Entrepreneurs Scratch Their Own Itch:

Struggling with an idea? First, try thinking of the problems that you care about.

While many potential entrepreneurs seek to solve complicated world problems outside the realm of their own daily lives, there are many examples of entrepreneurs that have found success by scratching their own itch. Take Reed Hastings, his impetus for starting Netflix was when he discovered an overdue rental of Apollo 13 in his closet and had to pay $40 in late fees. While Hastings was an accomplished entrepreneur in the software world already, it seems that his most successful enterprise, Netflix, was created out of the need to solve a problem that affected him directly. For many entrepreneurs, the most lucrative problems to solve are those that are close to home.

History provides many examples of startups born out of an individual’s need to find creative solutions to a problem they are facing personally. These are people that get impatient and don’t wait around for someone else to solve their problem for them and in the process ultimately wind up developing a viable solution not only for themselves, but for others as well. Craig Newmark, for example, was frustrated with the existing and archaic channels for selling his stuff to people he didn’t know personally. He had an idea that there should be an online listing of classifieds for everyone on the internet to search, and that idea became Craigslist. Similarly, not so many years ago a geeky Mark Zuckerberg wanted to figure out if girls were single before asking them out, and this led to the further development of the Facebook we all know and love today.

There are many reasons why startups fail and succeed, and developing a solution that fixes a problem you face personally doesn’t guarantee startup success in the market. But your own personal frustrations could be great inspiration for the next hot startup. A common annoyance or a nagging question can be converted into a highly profitable business. Just look at Facebook’s revenue of $4 billion or Netflix’s $945 million. And even if it never evolves that far, at a minimum the solution you build will scratch your own itch. Feeling itchy?

Researching innovative industries and economies @ Ryan Research. Formerly: Lead Research Analyst @ Coindesk and B.A. in Economics @ NYU.