I hear a lot of people asking about “how to come up with a good startup idea,” and “what makes an idea a good startup idea?” Responding with things like where is the money or the fastest way to get rich, will lead founders down paths of failure. This is because you will end up competing against people who are passionate about those areas and have the skills to create a solution for the problems that they have experienced or seen.
The first thing I recommend new entrepreneurs do when they are looking for startup ideas is to list out their passions.
The number one thing that makes a startup idea good is how passionate you are about the idea. If you aren’t passionate about the idea or the space the idea is in, you will be at a huge disadvantage. Passion is what keeps founders going when things get tough and they need to choose between continuing the grueling startup work or going back to a cushy day job. Passion will give you the boost of energy to crunch work to get ahead of your competition and stay ahead. If you aren’t passionate about the idea, you can definitely assume one of your competitors is, and they will leave you in the dust every time.
The second thing I recommend is to list out all of your skills.
The initial skill set of a founder will dictate a lot about what they can start doing immediately and what skills they will need to develop. Knowing your initial limitations will help a bunch as certain things like creating a website and having good networking skills can be quickly learned, while more advanced skills will tell you where you have an advantage. Seeing where your skills and passions naturally line up will narrow down the ideas you should select for your startup.
The last thing I recommend is to list out the problems you have encountered, or where you can improve on current solutions for products in the areas you are passionate about.
Many people think that great startup ideas need to be huge industry-redefining ideas in order to become unicorns. If you look at current unicorns like Uber, Airbnb, and Google, you can see that they all focused on trying to make their industries slightly better. Specifically, if you can make something 20% better, you can get customers. Some guidance on what to look at is:
User experience, Google and their no-clutter search page
Removing friction, Uber removed the need to hail down a cab
Removing steps, Airbnb handling booking process for hosts
Automating steps, Hubspot connecting your CRM directly to Sales and Marketing
Making something easier, Amazon lets you buy things faster
Adding something that isn’t there yet, Waze adding speed traps to maps
The best startup ideas for you to chase will intersect between your passion, skills, and problems that you have experience with. This will give you an advantage that is hard to compete against. At some point, you will need to figure out how your idea will make money, but money shouldn’t be the main reason you are choosing an idea.