Coming up with a start-up idea is hard. The best startup ideas have three things in common: They’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. The ideas are so simplistic and yet not everyone can tap their creative powers to come up with a brilliant, life-changing idea.
Here are five techniques that can get your creative juices flowing:
What’s next? Think about trends and technologies on the horizon and how you might move into those areas. The story of Amazon is a great example of an idea whose time had come. Jeff Bezos quit his cushy job at D. E. Shaw’s to set up Amazon as the internet was then growing at 2,400% per year. Successful business ideas are often ahead of the curve and moving into disruptive new trends and technologies on the horizon can be a good idea.
Do something about what bugs you: Did you know that some of the biggest start-ups in the world today were born because the founders were essentially annoyed by something. Like for example Netflix was born as Reed Hastings was annoyed that he had to pay $40 overdue movie fee (for Apollo 13) for a DVD. Dropbox’s Drew Houston always forgot his USB when he was studying at MIT. You can also ask random people what the biggest annoyances in their lives are. Finding solutions to people’s problems can help you to create a business idea you can work on.
Select a viable niche area: Choosing a niche area can be tricky as you could still not come up with anything despite listing all passions and interests. They can be born from interesting problems, not necessarily ideas. The emergence of Uber, Old and Grab has revolutionized the transport industry by plugging in a massive gap—last mile connectivity. Ensure that you test your idea and see how profitable it can be in the niche area.
Talk to shoppers, family: Sometimes in order to get ideas, one needs to be suitably inspired. To come up with an idea that meets people’s needs, there’s no better way than by talking to shoppers or walking up and down the aisles in a shopping store. Arunachalam Muruganantham revolutionized menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a machine that makes low-cost sanitary napkins. This idea was born out of his desire to impress his wife!
Search for a better way, alternatives: The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities. One way of working out a start-up idea is to routinely ask yourself “Is there a better way to solve this problem?” You would be surprised at how frequently the answer is “Yes”. It could be born out of passion or an issue that hasn’t been tapped into.
Many great startup ideas are about matching disruption with a set of customers whose demands have not been met or who just want to be entertained.