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Ways to come up with startup ideas – Solve your own problem

Posted on:February 18, 2024

I previously shared how to spot problems. Now, we can use that skill for one of my favorite ways to find a startup idea: solving your own problems.

There are so many examples of this!

What makes this idea one of my favorites, besides the fact that it obviously works? There are many reasons why solving your own problem is a great approach. When you solve your own problem, at the very least, you’ll be happy with the outcome. You now have one less issue to deal with, and it must have been important since you spent time fixing it. So, with all the uncertainty in starting a business, knowing that you’ll benefit from your solution is one of the best assurances I can imagine.

You’ll always have at least one customer. Many times, people start building a product or business but struggle to identify their target audience. This can lead to creating something that nobody wants. If you’re solving your own problem, you know exactly who needs it. You’re sure someone wants it, and the problem is real. Plus, it’s likely that others have the same problem as you.

Thanks to this method, you can save lots of time during research and validation. There will still be key assumptions to verify, but mostly, you can skip that part where you need to deeply understand the problem that happens when you’re solving for someone else, and quickly move on to finding the right solution. Depending on your preferences, this might be much more enjoyable.

Solving your own problem also means you’ll likely start your business with a better understanding of whether people would actually pay for your solution. Sometimes, a problem might have a solution, but it’s not valuable enough for someone to spend money on it. However, if you’re solving your own problem and you’d pay for it if someone else solved it for you, then it’s a pretty good sign that there’s a business opportunity.

Even if your first creation isn’t something people will buy, or perhaps the problem is small with a limited market, or it’s just a narrow issue you’re solving for yourself, that’s alright. You can begin with that initial solution and investigate other related problems or uses. From there, expand your focused solution into something wider, transforming it from a starting point to a full-fledged product or company.

And now, my final and most important reason for doing this. Solving your own problem gives you intrinsic motivation. Building a company and creating products is tough. You’ll face many challenges along the way. In my experience, solving other people’s problems can keep you going for a while. But when it’s your own issue, you’ll have more energy to overcome obstacles. You’ll understand why it matters on a deeper level.

So, go ahead and use this technique. It’s one of the best ways to decide what to build!