Looking for the next billion dollar idea? Good luck. Many unicorns pivot away from their initial idea and novice entrepreneurs often fail to understand this and instead attempt invent the next “you name it” idea from the get-go.
Experienced entrepreneurs know the better way. All they need to do is to look inside their inner self and talk to other people to learn what remains broken in the world around. Then — fix that, in the best possible way.
Well, so easy to read, but the devil is in the details. That’s why I’d like to share the set of techniques how to come up with better ideas for a startup.
Great ideas are born when you feel a particular need on your own. However, you may not notice those signals in the daily routine. Want to talk about it? Well, sit down comfortably, calm down your mind and ask yourself:
Which of your talents do you like most or what skills do you want to improve?
Consciously or subconsciously, Mark Zuckerberg wanted to be more social, hence Facebook. Jack Dorsey wanted to feel more connected to a city’s activities, which led to Twitter.
Let’s continue to more concrete questions:
Write down your answers. Even if you failed to identify something worthwhile, you might have an insight next time when you re-read it.
Time flies when we enjoy something. These are the moments that can bring in new opportunities. This is a way to identify business ideas from your hobbies.
Make the first, simplest step without delay. Do it today, right now! Decide what should be your next second step and schedule it for tomorrow, in the morning (if necessary, wake up earlier).
You see, you are on your way to make something meaningful.
Talk to people who work in the area of your interest or where you see the highest potential. Without any doubt, most of them face lots of challenges in their professional life and know all the details that make sense.
Ask questions, do not interrupt, listen carefully and write down their answers.
After a dozen or so discussions, you may spot some repeating answers. It could be what you are looking for. Ideally, 25–30 talks of this kind are needed to gather enough data to start seeing repetitive patterns.
We, at Standuply, did hundreds of interviews to understand how we can improve communications in distributed teams using a Slack bot.
Dan Lewis, CEO of Convoy.com, goes further and distinguishes three basic idea types:
The first two types do not depend on our efforts. In contrast, ideas of the third type are born when access to insights is difficult. Thus, you have to put some extra effort.
Motivation ➡️ Problem ➡️ Several ideas ➡️ Validation ➡️ Implementation.
Moreover, Dan shares many links to different training books and articles which are also worth your attention.
Every time someone complains, write it down. It could be about customer service or how expensive bath towels are. Listen for phrases such as ‘I hate’, ‘I wish’, ‘thats so annoying’. These are queues for potential startup ideas.
Search on Twitter can be also very insightful. Twitter is often used to post complaints addressed to companies or share thoughts aloud. Here are some more phrases that can take you closer to insights.
“I wish I had”
“is the worst product”
“that’s so frustrating”
“does anyone know how”
You can also read feedback sections at different websites with users ideas and comments. From time to time, you can find something interesting. For example, try this Google search request “sucks site:uservoice.com”.
Find a problem which is still solved inconveniently or in an old-fashioned way. Then you have to figure out whether this problem can be solved by the people on their own, but with your coordination.
The best example is, for sure, Uber. So you need to match an undervalued (redundant) resource (the free time of car owners) with a non-satisfied deficit (cheap taxi for every day, as if having an own chauffeur).
Ramesh Raskar, a MIT Media Lab professor, purposed a unique method to develop inventive skills (see on SlideShare). It is called “Idea Hexagon”.
It is important to work with people who think differently. The greater is their difference, the more effective shall be the co-work.
Here are some simple exercises to help you getting new ideas.
Take any product and try to invent ways to increase their sales. What do you think should be done to achieve this? How can you make it better?
Pick a product and change its business model completely. If it’s a toy shop what would happen if toys are for rent?
There is Facebook with a variety of functions, and there is Twitter with the only function of user status broadcasting similar to Facebook.
David Skok developed a Brainstorming Model that helps to inspire creative thinking. Here are the basics.
Simple enough, right?
Your ideas reflect your inner world, experience, and views. Thus, training your brain is a great way to invent something new. Here are some tricks to help you to become more creative:
There is no silver bullet, the great idea can reach you everywhere: when you drive, go jogging, or during a brainstorming session. Nobody knows when it will happen next time. Stay focused and keep watching as hunters do.
Sometimes you know — it’s so close, so that you aren’t gonna quit. You may get tired, feel disappointed and frustrated. But do not never ever give up!
Keep going, and some day you will see that the gold is in your hands.
As for me? It took 8 long years of searching and trying.
This article was also shared on Standuply.