On /r/startups, people will occasionally ask for ideas for startups or how people come up with ideas for their startup. I understand why they’re asking but it really bothers me every time.
If you need to ask someone else for help just to get an idea to start a business, you probably shouldn’t be starting one. Having an idea for a business is one of the most basic requirements for a business and if you’re not able to do that by yourself without asking for help, I don’t know how you’re going to succeed.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. I did the same thing more than a decade ago. I was looking for businesses that I could run on my own. I went through a book at the local book store and came upon ‘massage therapist’. I could do it entirely on an entrepreneurial basis and wouldn’t require employment in order to do it.
I failed miserably. I spent thousands of dollars on training only to find out I couldn’t even give way the massages in order to fulfill the licensing requirements. Also, and this is the bigger issue that I oddly did not even consider at the time: I don’t like touching people. I’ll do it for the money, of course, but it skeeves me out to have to touch another human being that I’m not attracted or related to.
So, that’s one reason why you shouldn’t be asking other people for help in ideas to start a business. Another reason is that most ideas aren’t particularly helpful to begin with in the first place. You need to believe strongly in your business and if the idea doesn’t resonate with you on a deep, meaningful level, you’re not going to be able to weather all the rejection, stress and failure that comes with running a business.
Ideas aren’t that hard to come up with. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast that was bringing up some concerns regarding privacy for Facebook and Google. Given that so much of their business model is based on acquiring data from their users and how people are becoming more concerned about their privacy, they predicted that other business models will rise up to address those concerns.
Now I don’t personally feel that privacy is that big of a concern but I came up with an alternative. Rather than a business model that’s based off of pimping their customer’s data, I came up with a business model oriented towards customers earning their cycles through Mechanical Turk type work. It’s probably a horrible idea. I didn’t even bother to write it down when I got it, but it was an idea nonetheless. That’s the only kind of mindset that’s required for an idea to start a business. You see a problem and you find a solution. It’s really that simple.