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Ways to come up with startup ideas

Posted on:February 15, 2024

The other day, I was chatting with a friend about various ideas for products and businesses. He pointed out that the journey to these ideas takes all different forms, and he’s always interested in hearing how a startup founder landed on theirs. I invariably find that fascinating too.

We went on to discuss how there are people like us, who are chock-full of ideas. And then there’s this other group of folks who don’t have that same brain. They’re the ones that say: “If only I had the right idea!” My friend and I have the opposite problem: too many ideas, too little time.

I know there are a lot of you out there who feel our pain. We just have this knack for constantly generating ideas, be it app concepts, business ventures, product innovations, or book ideas. It seems that our brains never take a break from ideation.

I believe this way of thinking is cultivated over time, as I can recall when my mind didn’t quite work like this. So, I think others can learn to do the same.

It’s similar to photographers, designers, and other artists, for example - they train their eyes to notice things. They look for beauty and inspiration everywhere they go. Or storytellers who sharpen their skills by looking for stories around them until it becomes second nature.

I believe we can apply this approach to startup ideas too. By nurturing our minds and honing our observational skills and the headspace we put ourselves in, we can make idea generation an integral part of our daily lives.

Now, there’s been a lot of debate about the inherent value of ideas. Some say they’re a dime a dozen, and have less value than the paper you write them on! But I don’t entirely buy that. Sure, without execution, ideas are worthless. However, they still hold some value – just not as much as one might initially think. An untapped idea for a startup is like an unscratched lottery ticket or a neglected gym membership; it’s not that the idea itself is lacking in worth, it’s just that action (or inaction) determines its ultimate fate. After all, you still need to have an idea in the first place if you’re going to start something.

So, I’ve chosen to embark on a new series of posts, this time exploring the various methods for generating startup ideas. I actually hinted at this series in my initial post.

Ironically, I find coming up with things to write about every day challenging, but I’m confident there’s a wealth of strategies out there that’ll help me maintain my momentum of posting daily on this blog for some time. Perhaps I’ll even accumulate enough material for a book on the subject someday. Who can say? Keep an eye out – I’ll begin connecting the posts I create to this introductory thread.

And by the way, lots of others have written about this already, and it’s only because they’ve shared their wisdom that I’ve learned how to do this. In a way, I’m synthesizing the methods I’ve come across over the years. One favorite on this topic is Choose Yourself by James Altucher, which another friend shared with me a long time ago. If there’s a post where I can remember where I got the idea from, I’ll credit the source!

The ways: