What are the best ways to think of ideas for a startup?


Most of mine come from being eternally curious about the world around me - questioning how things are done, why things are done a certain way.

Ideas tend to strike me when something happens that either makes me happy or excited (which I then want to make repeatable or shareable with the world) or when I see something that makes me sad, or angry (which I then want to make better, or eliminate or prevent).

It can be difficult to sit down with the intent to "have some ideas" which you could translate into startups.

The other thing to note - most of the ideas I come up with go into evernote - never to return. Why? Were they bad ideas, no not really, some are quite interesting. However, they aren't things that I have a strong interest in or a sustained passion for.

No matter what you do to generate your ideas - ensure that they line up with the things in life you can't do without - the things that you'd do even if it wouldn't make you any money.

Regardless of the quality of the idea - if you can't stay excited about in the face of all sorts of difficulty, adversity, and struggle - in an environment of extreme uncertainty and instability - it won't be long before you are thinking of the next idea and wishing you'd never started this one.

The best ideas in my opinion, are the ones that hide among the weeds, on the foggy edges of the thing or things your mind turns to on its own, when given the chance. Opportunities are everywhere - so look near the things that interest you most - those are the most likely to be suited to you.

Answered 8 years ago

This may not be an answer that you can immediately apply, but I strongly recommend you to read The Four Steps to the Epiphany, written by Steve Blank.

It's maybe one of the best books I have read on this subject. It will take you through all the steps you need to take and it has a straight forward approach to it.

Here's the link:

Answered 8 years ago

The best way to think of an idea for a startup is to come up with a solution to a problem that you encounter while doing (or trying to do) something that you're passionate about. For instance, maybe you love traveling but would like a more affordable, local and unique feel to your stay: AirBnB.

Doing it this way helps ensure that:

1) You'll be passionate about your idea, since it relates to your interest. This will help you stick with your startup over time and through difficulties.

2) You'll have a deep knowledge of the field to which the idea is being applied. This means that
A) you will know how to best pivot the idea during development if necessary (always is), and
B) it's less likely that someone else has already thought of your idea and is doing it better.

Keep in mind though that coming up with a good idea, and coming up with an idea that would be good for a startup are two different things. If you don't have a business background, always talk to one or two people that do, in order to hash out whether the idea has scalability and other features that are necessary to make it profitable.

Answered 8 years ago

What problems do you see in the world that you can envision a simple solution for?

Businesses always solve a problem for somebody.

Answered 8 years ago

Google or YouTube "design thinking" and learn the process. It will definitely help you with early stages of idea validation.

Answered 8 years ago

This is a good question.
In addition to the good general answers given before me, I'll try a more practical one. Here are a few methods - they all evolve around finding a solution to a 'pain'/problem that people/businesses have:
1. Work/volunteer in numerous environments and ask yourself: "what can be improved?" or "how can they make more money?"
2. Ask people (or listen to them in daily conversations) what bothers them the most or what they'd like to improve/wish they had ("I wish I had...." or 'I hate it when so and so happens..."
3. Hand around with your nephews (if you have any) - kids aren't limited by reality, and often come up with some great solutions.
4. Check for trends in a specific market (you can use Google Trends and other online tools).
5. Read up on large industries that haven't been disrupted (changed) for a long time (just like Airbnb disrupted the hotel/rental industry).
6. Have ideation sessions with friends or co-founders - you play the 'imagine game' and each of you throw out crazy ideas (I intentionally used the word "crazy", because if you don't start with crazy ideas, you will all be confined to your conventional thinking).
There are many other methods, these are just a few.
I've helped over 300 entrepreneurs with their startups, I'm happy to help you (especially with validating your idea).
Good luck

Answered 5 years ago

There could be many ways to think up a start-up idea, but I believe these are some of the best ways to think up a start-up idea:
1. What do People Ask You for Help With?
It is hard to start a company when you have no relevant skills. As someone who is never painted since preschool, I would have a hard time trying to make it as a painter. If you’re interested in starting a consulting or freelancing job, one of the simplest things you can do to come up with ideas is to think about what you’re friends and colleagues frequently ask you for help with. Maybe you are the “excel wiz” everyone comes to, or you have great advice on public speaking. Any skill can usually be turned into a consulting business and eventually a product (such as online course, set of videos, etc.)
2. What Annoys People in Your Life?
Go up to a few of your friends and ask them what annoys them the most about their day-to-day lives. There will be a lot of noise to sift through (you cannot easily fix traffic) but you might start to hear things that you can build a business around. Maybe all of your friends want a quicker way to shop online, or a way to find delicious new coffees; whatever it is, you could likely build a business around it, and you’ll already have a few interested customers.
3. What Do You Have an Ugly Solution For?
Odds are good that there is something in your life you have cobbled together a partial solution for. Something to save you a bunch of time that a full solution for does not exist. Whatever the solution is, odds are good that other people are doing something similar or have thought about it, and if you can make a product that does it for them it will sell very well.
4. What are People in Your Communities Looking For?
You are probably a member of several communities, both online and in real life. These could be forums, clubs, your job, or even sub-communities on sites like reddit. The benefit of having a community is that you already understand their wants and needs, and you can listen to see what they want to buy. You could go to a Meet Up group and try suggesting a few business ideas to see which one sparks the most interest or post some ideas in a relevant subreddit to gauge people’s reactions.
5. What Makes People Mad?
JetBlue was created mostly because people hated airlines so much. They took an industry with a lot of animosity and created a solution that put the fliers first, and it is done very well. You can find similar things simply by going to Google/Facebook/Twitter and searching for “I hate (something)” or similar. People love to complain on the Internet, so you will be presented with a lot of start-up ideas.
6. Who is Your Sounding Board?
The #1 most important element to me in coming up with great ideas is having a few close friends to bounce them off. Friends that can be honest with you about your ideas will save you a ton of time mulling over bad ideas and ignoring good ones, because they can poke holes in your bad ones and inspire confidence in your good ones. Even better, you will frequently talk to these people and together you will come up with an even better idea than what you’d originally started with.
7. Why Force It?
Sometimes when you try to force yourself to come up with ideas, you’ll be stumped. It’s hard to be creative on command, so one of the best things you can do is not sweat it, and instead get in the habit of jotting down every idea that comes your way. I try to come up with at least 10 ideas a day for anything (start-ups, blog posts, self-improvements, etc.) and I always make sure to write them down. The more you get into the habit of capturing the inspiration that strikes you, the more you will become an idea machine.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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