimated financial projections as to what you need to spend and what you need to earn in order to break even and then make a profit.
10. Is the problem you are trying to solve on the top priority list of the potential customers? Important consideration to see whether your products will sell.
11. What is your business model? How do you plan on charging your customers, how do your competitors do it, can you create additional revenue streams?
12. Is there a potential for growth? Think in the long term, can you scale the business further?
13. What are the possible roadblocks you are likely to face? You should attempt to find a solution for each problem you can think of.
14. Have you chosen a business name? Make sure that your name is descriptive of the branding and targets your customers. Ask people their input - choosing a name is an important matter as it will affect the rest of your branding.
15. Have you looked for your business name online? Ensure that no other business can be confused with yours. Ensure that the domain name and all social media accounts for your business name are available.
I hope this answers your first question.
2. How do I decide which direction to invest my energy in and how can I develop my idea further?
This will come to you much more clearly once you have found the answers to your first question. Ensure that you are spending your time in a way that produces results. Your first goal is to bring your MVP, to test it amongst customers, to learn from feedback and then to improve your product. Repeat this formula until you reach product market fit.
I hope this helps - please don't hesitate to get on a call with me if you'd like to drill this down further.