Working in the San Francisco Bay Area, I encounter entrepreneurs fairly often who want to start their own company. You’d be surprised how many of them don’t really have a business model yet.
Before you start up a business, you need to have an idea that you believe will result in a large amount of customers. It should be well researched and innovative. You must keep in mind that an impressive startup idea will get the attention of investors who can fund your creation and support you through launch and growth stages.
More often than not, coming up with the idea involves a lot of hard work and introspection. Put your concept through a set of questions before you go ahead. Will it generate revenue? Will it be popular? Why? How likely is failure? Remember that roughly nine out of 10 businesses fail. What puts you into that remaining 10 percent?
Here are some things to consider as you develop a winning startup idea.
1. Your idea should solve a real problem.
Will your service or product solve a problem many people are facing? That idea you had to make a cup holder on washing machines so that people have a place to put their drink while doing laundry -- is that even a thing? If your great idea is a solution for an imagined problem, you’ve just made a huge mistake in entrepreneurship. Because if nobody has the problem that you have the solution for, nobody’s going to come looking for it.
Jason Romrell of Tellit.me was looking for a solution for rating friends and coworkers and came across Peeple, but then came up with his own idea for an app that could do this. This app lets you read reviews about yourself, family, friends and others, then add your comments to those reviews and give reviews and ratings a thumbs up or down. The ratings and reviews are tied to your phone number -- so you can’t hide behind anonymity.
2. The story is important, too.
The story of how you got your amazing idea for your next startup is just as relevant as the idea itself. People love to hear about how that one guy had lived his entire life for this amazing product or service he’s come up with. Ideas that are only opportunistic, although great, aren’t going to get you anywhere.
Don’t try to follow trends, because trends are bound to change. You need to tell people the story about how you are uniquely positioned to solve the particular problem your product is for. That's what stellar storytelling is about.
3. Fear of failure is counterproductive.
Are you afraid that you stink at coming up with ideas? Are you scared that nobody will like or understand what your idea is about? If you are, you’re totally normal. Most people fear the failure of a task before even tackling it.
Telling yourself that you’re not good at coming up with a great idea is surely going to limit your ability to come up with a great idea. In order to come up with a great startup idea, you need to tell yourself that you are capable of doing it. You also need to remember that no man is an island -- you’ll need a team to help you truly succeed.
4. Ask for feedback.
Speaking of teams, you’ll need to gather a team to solicit feedback from when trying to come up with a startup idea. Most people will be polite when you present them with your idea, even if it’s a horrible idea. This is because from the time we’re young, we’re taught not to hurt anyone’s feelings. But you'll need to ask your go-to feedback givers to give you an honest opinion.
One way you can get people to give you honest answers is to ask them if they “see” you doing something. You can say, “Do you see me selling parkas to Hawaiian tourists?” Obviously, people will say “no” when asked about that idea, because it is a horrible idea. But by asking them if they “see” you doing something, that opens it up even more to ask them whether an idea that is good is also a good fit for you.
5. Personal satisfaction
When trying to come up with a good startup idea that is a good fit for you personally, there are some things to consider. First, look at things you really like doing. Do you enjoy cooking? Is there a problem you’ve come across in the kitchen that you think you can solve? That would be a good starting place for an idea.
Also, take a look at things you do or are interested in that make time fly when you’re doing them. Is there something you’ve learned and are incredibly excited about passing along and teaching to others? Is there something you do that gives you renewed energy? These are all good starting points for great ideas.
6. Don’t stick with a bad idea.
One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is sticking with a good idea that has turned bad. Doing this is almost just as awful as coming up with a bad idea in the first place. When you’ve come up with an idea that you think is really worth fleshing out, you need to set certain criteria for measuring the success or failure of the idea.
Take a look at it at one month, three months and so on. If you’re not meeting the criteria you’ve set for success, ditch the idea and come up with a new one. There’s no shame in trying something that doesn’t work out. It’s best to just file it under learning experience and move on.