How to come up with your next Startup Idea

A good startup is founded on a great startup idea that satisfies a real market need.

While having a good startup idea is not the only thing that leads to a successful startup, having a team or a company that can develop your idea well will still struggle to make the business take flight if nobody likes the idea.

If you’re someone who is interested to start a business or get into the startup scene, but is left wondering why you can’t conceive a single great idea despite seeing new ideas spring up on your Meetup groups, Facebook newsfeed and YouTube ads all the time, then this article is for you.

1. Understand people

Understand the basic motivators of what people desire for and what people fear. Everyone has their own dreams of the things that they want to achieve in their life and where they want to see themselves in the next 5, 10, or 20 years.

At the same time, the fast paced society that we live in is leaving people time poor, low on savings, uninspired and feeling pushed back by things they have to do.

Reflect on your own life a bit, and think about your own motivators using the following areas below:

  • Frustrations
  • Fears
  • Wants
  • Desires

If your startup idea can tap into people’s deep motivators and can demonstrate real benefit for your customer, then you have an idea that people can rally behind and love you for!

2. Take notice of things happening around you

Go outside and immerse yourself in society, take notice of things happening around you and observe how people interact with other people, public transport and businesses.

Pay particular attention to people’s expressions and how they sigh, how they smile, and how they are impressed. Also, pay attention to inefficiencies in how things happen. Some of these things may not be obvious, but approach this exercise with a practical mind, and constantly ask yourself “if I was providing a service, how will I behave differently?”.

Be prepared to take note of your observations as you’re on the go. This should be easy enough to do using your smartphone to write some quick notes that you can refer back to later.

3. Travel abroad

No matter how good things are where you are, you can always get some new inspirations and insights through travelling.

Make an effort to listen to the people you meet along the way. Often, people who live outside of your home country are able to share different perspectives. Becoming aware of cultural differences and customs can open up a new set of “what ifs” and streams of thinking.

You may also come across ways of doing things abroad that make you miss things at home. For example, here in Australia, we take credit cards payments using PayPass or PayWave for granted, but many countries are still largely cash based societies.

4. Try new things

Go and put yourself out there. Do things that you normally wouldn’t do so that you can experience first hand what it’s like to do them.

When we stick to doing things that we’re comfortable with, we don’t allow ourselves to learn anything.

Below are just a few of many things that you can try out to get you started:

  • go out and do an activity, rather than staying home and watching Netflix
  • go and eat out or order take away, rather than cooking
  • commute a few times or work from home, rather than driving to work
  • go to a club or a live gig once in a while, rather than just going to a quiet bar
  • pay for things with a credit card or phone, rather than paying with cash
  • book travel through a travel agent or package deal, rather than planning a trip yourself
  • buy clothes online, rather than trying and buying in a brick and mortal store
  • stay at an Airbnb or couch surf, rather than staying in a normal hotel.

5. Attend networking events and meetups

Networking events and meetups are a fantastic way to meet new people that share the same mindset as you.

You can easily meet people at networking events who either are doing a startup, have done a startup or two, or even invest in startups. These people can help you validate your idea, give you some pointers on how you can refine your idea, or tell you to abandon it completely.

Try and protect your ideas as much as you can though. The best way to protect your idea is to:

  • be selective in who you tell it to (focus on telling people who can help you if possible); and
  • only talk about it in terms of what problem you are solving without explaining how you’re solving the problem.

Networking events like these are also a good place to hear what other people are doing and to hear their perspectives on things.

6. Tell your friends about your startup idea

Run your startup idea by some of your trusted friends at your next brunch or drinks.

Your friends are some of the best people to run your idea by, because you can go into a bit more detail into your startup idea, and you can feel confident that they have your interests at heart.

Just make sure you ask your friends to give you some honest and constructive feedback… and make sure you leave your ego behind and act in a way that respects your friend’s honesty.

Wrapping up

Having a great startup idea as a launch base for your startup is critical to your success. Use the tips covered above to:

  1. Understand people and their motivations
  2. Observe, learn and analyse
  3. Network, share your idea, get feedback

Having said that, your startup idea doesn’t need to be perfect. It should be something that will attract customers and something that you can be passionate about.

And remember what starting a startup is about: it’s about building something that other people want, not strictly building something that you want.

Have a startup idea that you need refining or want to start building on?
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