It’s tricky to say that something is a right Idea. Paul Graham, Founder of YCombinator says The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common they’re “something the founders themselves want, they themselves can build and only a few others realize are worth doing.” He says great companies like Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook all began this way.
If you look around there would be a lot of things that you see are missing, which you could do but you cannot know if it’s worth doing. Most of the entrepreneurs succeed in their 2nd or 3rd venture, and very few first timers can pull things off the ground. Either way, it’s about the learning you are going to get in these attempts. It is important for you to choose what you are doing very well(even if it’s the first time).
Here are few steps you could do to come up with ideas that you may want to work on. This process doesn’t help you with getting an idea that works. You need to validate your idea to see if it really works (more about Idea Validation in another article) but this article will help you understand which areas you want to focus in terms of your interest, strengths and problems you think are you want to solve.
Look around, Feel Uncomfortable
One of the thing you need to be is to be more observant of your life and your surroundings. See for areas you are uncomfortable at. You cannot really come up with any idea if you are ok with things that are already existing the way they are. Sure, there are different levels of not liking something. You might hate being in traffic more than you hate the taste of tea you had today. But the point is you need to observe everything and anything on your way.
It will be easy to find a lot of things that you are not happy with or things that can be improved. You can talk to your friends, family, and colleagues and see if they can reckon the problem you see (don’t tell that you want to work on it or anything yet) so you know it’s actually a problem and not your assumption at first place. Don’t judge if that Idea/problem could become a business at all, just observe.
List down all ideas
I know the couple of entrepreneurs who write down all the ideas that they get in an excel sheet. If you have done the “Look around, Feel Uncomfortable” exercise even for a week (not to say you need to stop after that) you will have a lot of things you might want to work on. Here is the best part. Either take a Word document or Book/Pen to write down everything that comes to your mind.
Make sure you are doing the following things in this exercise
- Write down all the ideas that come to your mind
- Don’t judge if they are good or bad ideas, keep it going
- When writing, even if you see yourself writing repeated ideas, don’t bother, keep it going
- See to make at least 50 ideas for your mind to put it down(trust me 50 is easy to write), keep it going, don’t stop.
Make excel sheet of 25 ideas
Once you write down those Ideas, give yourself some time to relax and get back to the document/Ideas you made. Do the following to come up with the 25 Ideas
- Delete the redundancy
- Check for Ideas that have existing solutions already(if you know already about them), delete them too unless you know you have a far better Idea in mind already
- Get to short it down to 25 Ideas, there is no logic on how you would. l cut down other ideas but you are sure to find this doing easily.
How to pick top 3
Now that you have 25 Ideas(or problems) that you want to work on, it’s time to prioritize top 3 Ideas(out of which you could take one Idea to work on). There are 3 things that you need to make sure are present even at Pre-Idea stage.
How much passionate are you towards solving this problem?
Would you like spending 5 years of your life working on this problem to solve? Think about it, if you are serious about starting up, you would be giving up your job and working full time on this, you will have to convince a lot of people on your Idea(your parents, spouse to Your team, Investors, customers, friends and your neighbor’s dog).
You really should have a strong connect. As Paul Graham says you need to be wanting it to be solved for yourself first.
Do you have the right skill set and domain knowledge?
Getting into something that’s completely irrelevant is fine. It’s good you have some natural strengths or knowledge about the domain already.It’s purely contextual but let me give you an example. If you want to build an electric car, you can’t know anything about that domain. But let’s say you are building a website for restaurants, it’s good you are already passionate about food or from that Industry but not necessarily. Let me repeat something important, it’s purely contextual and skill set/domain knowledge can be acquired if you are passionate about it.
Do you have the right team to build this?
Again this is not necessary at the Idea stage but consider it very important having a group of people with the similar mindset,wanting to do something with different skill set is like a pot of gold already. If this Idea doesn’t work you pivot, you don’t want to find a new team to work with every time.
Once you have these take the top 3 Ideas which suits the above best.
How to pick the Idea you want to work on
Now that you have top three Ideas you want to work on based on your passion and the resources you have to execute (or you think you can bring at this point in time). Make an excel sheet of the following attributes to work on and fill them up.
These attributes will help you think about everything that you need to know broadly in the each of the domain
- Market name, Segment name, Addressable Market name
- Market Size, Segment Size, Addressable Market Size
- Competitors in the market
- List of opinion Leaders in the market(at least 3)
- List of blogs to Follow
- List of conferences you can attend
- Recent funding news in this segment
- Any companies in IPO in this segment
Once you do these see which sector has a better addressable market for you , mix and match it with your strengths and pick up one Idea you want to work on. At this point, it will be more intuitive for you on which you want to work on.
As simple and easy it could look (it actually is), you would be spending roughly a month on this exercise if done well. Remember this is only an Idea that best suits from the lot you have, have an open mind to change the Idea or pivot, rinse & repeat the process moving forward if you have to. Great things take the time to be identified first. Good Luck!