There are different types of entrepreneurs, those who started a business by “accident” because whatever they were making for themselves or their family was needed by others too, or even those who developed some skill on their job and ended up creating their own company around this knowledge. But for most of us, it all started from a decision, a deep desire of change and independence, a call of freedom.
Whenever you decide to start your own business without a specific idea of what you can offer, the following tips will help you.
1 Think Passion
Entrepreneurs have to be passionate about their business. If you think you are working a lot in your 9@5 job, you’d better prepare yourself for a new 24/7 work schedule. Only a business that you find deeply interesting will motivate you to go through the best and the worst moments of your company. I’ve spent several sleepless nights with YourPersonalEconomist, but the idea of succeeding and offering the best to our clients was fuel to the fire. But it doesn’t feel like “work” such as what we imagine in a normal job, so the long hours are not as bad as it may seem.
Make a list of things that you are really passionate about. Do you have a hobby or subject that absorbs you for hours? It doesn’t matter if it’s far away from what you have been doing in your “official” career. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the whole skills package around your passion, there is nothing you cannot learn or any knowledge you can’t find in another person. Bet on passion and your startup will have better chances of succeeding and most of all, making you happy.
2 Think Problem Solving
Life is full of things that can be improved in some way. We all notice those little things that “could be better if…” until the day someone actually does a millionaire business around it and you think, “I had already thought about that, why is this not me doing that business?”
Write down ideas every single time you have a problem in your day-to-day routine. How many times this has happened to you in the past? With what frequency? How many people can be experiencing the same problem on a regular basis? The higher the numbers are, the bigger the business potential.
3 Brainstorming and Painstorming
Lists, lists, lists.
Making lists is one of the most efficient tools for creativity. So this is what you have to do to become a massive startup ideas list maker:
1. Go to a silent place where you are alone and calm with a notebook and a pencil.
2. Start thinking…
At first it will be difficult and your brain will try to make you give up and check your phone for some dopamine-generating notifications on Facebook or Instagram. Well, don’t. Stay where you are and keep thinking. What is that problem that is always bothering you? What is that passion that makes you vibrate? Can you mix them? Passions and solutions?
Don’t look for genius or unique ideas. Don’t try to evaluate your ideas. Write absolutely everything that comes to mind, even if it sounds impossible or dumb. This is only the ideas generation step, so don’t put a filter on it.
Even “stupid” ideas can succeed big time. If you don’t believe me check out the Pet Rock business, which has a net worth of two million dollars.
You can also painstorm. A good painstorming session is composed of two steps. The first one is asking people about their problems. It can be your friends and family. What problems do they have and how can you potentially solve them? Is it something related to technology? Something about personal finance? Health? Language learning? Time saving? The subjects are infinite.
The second step is just observing. Take a week to analyze people around you. Try to find patterns and ideas from what you are observing. What do they do? How are they doing it? Can it be improved somehow?
4 Every Change Opens New Doors
Take a minute to think about the amount of business created around Facebook or YouTube. What about Google or Apple? One single company can open the door of opportunities for thousands of new companies that act as “satellites” offering complementary services.
This is why if you want to find great ideas with big potential, you have to check-up constantly on changes in technology, new trends, demographics and changes in regulation and policies.
For example, demographics have changed a lot in the last 20 years. One of the biggest changes is that homes have now two incomes instead of one, there are more elderly, and single-parent families are also increasing. Guess what market is getting bigger and bigger every day?… Food delivery! It’s not a genius or original idea though, food delivery has “always” been there, but those who saw this demographic structural change are grabbing this opportunity, like Uber with UberEats.
Let’s do an exercise, let’s think about the recent news for five minutes and come up with a business idea based on it…
OK I got one (that you can use if you want), here we go: Remember that doctor that was forcibly removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight last month? This is not the first time airline companies have problems after overbooking flights (which is a common practice amongst airlines). What about creating a company that sells only overbooked flights (from multiple companies) with a great discount for the customers? I’m sure there are lots of people that wouldn’t mind traveling a few hours later or the next day if they can have good prices on their tickets. On the other hand, companies could be sure that the overbooked passengers are actually willing to take the next flight if necessary. What about you? Well, as an intermediary you can make a small percentage on each sale. Voila my win-win-win-5 minute business idea.
Now it is your turn! Spend one week or two repeating these tips and at the end you will be surprised of the list you have created. It is worthy to dedicate time and effort to find THE idea that will make your startup come to life.
I hope this post truly helped you clarify the process of finding ideas for your startup. Next week I’ll publish part II of this article. I’ll discuss how to validate your ideas and choose one from the whole list without regrets.