Finding a Business Idea

I’m not an “idea guy”. I have friends who have countless ideas but don't put them into action – maybe you do too. Or maybe you are one of those “idea guys”. For me, right now, I have the time, desire, and skills to implement a great idea but struggle to actually have an idea. Or I have an idea but shoot holes in it: “that will never work”, “someone already has done that really well”, “no one will pay for that”, etc.

I read and listen to a lot of Seth Godin’s stuff. I don’t agree with all his viewpoints but he has some great ways of looking at things. Today he released a great blog post on the right marketing question to ask. This got me thinking about business ideas that actually help people. Seth says the right question to ask is this:

We’re seeking to make a change in part of the world. How do we find the right people and tell them the right (true) story that helps them get to where they’re going–and that they’ll tell to their peers?

One of the views Seth has that I love is to focus on a specific niche of people - not everyone. He highlights this by saying "part of the world" and "right people". My goal is to build something for a specific, focused group of people.

What hit me with this blog post was finding something that can make a positive change in that group's life - a big enough change that they can't wait to tell their friends.

I've experienced this desire to share something when I found the EntreLeadership podcast. I've listened to it in the past and never shared it with anyone but they recently changed to a caller-driven format where people call in with business questions. Dave Ramsey answers the questions himself. When I listened to The Dave Ramsey Show I always loved the business calls he would get. Now there is a show with only business calls and I love it and share it with all my friends that are business minded.

Creating something that people want to share because it is exactly what they want/need and isn't for everyone almost sells itself. Word of mouth is the best marketing there is.

Another guy that has some so much great advice on this topic is Paul Graham. He's got an excellent essay on how to get startup ideas. He has so much great stuff in that essay and if you are looking for ideas like me you should definitely read it.

His main point is that the best ideas come about when we aren't setting out to come up with a business idea. He recommends putting ourselves at the forefront of some field and keep our eyes open for problems & pain points. And you don't want to try to find a problem that everyone has:

"[Look for problems] a small number of people want a large amount"

If a small number of people have an immediate and large-sized need for something, it is likely a great business idea.

An easy way to know if people have an immediate, large-sized need is to look for problems that you, personally have.

A great way for stumbling on these ideas, he says, is to build "toys" - things that seem interesting. And while building these keep your eyes open for opportunities.

I've been pushing myself to come up with an idea when I really should be building fun, interesting things. I guess it is time to take the pressure off myself and build some fun stuff!